SYMPOSIUM: ''Regions and Projects"


Cologne, 17.07.14, 14-18 h, Haus der Architektur

The symposium ‘Regions and Projects’ focused on the bigger picture of the Rhine-Region and the characteristics and strategies of our partner regions with the aim to link both scales to the results of the research on projects.




Frank van Oort

“Economic potentials of the Rhine corridor – myths and realities”




Theo Deutinger

“Core and Periphery”




Helmut Thoele

“4 regions, one comparative approach”



Helmut Thoele’s input sets the starting point for a discussion of current means in metropolitan development in the four partnering regions. Despite the broad range of issues partners bring to discussion individual concerns clustered around a certain thematic core. All partners describe a significant shift from mainly physical planning tasks with a technical plan as the central instrument to new assignments in the context of metropolitan development.

Significant shift from mainly physical planning tasks to new assignments in the context of metropolitan development.

This shift extends from broadened communication schemes for the idea of metropolisation, up to the adoption of new fields of action, set outside traditional planning agendas, such as education (Rhein-Ruhr). In this shift the orientation on strategic objectives is discussed as a strong hold for metropolitan planning. Flexible approaches are considered to be the means to achieve them. In this process the negotiation of a new balance between formal planning instruments, such as plans and long-term fixed policy guidelines, and informal ones, aiming at communication and a broader legitimation of metropolitan planning, is an important moment.

Related to this re-orientation there is also a quest for a broader involvement on metropolitan planning. Whereas some regional planning organizations seek direct and strong relations to people in the area also in strategic matters (Rhein-Ruhr, Rhein-Neckar); others build on vernacular knowledge of decision makers and seek the feedback of the end users more with regard to concrete projects (Köln-Bonn). However, all participants agree that the region is not ‘one big thing’, but that it is made up by single entities that contribute with their particular qualities to a metropolis.

 the region is not ‘one big thing’, but that it is made up by single entities that contribute with their particular qualities to a metropolis.

As a final conclusion of the discussion stands on one hand the term of the regional DNA, that refers to modes of development, core economic fields, typologies, landscape potentials etc. that have guided processes in a region over longer periods. On the other hand ‘plan b capacity’ is defined as the ability of decision makers to derive valid long-term objectives from these pre-conditions and to achieve them set on adaptable strategies.




Matthias Rottmann

“Project Research”




Stefan Carsten

“Germany: Future scenarios”




The discussion readopts current shifts in planning as the central topic. Projects are highlighted as a means to facilitate this re-orientation practically and to establish new structures and objectives. Opposed to the perpetuation of old planning guidelines they can be used to develop new topics and areas of intervention.

Projects are vehicles and catalysts for regional development.

These projects are vehicles and catalysts for regional development, because they help stakeholders to gain a common picture of a region and to elaborate joint planning objectives for it.

Projects stand also for the highly complex organisational patterns in which planning takes place. The professional management and communication of processes is stressed not to be an end in itself, but rather as a means to achieve a high embeddedness of planning projects in their societal context. This is considered an important success factor.

The general increase of bottom-up projects is discussed positively. However, decisive for the success of metropolitan strategies is the effective interplay of different governmental levels, corporative agendas and initiatives. Respectively multi-level governance remains at the core of metropolitan development.

The concluding words clarify that there is no alternative solution apart from the regional one. To achieve the goals of metropolitan development and gain a common understanding on these goals, projects are an important driver. Spatial quality on a bigger scale is gained in these processes by introducing a regional design perspective.


Beyond the topics brought-up, the different institutional set-ups and conceptions of the metropolitan bodies are reflected in issues they handle and approaches they apply. This also characterises the debate.

The Regionalverband Ruhr builds current policies on the rich history of regional planning in the Ruhr area and a particular strong focus on project making on a metropolitan scale. Structural change and the requirements this brought-up for the physical constitution of the area have been the central fields of action for metropolitan planning earlier. Today the regions socio-economic make-up gains increasing importance as a development aim and is approached in the particular working field of education policies.

 The regions socio-economic make-up gains increasing importance.

In the Region Köln-Bonn metropolitan development rests highly on the capitalisation of the intrinsic potentials of the area and the understanding of it as a highly successful cultural landscape with many small and medium sized urban cores, whose history traces back to Roman times. More recently the region managed to deal positively with the relocation of governmental functions from Bonn to Berlin.

The setting of a metropolitan or rather regional agenda in the Rhein-Neckar-area followed the initiative of companies such as BASF. The regional development agency is also largely funded by companies settled in the area. At the same time it is politically legitimised by all three federal districts it cuts across. In setting regional development aims it acts in the tension between corporative interests and the development agendas of three legitimised governments.

Vereniging Deltametropool operates currently in a situation where planning in the Netherlands, as an effect of governmental cut backs, is stripped down to core tasks. As a result the discussion on concepts, such as the Deltametropolis or the Randstad at decision making levels is currently rather low. In this situation the Vereniging seeks to set impulses for region building by the generation of knowledge and the set-up of concrete projects in the fields of transport-oriented-development and the metropolitan landscape and by initiating a discussion on the character of the metropolis.


REPORT: Isabel Neumann

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