IBA method for regional regeneration during recession

The financial situation of local governments is worse than you might imagine. As a consequence of prefectural and municipal governments being unable to afford the minimum subsidy rate set in the guidelines, beneficiaries' burden is being increased. When it comes to public works based on the principal of local application, there are more and more cases in which beneficiaries cannot even submit the application for their business operations.

Even if the beneficiaries obtain the minimum subsidy rate set in the guidelines and, in turn, apply for their business operations, the burden of prefectural and municipal governments is covered by issuing more local bonds. Grants from the national government to local governments cover bond redemption. Consequently, the account is balanced by the issuance of deficit-covering national government bonds, which is an unhealthy way of raising funds for public works.

Isn't there a healthier way to form social capitals in the age of financial difficulties?
I would like to bring attention to developing public works through partnership.

For example, consider the "IBA (Internationale Bauausstellung = International Building Exhibition) Emscher Park" in Germany and "SEM (Societe d'Economie Mixte) in France. Let me focus on the IBA Emscher Park.

"IBA Emscher Park" as an impact-generating machine for a new era.
In Germany, the history of attempts to rejuvenate local economies through exhibitions is longer than expected.

It started from a building exhibition in Darmstadt in 1901, which was followed by a building exhibition in Stuttgart organized by the Deutscher Werkbund in 1927. After World War II, the tradition of exhibitions revived, including building exhibitions in Hannover in 1951 and in Berlin in 1957. And more recently, "IBA (international building exhibition) Berlin" was held in 1987.

The IBA is a method which works similarly to, for instance, the National Athletic Meet in Japan. Each time the National Athletic Meet is held, infrastructure, such as the sports-related facilities and highways, in the host prefecture is improved. Similarly, in Germany, the aim of holding building exhibitions by international architects in the region is improvement of social capitals in a certain region.

In Berlin, for instance, a 200-billion-yen project in which some 200 architects from 15 countries participated was implemented. This experiment in Berlin was introduced to Japan in 1988 as the "international building exhibition -declaration of urban living" (IBA exhibition) at Sogetsu Hall in Tokyo. In Kumamoto Prefecture, the "Kumamoto Artpolis initiative", which seems to be an imitation of that, was implemented.

The "IBA Emscher Park" was aimed at the regeneration through the IBA method of the Ruhr region, which was once the biggest center of coal and steel industries in Europe and which recently was plagued with unemployment and a worsened environment.

Although the goal was to "revive community, economy, society, culture, environment and cities in the Ruhr region", what they really wanted was "to break the industry-oriented constitution of the region which had lasted for 150 years".

As a strategy "creating innovation under this least innovative environment", they selected the "IBA Emscher Park" as "an impact-generating machine facilitating structural changes in the Ruhr region" at this epochal passing point from the 1900s to the 2000s. The hope was to "form a new Ruhr region where knowledge-intensive industries and environment, culture, living and work places can coexist while reusing and recycling existing infrastructure, industrial monuments and open spaces in the 21st century".

Either IBA or international exposition?
The "IBA Emscher Park" is different from the past IBA method in many ways.

First, the "IBA Emscher Park" employs the IBA method as a format, though the contents of the "general development strategy of the Ruhr region" was embodied in a different way. The strategy was called "change without growth".

For eight years from 1979 through 1987 at the "IBA Berlin", architectural designs by international architects were built following competitions. However it was not designed to change Berlin's social and economical structures.

In this regard, it is safe to say that it was an "international exposition for eight years following which pavilions would not be dismantled".

As to the "IBA Emscher Park", more than 100 projects implemented in 17 cities from 1987 as part of Christoph Zoepel's idea of the ten-year "presentation years" through1999. Each project was organically linked with the formation of social capitals in the Ruhr region.

Large-scale projects based on long-term strategy will be continued beyond the "presentation years".

EXPO 2000 Hannover with "human-nature-technology" as its theme will be held from June to October 2000 in Germany. When comparing the IBA method with world expositions, the differences between the two can be characterized as Dispersion vs. Concentration, Hardware strategy vs. Software strategy and Innovation vs. Sustainment.

At the Hannover world expo, existing facilities will be utilized as much as possible and as for the newly built facilities, their post-expo permanent usage are already decided, in most cases.

In this respect, a current trend is to think separately of the formation of infrastructure by holding a temporary international exposition and the improvement of the long-term social capital of the region.

There is some argument over whether it is necessary to consider the developmental projects of new residential towns when improving the infrastructure around the site of the Aichi world expo, which will be held in five years.

The current trend seems to be the "world expo for creating new values and paradigms" and the "IBA method for the improvement of social capitals of a certain region based on one key concept".

Community-building efforts through the holding of conventions and events as impact-generating agents, which swept past eras, can merely serve as opportunities to create new values. However, the days in which conventions and events themselves were considered strategies for facilitating regional development is gone.

Experiment of partnership-oriented public works
Secondly, the "IBA Emscher Park" is a project supported by partnership.

It is typically shown in housing construction projects. There are 28 housing construction projects. Former apartment houses are rented to workers; 3,000 out of a planned 6,000 houses are reused as houses for sale.

There are a number of apartment houses that were built based on the idea of a rural city. They are historically valuable and are left vacant. Therefore, when reusing those houses, potential residents are obliged to participate in the process from the formulation of a reuse plan to repair and reuse of the houses.

In this way, "bottom-up urban planning" as opposed to top-down planning is realized here.

Another unique aspect of the projects is participation by long-term unemployed youth.

They contribute in particular to the creation of recreation areas and that in the long run leads to secure employment for the unemployed.

As to the 3,000 houses which will be newly built, competitions for designs friendly to the socially disadvantaged, including the elderly, children and foreign workers, were formed. Also, the potential residents' opinions are being reflected in the designs.

Partnerships among the concerned city, town and village officials, labor unions, consumer groups, architects, environmental groups, state government, businesses and NPOs are made for projects other than housing, as well. The emphasis is on illustrating, experiencing and participating in the process till the projects are actually implemented.

Realignment and re-evaluation of existing infrastructure
Thirdly, the projects are not intended solely to "create new infrastructure" as the "IBA Berlin".

Their main purposes are to "realign with an integrated concept, re-evaluate from cultural and environmental viewpoints and to reuse the existing infrastructure".

Even now, closed industrial monuments are reused as landmarks or monuments (slide show is available) based on the idea of "public art" by adding some artistic decoration. Huge industrial plants have been reused as multi-purpose spaces, including theatres, halls and playgrounds, after the formation of international competitions.

In many cases, the state-of-the-art MXD (mixed use -development for complex usage) method is being employed in the designing stage.

There is an even more advanced movement which makes use of existing railways for access and creates a route of "industrial monument tourism". It has been said that "IBA cannot show. IBA must be experienced." "Industrial monument tourism" would be another project under the new concept.

As I mentioned earlier, reuse of apartment houses with traditional rural city style for rent or to own also is one example of the realignment of existing infrastructure based on a new value.

Make environment a powerful concept
Fourthly, the "IBA Emscher Park" is characterized as putting priority on environmental regeneration rather than economical recuperation. Environmental deterioration in the Ruhr region was triggered greatly by the coal mining industry that once flourished here.

"River Emscher System" is a 350-km-long open conduit of sewage.

In the days of coal mining, underground sewage construction was not allowed for fear of a cave in. That is why an open sewage system was used, and therefore the environmental deterioration was remarkable.

Now that the coal mining days are gone. They are planning to improve the environment in the next 20 to 30 years through measures including changing it to an underground pipeline, modifying the concrete conduit above ground to a near-nature type, setting up water processing plants and to facilitate water circulation making use of rainwater. As to contaminated soil in industrial zones, some improvement has been made by the state government buying up the contaminated area and reselling it after cleanup.

Also, the "Emscher Landschaft (Landscape) Park Project", one of the highlights of the "IBA Emscher Park", is composed of the 300-sq-meter "seven regional green corridors" project.

This is to realize eight model projects in 20 to 30 years. It is a main project that could change the conventional image of the Ruhr region from an industrial zone to an environmental image.

The concept was prepared in 1920 but never properly realized. The present idea, which picks up on the early idea, is to create a complete park system by linking north-south corridors and east-west corridors.

By doing so, isolated open spaces will be linked and scenic views of rural areas will be remarkably improved.

Challenge is high-quality infrastructure predicting the future
Fifthly, the formation of infrastructure that could be a basis to facilitate industrial integration in the new Ruhr region in the 21st century.

The project with the key phrase "working in the park" aims to reuse existing plant sites. 22 projects including 500-ha of land and 11 technical centers, will be implemented in five to seven years. They are designed to enhance the functions of commerce, services, science, parks, entrepreneurship incubation, etc. and every one of them could play a role in ushering in the new industrial integration.

The "Rheinelbe Science Park in Gelsenkirchen" is one of the best business centers in Europe with the world's largest roof-mounted solar collector. This building implies the future industry in the Ruhr region.

What is commonly pursued here is upgrading the quality of infrastructure.

Particularly, the challenge is to upgrade the quality of each element of scenic view, urban development, architecture and environment.

Sixthly, the "IBA Emscher Park" does not have a fixed master plan from the start and they try to achieve the goals of the project under extremely flexible organization.
The "IBA Emscher Park" has the following seven goals.

  1. regeneration of scenic park
  2. improvement of environment of River Emscher sewage system
  3. converting canal area into an area for recreation
  4. reuse of industrial monuments, including making them landmarks
  5. creating working sites in the park by reusing existing industrial sites
  6. constructing innovative houses which fit new lifestyles
  7. improvement of social, cultural and sports facilities

Having these seven goals as guidelines, the "IBA Emscher Park Planning Company Ltd.", a staffed by about 30 people, acts as the central figure, integrating concepts for the sake of strategical identity in the future of more than 100 projects. Based on these frameworks, individual projects are stimulated, coordinated, managed and advertised. ..this is their method.

There is no special legislation. As for funding, it depends on the combination of existing loan menus.

In the past ten years, DM five billion has been invested into the "IBA Emscher Park. Two thirds of that is public subsidies from the central government and EU, etc. The rest is private investment.

Basically, the responsibility for these projects is on the developers, most of which are local governments and some private companies and NPOs.

This shows that if the key concept of the project is clearly defined, even without special incentives, the concept per se will become a status and attract more entities to participate in the project.

This was a brief introduction to the method of "IBA Emscher Park" in Germany, which ended its role for now with its "Finale '99" from April to September 1999.

Domestic movement to adopt the method to redevelop specific areas
In Japan, as well, there is a movement to adopt the IBA method for redevelopment of certain areas.

The first sites are Kitakyushu and Iwaki cities, where regional characteristics are similar to that of the Ruhr region. There are movements to rejuvenate the regions as eco-towns by using the IBA method.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry designated nine areas (Kitakyushu City, Kawasaki City, Iida City, Kani-Kamo region in Gifu Prefecture, Ohmuta City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Sapporo City, the basin of the Yoneshiro River in Akita Prefecture and Uguisuzawa Town in Miyagi Prefecture) as eco-town areas in fiscal year 1997.

Most of the nine areas used to be colliery zones and suffer from the same social, environmental and economical exhaustion as the Ruhr region.

In this respect, this method will attract gather attention in the nation-wide development of eco-town initiatives in the future.

The second site is the Nishi-yodogawa area in Osaka. There is a movement to formulate a Japanese version of IBA as a method through partnerships on polluted areas to begin a regeneration project in this area.

People there believe an institution similar to the "IBA Emscher Park Planning Company Ltd." is necessary as an intermediary to facilitate the project in partnership with "residents-businesses-administration".

The third one is in Okinawa. The movement there is to adopt the IBA as a method for fostering Okinawa region.

It was proposed in the "New Industrial Promotion Policy for Cosmopolitan City Formation" in November 1996 to set up a "Cosmopolitan City Formation Facilitating Organization" (tentative name) employing the IBA method as an organization to coordinate various projects.

However, this was during the former governor's administration and I do not know if there is any change in the evaluation of this method since the present governor was elected.

The fourth site is Aichi world expo site, as I mentioned earlier.
There have been arguments over developmental projects for new residential towns, including the construction of houses that accommodate approximately 6,000 people.

In this age of financial difficulties for local governments, it is no longer easy to plan improvement of infrastructure, including usage of the site, based on the effects of the world expo.

In such circumstances, the IBA method will probably be valued as a relatively certain and advantageous method.

Nonetheless, I am sure that flexible political methods, including the IBA method, based on powerful regional concepts will show great strength in regional regeneration in the 21st century.

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