This set of videos captures the everyday sights, sounds, and sensations of two spaces of transformation in Munich, Germany. Produced for the Urban Environments Initiative (UEI) “Re:Thinking the Urban” workshop in January 2021, they serve as a starting point for discussions concerning urban change and renewal around the world.
UEI directors Eveline Dürr (LMU) and Regine Keller (TUM) provide the commentary for both videos and offer viewers an in-depth look at these spaces that have recently undergone significant transformations and what this could mean for other urban contexts facing similar changes.
The first video showcases the Isarauen—the renaturalized section of Munich’s Isar river. Following an intensive collaboration between public stakeholders, the City of Munich renaturalized an eight-kilometer stretch of the river in the early 2000s as a means of establishing visitor-friendly green and blue spaces in the urban core. Due to its resounding success, the project attracted international attention while garnering local criticism for its overuse, which places pressure on nonhuman residents and habitats.
Conversely, the second video, which spotlights the Schlachthof, considers changes that have occurred to Munich’s historic cattle and slaughterhouse district. Opened in 1878, city officials sought to minimize public health risks associated with animal slaughter by relegating the district to the city outskirts. Today, the area has been absorbed by the growing city and is now an attractive residential and cultural district. While animal slaughter has slightly reduced, it is still very much present, contributing to a multi-layered and fluid urban morphology.
Broadly speaking, these case studies bring to the fore three main topics of interest that connect to other spaces around the globe, namely restoring nature, gentrification, and urban planning. Do renaturalization projects actually work, or do they run against the very idea of what we consider to be natural spaces? What are the impacts of gentrification on plant and animal life in urban areas? And, are planning processes ever really finished in the face of ongoing transformations?
With that, we invite you to jump into these two spaces of living in transformation that will immerse you in urban nature and provide you with ample food for thought!
Case Study I: The Isarauen
Case Study II: The Schlachthof and Viehhof area in Munich
Dumas, Daniel, and Carolin Maertens. “Re:Thinking the Urban: UEI Workshop Report.” Seeing the Woods (blog), 4 March 2021. View it here.