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- Peter Broich, ‘Neue Stadt Wulfen’, Architektur im Ruhrgebiet. Kreis Recklinghausen, Castrop-Rauxel 1986.
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- Heinrichs, Claus, Im Ruhrgebiet zuhause, Städtebau- und Wohnausstellung Neue Stadt Wulfen, Düsseldorf 1968.
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type of New Town:
> scale of autonomy
Wulfen is located at the border of the northern Ruhrgebiet (Ruhr area), nearby the industrial area in the German federal state Saksen-Anhalt. Wulfen was planned as a company town in West Germany after World War II. It consisted of an industrial area at the border of the northern Ruhr-area and a small number of residences. At the end of the fifties the Ruhrkohlenbezirk (Landscape Planning Association), the land government Nordrhein-Westfalen and the coal mine association decided to open a new mine. Next to the industrial area the association planned a new residential settlement for 50,000 to 60,000 workers. The development company Wulfen mbH was initiated for the coordination of the plans, the finances, the acquisition and sales of land and the realisation of the infrastructure. The goal was to realize an alternative for the existing mining colonies with a new kind of urban plan.
Urban plan and design
In 1961 the association organized a planning competition. The Berlin architect Fritz Eggeling (1913-1966) defeated competitors from Western countries. After Eggeling's early death in 1966 the planning group 'Grosche, Börner, Stumpfl' took the lead. The first land use and building plans were made in 1962 and 1963, but they were changed many times because of new planning ideas that were developed during the planning period. The monotony of large building complexes in the post-war satellite towns of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties was heavily criticized. Differentiation was considered important to stop the schematic spatial structures. According to Eggeling, the town should not be designed in one step as was the case with the first post-war satellite towns. The plan was more a development scheme than a detailed urban design, so future changes in demography and technical changes could also be incorporated. The form of Wulfen was largely based on the natural structure of the landscape. The urban plan consisted of a playful organization of several districts in which different functions like housing, recreation and services were mixed. The centre was located at the intersection of the village and the new settlement. The infrastructure of Wulfen needs special attention. The street system was designed in the form of a honeycomb. The roads were curved and lacked any large intersection with traffic lights. The 'right before left' traffic rule guided the traffic. The pedestrian paths connected every part of the city without crossing roads with traffic lights or zebra stripes but with pedestrian bridges, ensuring that the citizens could walk freely and safely. The main roads that led into the town, moved the cars directly to the parking places in the city, so that cars would not damage the cityscape. Landscape designers paid attention to the balance between nature and culture and the sustainable development of native plants. The free spaces were used for recreational and sports activities.
The architecture was also based on a different concept. To stimulate differentiation, several architects and landscape designers made the designs for the housing districts between the 'lines' of Eggeling's master plan. The architects were obliged to keep the urban planning principles in mind and to adjust to the height, form and external quality of the neighbouring houses in order to maintain unity. The choice of architects and landscape designers was not totally free. First the development company had to agree with the choice, then the architects were to bear part of the costs for the environmental changes and the last order was that buildings should meet a list of requirements: good isolation of floors and walls, electric heat deposits and a shared antenna park. The selected architects experimented with constructions by which free plans were possible without construction walls. One particular building complex was designed according to the Metastadt construction method with prefabricated steel elements. The building was developed by Richard J. Dietrich in the sixties with 102 apartments and a few shops. Apart from one prototype in München this was the first building to be realised. The method saved time, because the steel elements only had to be assembled at the building location and it made flexible interiors possible. With these 'flexible interiors' the inhabitants were free to organize and furnish their homes as they wanted and therefore suited a greater part of the population. The larger part consisted of one family houses with private gardens. Multi-storey buildings were not totally banned, but beautified with different materials and forms. The Finnish architect Toiyo Korhonen designed the new building area of Finnstadt with a shopping passage after the design of Josef Paul Kleiheus.
During the construction phase it became clear that a planned population growth of 50,000 could not be realized in Wulfen because the mining activities were not that successful. The decline in coal production resulted in a decline in employment. The planned amount of inhabitants was reduced to 30,000 in 1970. The municipality of Lemback and the West German Landesbank Girozentrale financed the biggest part of the building costs. The bank loans made it possible to achieve large residential areas and infrastructure in spite of the production decline. The building process started slowly, because of a minimum of housing sales. But the 'development association' was able to prevent the project going wrong by taking care of the costs. In 1975 the first school was delivered and after that, administrative buildings, a Kindergarten, guesthouses, leisure facilities and a shopping centre were built. The building complex of the Metastadt however already had to be torn down at the end of the eighties, because of building faults and vacancy. The demand for houses decreased in the eighties and with the opening of the shopping arcade, many shops moved out. In 1986, after one year of vacancy, the municipality decided to demolish the Metastadt that could never accomplish to be the ideal way of prefabrication.
Old and new Wulfen were united in one municipality in the 1980s. The name was changed into Neue Stadt Wulfen in 1985 although it was almost never used by the inhabitants. Nowadays people talk about Old-Wulfen and Wulfen-Barkenberg or just Barkenberg. With this change of name they probably are trying to forget that Wulfen was originally built as a New Town. At that moment the municipality of Wulfen had a population of more than 17,000 inhabitants and not more than 5,500 of them lived in old Wulfen.