Internationally renowned artists and landscapes architects (e.g. Piet Oudolf) transformed the previously inaccessible sewage treatment plant into a unique park.
BernePark in Bottrop is located on the so-called Emscher Island between Gasometer Oberhausen and Nordsternpark Gelsenkirchen, directly linked to the Emscher Radweg (Emscher cycle path). BernePark is one of the extraordinary, transformed industrial monuments in the region: Wastewater has been treated here since the 1950s. In 1997 the sewage treatment plant with the two round basins and the turbine house was shut down and almost fell into oblivion. Its revitalisation as a place of industrial culture took place within the context of EMSCHERKUNST.2010 a summer art festival with installations and interventions at a number of places along the river Emscher.
Internationally renowned artists and landscapes architects (e.g. Piet Oudolf) transformed the previously inaccessible sewage treatment plant into a unique park. One clarifier remained as a lake accessible via a pontoon bridge, the second was transformed into a "theatre of plants" with thousands of perennials and grasses reminiscent of a green amphitheatre. The main building now serves as a restaurant and parts of the former machinery have been lovingly preserved as decorative highlights. The unusual "Parkhotel" is unique in Germany: Five canal pipes converted into bedrooms offer overnight experiences with views into the starry sky above the Ruhr Area.
BernePark was one element of EMSCHERKUNST.2010 which had a reported total budget of about 6 Mio. Euros, but included 19 works of art and landscape interventions.
Evidence of success
The new park, including a playground for children, is well used by the local population. It also attracts visitors from abraod with the use of the restaurant and the "hotel" as an additional evidence. Professionals and professional magazines consider it as a unique transformation which can be a good practice at similar places across Europe.
Currently the access by car is difficult as a weak street bridge has to be closed, but people are encouraged to come by bike as the sites is located alongside one of the main regional cycling tracks.
Potential for learning or transfer
Similar sewage water treatment plants will become redundant at a number of sites due to technical progress and environmental reasons. To work with artists and landscape designers in developing a creative, green and inviting use for the remaining building structures can be a good alternative to tearing down everything and starting from sketch.
It is also an important factor that people who live close to those sites, for the first time are allowed to enter these sites which have been forbidden and "unfriendly" for many years. Thus it is infrastructure turned into green infrastructure.