Shrinking regions growing Democracy

– Update: 13 Nov. 2012 –
by DasP Students: Johnny Tascon, Bert Oostdijk and Wu Xiayu.

As a way to propose a set of scenarios for the people to decide upon the future of the Prignitz region, the “urban tool –kit for Hoogvliet” by Maxwan and Crimson has been taken as an example to implement.

After examining different aspects of the region, like the economy, the landscape, the electoral behavior, demographics, and vacant buildings, we tried to sum up the fundamental choices the region faces. Prignitz is not only a shrinking region; it is also one that seems to have little idea of how to move towards a better future. By visualizing possible futures for the region, and taking them to their extremes, we want to provoke the people of Prignitz into taking a stand on their future. We want to present them with four choices:

Should the region shrink or grow?
Should the landscape be productive or should nature reign free?
Should the political system be based on collectivism or should it be neoliberal: each for himself?
Should the region be autarkic or dependent on elsewhere?

We created a matrix in which the effects of all possible combinations of these choices are visualized, taking the future of the church of the village of Hinzdorf as an example. Some of these combinations are viable, some are completely unrealistic (like growth!), and some are just thought-provoking. We hope to move forward with the plausible and interesting combinations, to show the how these would affect the regional as well as the local scale.

– 4 November 2012 –
This time a special update from our Design as Politics students Charjan Steenhuis en Evelien van Winsen, at Aedes Network Campus Berlin.

During the ‘Resilience and Democracy’ workshop we are studying the region of Prignitz in Brandenburg. This former GDR region is dealing with great shrinkage. After the unification of Germany in 1990, industry moved away and with the disappearance of employment, also the people started to move away.

Take for example the town of Wittenberge. Within two years from 1990 the sewing machine factory, oil mill and pulp factory were closed. The city has been shrinking ever since, leaving almost one third of the buildings empty. Did you know that you can buy a monumental Jugendstill house with garden in the inner city for 15.000 euros? Despite the absurd vacancy ratio, German government seems to deny (or underestimate?) the problem.

What if we forget about growth and take shrinkage as a given. What kind of attitudes can be imposed on Prignitz? What are the spatial consequences? We’ll keep you updated as we progress!