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Reclamation of German Steel Works Site
Location Oberhausen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Client The Stadium Group
Scope Planning, Landscape Architecture
Size 125 hectares
Located on the brownfield site of a decommissioned steel mill, Centro Oberbausen (CentrO) forms the heart of a new city center in Northern Germany’s densely populated Ruhr Valley. It is the largest retail and mixed-use development in continental Europe; forty million people live within an hour’s drive.The project includes a new light rail system, a retail center, parking garages, office buildings, an arena, and housing. SWA, along with its German affiliate, Planungsgruppe Boyer, provided complete landscape architectural services for the project’s public spaces. Anchored at one end by the arena and at the other by the multiplex cinema, a canal creates the setting for the project’s major public space and is the draw for commercial activity along it. Lined by restaurants, cafes, and pubs, the canal-front promenade is a grand, bustling pedestrian street and destination in itself. Designed as a two-tiered system, the 12-meter–wide promenade provides major dining space at the lower level overlooking the canal and more limited dining space at the upper level adjacent to the restaurants, so that dining can expand or contract depending on the weather. Strolling, the major attraction of the promenade, takes place on the upper level. The canal also serves as a storm water retention basin, and the lower level provides capacity for water storage. In contrast with the hard edge of the promenade, the opposite bank of the canal is softer and more naturalistic, planted with cattails to remove pollutants from the water. The design of CentrO demanded strict adherence to Germany’s green laws requiring all non-windowed facades to be covered with vines, one-third of the building roof area excluding skylights and mechanical equipment to be planted, and all surface parking to be covered in porous material to recharge the groundwater supply.