Transforming cities: from industrial centres to sustainable urban areas

Connective Cities dialogue event in Bocholt, Germany


Industrial urban areas in Europe and North America as well as in several Asian and Latin American countries are facing huge spatial challenges in restructuring their urban centres and regions after having lost their traditional economic base. Integrated urban development schemes are needed to make this transformation sustainable and to introduce new urban functions while preserving the industrial heritage. The spatial implication of structural change and the organisation of such transformation call for innovative strategies to revitalise the areas and uses of the traditional manufacturing cores, economically, socially and environmentally. 

The international exchange platform Connective Cities and its initiators, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the German Association of Cities and Engagement Global / Service Agency Communities in One World, organized a Dialogue Event on “Transforming Cities: From Industrial Centres to Sustainable Urban Areas” from 5 to 7 December 2016 in Bocholt, Germany to specifically look into good practices, challenges and solutions to this crucial topic. The event was organized in cooperation with the City of Bocholt which shared its own experience with urban transformation by hosting the event in one of the former textile factories of the city, now converted into a textile museum. The dialogue event attracted German and international municipal actors with first-hand experience in the transformation of post-industrial urban areas, its planning and its implementation, including representatives of municipalities, municipal institutes as well as representatives from civil society, academia and business, active in municipal projects in this thematic area. Urban practitioners from Germany, Ukraine, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, the Netherlands and China joined together to present their good practices but also to share their challenges and discuss viable practical solutions for their local needs.


Event Programme


Background Paper



Alexander Wagner, Connective Cities
Connective Cities: next steps and preparation for the action planning session

Silvia Boehmsdorff, Connective Cities, Service Agency Communities in One World
Bilateral partnership projects: funding options for German municipalities

Alice Balbo, Connective Cities
Action planning tools


The case studies from international urban practictioners participating in the event were a core part of the workshop and can be found below:

Working Group 1

Stuttgart, Germany
Wiener Platz neighbourhood - Redevelopment of the Brownfield site “Schoch”

Bogota, Colombia
Puente Aranda industrial zone: an abandoned area is flourishing

Bocholt, Belgium
Development of the passing port area


Working Group 2

Bocholt, Germany
kubaai: a cultural and educational neighbourhood along the river Aa

Xi’an, China
Traces of the city: Dahua Cotton Mill Renovation

Krefeld, Germany
Neighbourhood “Samtweberei”

Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina
The development of the City Arena in Zenica


Working Group 3

Dortmund, Germany
Lake Phoenix – urban resilience by transition

São Paulo City, Brazil
Redevelopment of the former waste incinerator site Sumidouro

Kharkiv, Ukraine
The construction of residential complex in Gvardiytsiv-Shyronintsiv St.

Santa Clara, Cuba
Urban and architectural rehabilitation proposal for the waste water treatment plant


The platform could pool experiences to discuss challenges and generate ideas which put post-industrial urban areas to new use in a way that contributes to the environmentally sustainable, socially inclusive and economically viable development of a city. Several project ideas to continue the practitioners' cooperation were elaborated and presented. Moreover, participants also had the opportunity to visit examples of structural transformation in the former textile industrial area of the city of Bocholt during the event.

The event in Bocholt could foster learning among participants through presentation of good practices and project ideas that can now be further communicated and implemented elsewhere. 

As part of the event, participants were also given the opportunity to visit the urban transformation project of the former DRU industrial park of the municipality of Oude IJsselstreek, Bocholt’s Dutch twin city, close to the German border. The former DRU industrial park now hosts a cultural center (DRU Cultuurfabriek) and an innovation centre and the site visit offered insights on the transformation process of this industrial area and provided stimulating input for the implementation of sustainable transformation in the participants’ respective home communities.


Connective Cities Dialogue Event
<link file:3152 download file>Transforming Cities: From Industrial Centres to Sustainable Urban Areas
5 - 7 December 2016 in the City of Bocholt, Germany
[pdf, 28 pp., 1,15mb, English Version]


Categories: Good Urban Governance Integrated urban development Participation and urban planning Urban management and administration Documentation Connective Cities
Regions: Europe Germany Bocholt


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