Situated in the Ruhr valley in Germany the Adam Opel Werk I in Bochum was once a symbol of successful structural change from the declining coal mining of the first industrial revolution to mass-manufacturing of the second revolution. With its closing at the end of 2014 it becomes aware again that the region still is in a structural change.
Occupying a space of 65ha and bounded by large streets the Opel factory has been an industrial and infrastructural monument of the mass-manufacturing age. It divided its surroundings, connected with its regional suppliers and had to compete globally. Now that it will be demolished, it leaves a void in a disrupted network of work, education and transport. Structural change becomes unavoidable again. But instead of finding a one-time solution it should become a continuous part of Bochum’s culture. In an innovation-based economy the establishing of an innovative industry is eventually the best way to move forward. Therefore the site needs to reconsider its position on all scales, with the local community, regional network and global economy. It has to find talent, knowledge and innovation and needs to create social and spatial values. Its spatial and organisational structure becomes crucial for its success.
How can the site of the Adam Opel Werk I establish this social, stable and strong economy for Bochum in the context of the disrupted car-manufacturing industry?
Reactivating the disrupted car-industry, the area can become a breading place for novel transportation methods. Through a commons-based industry and an environment that favours innovation, the local economy can compete on a global market. Commonly shared physical and digital resources like innovations, software, work- or networking spaces will be created by an active community of collaborators and protected by a strong institution. A test site for vehicles and a sandbox environment of the surrounding city will allow the easy development of new transportation methods and transform this place into a proving ground of the future of mobility. The programme of the area will be separated in predefined areas with a very specific design integrating in its surroundings and in spaces of negotiation in which the community can develop collaboratively their environment by considering the demands of the local residents, the regional industries and the global participants. By keeping the development of the site open and integrating all involved actors, the site is forearmed and flexible enough to adjust to the uncertain development of the future.