The 100 sq. meter DIETZNBACH project

     |    Monday, der 26. October 2009

Could “100 square meters Dietzenbach” represent an alternative approach to the politically controversial way that Berlin’s old Tempelhof Airport was dealt with?

This is what’s going on in Dietzenbach:


In 1973, decided to turn Dietzenbach into a spillover suburb for Frankfurt, with plans to increase the number of inhabitants from 6,000 to 60,000. The population in Dietzenbach today is only about half that number. The proposed developments of the 1960’s and 1970’s were never completed, and the town is now considered a problem district: alienating high-rise residential buildings, undeveloped tracts of ‘wasteland’, and super-sized roads and traffic routing. The “Dietzenbach – decidedly unfinished” project is an experiment in new forms of city planning.

Project Description

The project’s aim was to find new uses for abandoned land, and to learn how to shift the focus from expansion to re-development of the core areas that had been built. Discussions about the future direction of Dietzenbach took place among the town’s citizens, city administrators and politicians. An interdisciplinary group of state and university representatives and urban planners took part in realizing project goals and in providing scientific support and documentation of the project’s activities.

In the first phase, an art installation in the redeveloped city center served to stimulate interest in the project and to spur resident participation. The installation was a construction utilizing a 600 meter long axle and 2,500 wooden slabs.

Flyers, posters and brochures informed citizens about the symbolic meaning of the wooden slabs: each slab represented a 100 square meter lot and the town’s inhabitants were encouraged to make suggestions as to how to best use these lots. A centrally placed construction trailer served as a contact and information point; over 300 suggestions were received.

In the project’s second phase, citizens who had registered their suggestions were given the opportunity to take a wooden slab and stake a claim on any one of the 30 abandoned lots in the city.

Limited licensing agreements for temporary usage gave citizens first hand experience in taking control of their city. A majority of the usage suggestions were expressed by residents with migration backgrounds (immigrants, foreigners, late repatriates, etc.). Especially significant was the wish expressed by high-rise tower residents for garden space.

Along with allotments for garden use, space for a playground, a chicken farm for children, a wind art installation by school children, and a flower bed were awarded.

A variety of hurdles: contracts valid for only one year, 500 EUR security deposits, too much red tape, kept participation in the project low. Nonetheless, the project successfully contributed to both social and urban planning integration in this city’s highly mixed population.