PROJECT: CentrO Oberhausen


  • The growth of Oberhausen, an independent municipality in Northrhine-Westphalia, was inextricably linked to its industrial past. The most defining spatial features of the city was largely determined by the needs of the manufacturers.
  • As factories closed, unsightly and polluted spots appeared on the map with no apparent value. Declining retail sales in both relative and real terms placed tremendous pressure on the sector to renew itself.
  • 39,000 manufacuring jobs were lost between 1961- 1987. Unemployment rates were at 17%.
  • City officials began to think proactively about economic development as the city was plagued with mounting debt, increasing from 181 million euro in 1980 to 233 million euro a decade later.


  • Create 10,000 low-skilled jobs.
  • Spatially integrate the CentrO with existing townships.
  • Overcome the existing spatial barrier of the former steel plant in the city.
  • Enable the reuse of industrial land and improve Oberhausen’s industrial image.
  • In 1992, the 98 ha site was bought by the City of Oberhausen for about 10 million euro without prior decontamination.
  • The gasometer, a landmark of a former gas holder that is the highest in Europe (117.5m) is located near to the CentrO.
  • Central location in Europe’s largest conurbation. 60 million people live within a radius of 250km from CentrO.
  • 4 million people can reach CentrO within 30 minutes. 
  • 12 million people can reach CentrO witin 60 minutes. 
  • 30 million people can reach centrO within 2 hours.
  • Attract 30 million annual visitors with a purchasing power of 150 million euro per year. 
  • Compensate for the predominantly car-oriented design of the centre by linking it to the public transport system of the city.
  • The nearest motorway exit and access to it was upgraded for 22 million euro. The centre is strategically located near three important motorways. Within a radius of 2.5km, there are twelve motorway exits leading out of the CentrO.
  • The combination of shopping, entertainment and tourism was used to help the relative decline of retail sales by offering other attractions and foster a synergy of functions.
  • 14,000 free car parking spaces.
  • To avoid any delays, one seat at local government was dedicated to address affairs regarding CentrO with external parties. 
  • A better spatial integration of the CentrO may have been possible if residential development would have been encouraged along the new public transport line.
  • The shopping centre was completed in a period of only two years with investments totalling 460 million euros. The grand opening took place on 12 September 1996.
  • The former minister President of Northrhine-Westphalia, Peer Steinbrück, opened the Marina on 21 August 2004, offering 70 moorings and 250km of navigable waterways.
  • The Giant Legoland Discovery Centre, the only one in west Germany, opened on 14 March 2013 and occupies a site of approx 2500m2.
  • The motivation behind the CentrO was primarily economic as the large scale development did not connect to the traditional settlement structure. 
  • The new jobs in CentrO offered lower wages and were often part-time, resulting in a 10% drop in the average wage levels for the city.
  • As only 15% of the new jobs went to people over 45, CentrO did not significantly help those who lost their industrial jobs. 
  • The centrO has proved to be a dangerous competition to retail and services in Oberhausen with a loss in shop value of 30%.
  • Loss of customers to the CentrO were even observed in the neighbouring cities of Essen, Mülheim and Bottrop.

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Project info




1994 - Present


Approximately 23 Million guest a year. Heavy Industry to consumer industry. 1 Million visitors after six shopping days. Markstrasse




The Stadium Group, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation company, CPP Investment board, The City of Oberhausen