In the industrial revolution, Liege expanded rapidly, a bundle of infrastructure connected Liege with the surrounding regions and cities. Now, since the economical decline, the city shrinks.
The strategy of this project is the elastic city. Looking at history, cities always have been shrinking and expanding. In the phase of shrinking, the city should decide what are its specific qualities. For Liege they are the good infrastructural connections and the nearness of the Ardennes, a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and old mountains.
The urban strategy proposes to invest and densify around the infrastructural nodes. The areas between these nodes, the big declining industrial areas and the worn out housing are slowly transformed to extensive forests like the Ardennes. These transformed areas host recreational functions, and routes connect them with the Ardennes. By transforming a part of the area, a new attractive green quality is created for the remaining houses.
2oo5 Liege, Belgium
The presentation started with maps that illustrate the shifting of the social-cultural and the political-economical boarders since 19oo until 2oo6 in this area. The observation of the urban situation in the border cities of Gorltiz-Zgorzelec, Guben-Gubin, Frankfurt (Oder)-Slubice, just before the opening of the Poland border to the European Union in 2oo6, was shown by use of photos, maps and quotes out of interviews and novels. How these border cities deal with the (re)union has parallels with the unification of East- and West-Berlin.
The influence of the shifting boarders (social, cultural, economical and political) since 19oo until now in non-boarder cities in the area was also presented. The shifting boarders have a big influence on the identity of these cities. Dresden is weeding out the socialistic domination in the city centre and rebuilds hs historical centre. Cottbus wants to transform from industrial city to an international university city but has a low educated unemployed population with many social and racist problems. The design project ‘Keep it, Green it, Live in it!’ illustrates the task in the shrinking city of Merseburg.
As an example of social and cultural reunion, the effect of 2oo6 FIFA World Cup, which Germany hosted at the time of the research, was displayed. This one-month during event brought the former East- and West-Germany more together than 2o years of political effort. ‘The German flag was no longer a monopoly of the neo-Nazis but became again the symbol of the unified German people’.