Elective Course | Urban Landscape Biennale (Lala Ruhr): The green city of tomorrow

The course

Below you can find information about the elective course

The Biennale of the Urban Landscape: The overarching concern of the Biennale of the Urban Landscape is the vision and concrete shape of the green city of the future. The radiant power of a concentration of themes, events and actors in one place and at one time is an amplifier for projects, ideas and processes. The first Biennale in September 2022 will take place over three weekends and offer different formats and events. The focus will be on three main themes that complement each other and yet address different audiences. This will create a versatile and attractive framework with a festival atmosphere for committed exchange and creativity. Each focus will be complemented by a tailor-made excursion programme to places, actors and project presentations. Between the weekends, residencies, students and young professionals will also be on site, collaborating interdisciplinarily in workshops and projects and discussing and presenting their results.

Cities are and will remain the places where most people spend their time and also consume a significant amount of resources and energy with their lifestyle. This way of life has an impact on a global scale. This degradation of our landscapes has led even animals to seek refuge in cities more and more, and biodiversity is shifting to urban areas. The already noticeable changes in the climate are encountering less resilient systems and infrastructures in our cities, which are quickly overwhelmed by drought, heat or even heavy rain and can thus also lose their quality of life. The current IPCC report once again clearly emphasises that these already known changes are occurring faster and more effectively than predicted a few years ago. With the Climate Adaptation Act, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has already set the course for making the transformation of cities a task of public service. But what can a city look like that is fit for the future? We want to address the question of how cities can be productively integrated into a landscape and an ecosystem on a larger scale, and how this can look in detail, in the direct living environment of the inhabitants, on their doorstep. In a change of perspective, how can a city become a high-performance landscape that is productive, resilient, liveable and inclusive, integrating buildings, streets, people and your resource needs? Under the motto #thinklandscape, we call for questioning and rediscovering our cities in a change of perspective and a paradigm shift.

According to the concept of the regional open space system of the Ruhr area, which has been pursued by the RVR (Regionalverband Ruhr) since the 1980s, it is characterised by 7 regional green corridors that run through the settlement structure of the Ruhr area in a north-east direction. As part of our semester project, we will examine the southern part of the third green corridor, starting in Bottrop and running through Essen and Gelsenkirchen to Bochum, in terms of its capabilities and characteristics, and develop a design to improve its functions.

As part of the Biennale, a competition is being held for students to develop innovative landscape structures for our cities. The participants in this Elective Course will develop a joint contribution for this using the example of the third green corridor of the Ruhr for the southern, perforated section. For this purpose, groups of up to 3 students will develop an expertise on four different functions that green spaces can assume in our cities. What characteristics must a green space have in order to optimally promote and support the following functions.

The functions are:


  1. “Green space as animal and plant habitat” for the benefit of nature conservation, especially species diversity, ecosystem protection and many productive ecosystem services.

Here, those aspects are taken into account that make green space a habitat for a diverse plant and animal world again. Relevant is the conservation and protection of local animal and plant species, the reintroduction of displaced species, the regulation of neophytes, and the promotion of their services that also benefit humans, e.g. pollination, pest control, etc. What characteristics does green space need in order to be sufficient as animal and plant habitat and how can it be integrated back into a large, regional context in this respect?


  1. “Green space as climate regulator” for the benefit of health and nature conservation and climate adaptation

Green space has the ability to have a positive effect on a natural water cycle. In addition to the climatic functions of evaporation, groundwater recharge, cooling effects at night and shading, green spaces have the ability to minimise the consequences of climate change by retaining and draining water, which can otherwise lead to damage to infrastructure and living beings. Which characteristics does green space need in order to be able to function optimally as a climate regulator, and which characteristics must be restored in order to allow it to function in this way in a regional context?


3 “Green space as a climate protector”

Green space can serve as a buffer and filter for pollutants that otherwise enter the atmosphere and ultimately lead to global warming. For example, trees bind CO2, they can filter fine dust. The soil also buffers pollutants and retains them so that they do not enter the groundwater. Which green space elements can take over these functions and other regulating ecosystem services? What mix of plants and what soil material are conducive to these functions?


4 “Basic services” is the anthropocentric function of green space. Humans benefit from the cultural ecosystem services of green spaces for many activities. Green spaces provide recreation in nature, a healthy environment, can take on educational functions and be a place for sport and play. What does the perforated green space in the south of Gelsenkirchen need to be like in order to take on these functions? How can this function be integrated into a larger regional context?



A First, the required characteristics of green spaces for these four functions are elaborated on the basis of a study of the literature. B In a second step, the prerequisites of these functions will be examined and further developed in a regional context. C The transfer to the local conditions in the south of Gelsenkirchen (district Ückendorf) will be worked out in the third step. The negotiation processes for the implementation of the various functions accompany the design work throughout the semester. A synthesis of all design results is aimed for as a joint result at the end of the semester. Three joint posters and a joint brochure on all functions and the joint synthesis result are the final products that will be submitted and presented at the Lala Ruhr competition.

Part of the task is to obtain geodata and maps, and to find literature, research and study results on the relevant topics. The characteristics that green space must possess in order to optimally fulfil the respective functions should be carefully documented and supported with sources.

The event

© Jerome Chauvistré / lala.ruhr

Perspectives for productive, resilient and liveable urban regions:
The Campus Week as an experimental, interdisciplinary and international format for young planners was convincing through cooperation and wide-ranging visions.

In order to discuss change, diversity and the future, not only established experts are needed, but also the perspective of young people who set out to design future urban landscapes. The 1st Biennale of the Urban Landscape had the goal of setting impulses for the future of cities in general and the Metropole Ruhr. The Campus Week took this idea into account: for four days, more than 30 students, including international students, from three universities worked in interdisciplinary groups in the Science Park on a very special competition task and presented it to the jury and an international audience at the start of the convention weekend.

The three cooperating universities RWTH Aachen (Chair of Urban Planning and Design, Transforming City Regions), TU Dortmund (Department of Urban Planning and Building Processes) and TH OWL Höxter (Department of Landscape Architecture) and lala.ruhr had deliberately defined the question in a broad way

Pictures © Ravi Sejk / lala.ruhr

Students Work for the Event

Productive Landscapes for Ückendorf, Gelsenkirchen | 3E: Ecology, Economy, and Energy

A project by Melike Nur Ülsever, Nida Bilgen Safiya Raheman and Safiya Raheman
Supervisors: Prof. Christa Reicher, Fabio Bayro Kaiser and Anne Söfker-Rieniets

Landscapes around us are changing and the challenges are coming with it. The industrial landscape of Ruhr region is a successful example for this transformation. The main focus of this concept is redefining landscape productivity and at the same time integrating inhabitants in the development of the landscape. Opposite of passive landscapes which consumes resources, productive landscape can generate resources.


Our concept offers nature-based micro-climate improvements while producing green resources. By emphasizing the existing potentials, the concept increases the mixture of uses and functions. The main factor of Productive Landscape is the integration of inhabitants and non-human species. The 3E’s -Ecology, Economy and Energy- maximize opportunities through green resources, whereas providing nature-based jobs, and creating habitats for species. Gelsenkirchen’s gain is the introduction of new animal habitats and utilizing biodiversity as a tool for climate regulation.


Productive Landscapes envisions increased the life quality in Gelsenkirchen through the 3E approach. The ecology approach highlights the importance of banding together the human and non-human inhabitants to increase biodiversity for protect food security. With green energy opportunities and recycling strategies, Energy goes along with a sustainable Gelsenkirchen that realizes its full potential. By promoting local green opportunities, and providing a resilient economic plan, the Economy enriches people’s lives and contributes to social prosperity.

Link to the project page.