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RHINOTOPIA at Stellwerk 62 in the City of Dortmund

Setting the course for the future: A (rail) signal tower will be transformed into a temporary experimentation and meeting space for awareness-raising measures around the the topics of the „city of the future“ and new models of participation. Developed as a multidisciplinary foothold urban society, business, science and investors jointly co-design new social and technical innovations and test them in terms of their social benefits and applicability. A marketplace is being created for public, high-profile activities and exchange as well as a nucleus for creative ideas and products.

The aim of the project is to develop a living lab in which concepts and governance models for sustainable living, housing, working, research, learning and lifestyle in the focus of sustainability, digitalization and resilience are tested and implemented at the signal tower Stellwerk 62 through cross-innovation and co-creation. The goals of the European Green Deal ought to be perceptible here.

Bridge to the Neighborhood

The temporary meeting place Stellwerk 62 is located in the northern area of an inner-city brownfield in the city of Dortmund. It is intended to be developed into a smart, urban quarter including a new campus of the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts in the coming years as part of the SMART RHINO project. The major challenge of the transport accessibility for the entire project is a terrain height offset of about 5 meters between the existing, surrounding road network and the higher-lying development area. A connection at the same level is not possible everywhere and the proverbial „bridge“ to the neighboring quarters is thus an important task of project development. For this reason, the topic of „closing the bridge“ is to be discussed with people from the neighboring quarters as part of an informal participation process preceding the urban planning design competition in the form of dialog formats at Stellwerk meeting place, and various scenarios are to be developed together.


From idea to surface

The previously unused Stellwerk 62 and its exterior areas offer the opportunity to exhibit, test and further develop innovative ideas. This not only creates the opportunity to experience and utilizable the currently unused Stellwerk 62 as a meeting place, but also to get to know and help shape the SMART RHINO project development during the development phase. As a marketplace of exchange and a space for experimentation, the meeting place Stellwerk 62 sensitizes the neighborhood for the development of a smart urban quarter, that offers a variety of opportunities for living and learning, for housing and working, for recreational activities and health and sustainable infrastructures. Temporary uses turn the site into a „future village square“ where central themes of smart and sustainable urban development can be tested and further developed in implementation-oriented think tanks.


Innovations to touch and participate in

For the implementation of renewable energy sources for a nearly CO2-neutral neighborhood SMART RHINO, Stellwerk 62 will discuss, test and demonstrate in a low-threshold way how, for example, buildings can become energy producers. This and similar practical examples are intended to sensitize the public for the topic of sustainable energy management and create awareness of the added value of such intelligent procedures and processes. The importance of green and blue infrastructures also plays a major role at the hahwobeStellwerk. Collaborative workshops are to be held to determine the extent to which natural structures and elements contribute to the attractive design of public spaces and how they can be integrated into the newly created neighborhood, but also into existing, neighboring quarters. The topics of resilience and climate adaptation are also two essential components for which awareness and acceptance must be created. This is because the avoidance of heat islands and the creation of amenity qualities through the development of forward-looking and holistic irrigation and drainage systems are fundamental goals of the SMART RHINO project development.

Priority rules for environmental alliance

The most successful concepts find their way into the mainstream when they inspire and are fun across generations! Stellwerk 62 as a meeting place is intended to do just that by inviting the urban community at an early stage to help develop a mobility concept for the SMART RHINO project that enthusiastically relies on the environmental alliance from the outset and figuratively puts the motor traffic on the „siding“. Clever and jointly developed concepts of a sustainable and low-car urban neighborhood replace restrictive traffic policies and thus create greater acceptance with radiance and transmission potential.


Dialog with transfer

The Stellwerk 62 location offers space for a wide variety of dialog-oriented formats that are intended to facilitate close, consistent and transparent dialog between urban society, politics, science, business and the investor. Close support, e.g. by the experts from Baukultur Nordrhein-Westfalen, is not only intended to obtain valuable expertise. Rather, the possibility of transfer for other projects should be secured. This is because Stellwerk 62 offers the opportunity to develop and test new dialogue-oriented formats through the Public Private Academic Partnership (PPAP).


Urban transformation and design quality of the public space

At Stellwerk 62, the future-oriented design of public space, living, working and housing environment as well as the blue, green and also digital quarter infrastructures on a small scale for the big picture (SMART RHINO) are discussed, researched and tested. The new urban quarter itself becomes a living lab. An preceding informal participation process with a wide range of target groups and topics is intended to generate exciting ideas, concepts and visions, for example on how to deal with three historically listed buildings, which will then be integrated into the downstream urban planning competition. In this way, a social design quality and, above all, a high level of implementation acceptance and identification on the part of the urban society with the new neighborhood are already established in an early development phase of the SMART RHINO project.