Category Archives: CBD

A few hours in Dusseldorf district 1&3

Dusseldorf is a great city. Like Rotterdam, Dusseldorf was badly bombed in WW2 and has been rebuilt.  Both use architecture and a Mast/Tower to make their city skyline stand out, and both have great inner city parks. Rotterdam has Het Park; Dusseldorf has Hor-garten. What I like about Dusseldorf is that it allows itself to feel more like a city centre than a business centre, with the parks being linked together, like the paths alongside the landscaped canal of the Konigsalle.

Altstadt (Old Town) is a borough in District 1. It lies between Hor-garten, Benrather Str, Breite Str and the Rhine, covering an area of half a square kilometre and has 2,297 inhabitants (2000). The density is 4,594 people per km². Compare this to what the Hamilton Central City Transformation Plan tells us: the Hamilton central area is 1.29 km2, and is home to 3,000 people, giving a density of 2,325 people per km2. Point to note: the safety benefit of a 24-hour ‘eyes on the street’ population in Hamilton central is half that of Altstadt in Dusseldorf.

 

A second point to note: is the small area near the river’s edge that is commercial (by the Ferris wheel). The Dusseldorf Rhine promenade itself has lots of width, making it a perfect place for walking, biking, hanging out… away from the busy commercial area.

 

District 3 contains the borough of Hafen, which is also known as Media Port. The borough covers 3.85 km2 and is predominantly commercial and industrial in nature. It has 212 residents (2000), giving a density of 55 people per km2. (City of Industry is very similar with 210 residents). The local tourist book states that 8,500 people work in this Media Port area, giving an employment density of 2,200 jobs per km2, which is similar to the City of Industry at 2,230 employees per km2, and a bit more than the planned Tainui Ruakura project at 1,780 employees per km2.

   

In total, District 3 covers an area of 24.20 square kilometres and (as of December 2009) has about 110,000 inhabitants, giving a density of 4,543 people per km2 (ppkm2), which is 3 times greater than Hamilton NZ. But this is too basic a way of measuring population density, because District 3 is made up of 8 boroughs with large density variations. There are Friedrichstadt, with 17,177 ppkm2 and Unterbilk with 11,039 ppkm2, which gives the area a big city, high-density look, and there are also Hamm, Volmerswerth and Flehe, with between 908 and 1,204 ppkm2, which no-one really notices. These lower density areas allow people to choice a more rural/village life style, yet still be in the city.

Category: CBD, Demographics, Economics

Lunch in Graf Wilhelm Platz: Solingen

Graf Wilhelm Platz area in Solingen ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to town centres. First, it has an attractive bus terminal area (more on this below). It also has a town square, used as a market place for entry-level retailers, in addition to which there is a car-free on-street retail area (Alter Markt), an open mall (Muhlenplatz), and very good enclosed mall (Hofgarten). The city itself is known as the “City of Blades”, and is the centre of the German cutlery industry; about 90% of the German cutlery industry is located in Solingen. The name of the city was protected by law 1938. This makes Solingen the first city in the world to protect its name and products.

Photo from https://mapio.net/pic/p-20271125/

The Graf-Wilhelm-Platz bus transport centre serves 6 trolleybus and 16 standard bus routes, with a good number of these routes overlapping into neighbouring cities, making it very easy to get to. It provides the heartbeat for the centre of Solingen.The traffic passing through the transport centre is on a double road, similar to a train station (but it works without the tracks and synchronized switch points). There is a three-leg roundabout at the southern end, with one leg being a double road, with a cross-over where it connects with the roundabout. Basically this creates an unusual entry/exit to the roundabout, which works. At the Northern end again there is also a cross-over, plus three pedestrian crossings (see drawing below). The magic here is that there are so many conflict points along these bus stop areas/routes, but humans driving and walking in this area can and do adapt to this example of ‘good confusion.’

Now back to the start of this post about this town centre ticking a lot of boxes. Walking through both Alter Markt and Muhlenplatz there were many empty shops. In Muhlenplatz the local art community is trying to full this space with art displays, but it felt like art for the sake of art. Sadly this doesn’t feel like it is revitalising the city centres.

To finish, here is some population data on Solingen. In 2012 the city had 158,908 residents (down from 177,899 in 1971)  and a population density of about 1,800 people per km2. Looking at the local population density near the city centre, in 2015 the Solingen-Mitte district had 41,836 residents in an area of 12.51 km2, giving a density of 3,344 people per km2. This is similar to a number of places in Hamilton, when looking at census unit area data (see link).

I only visited this city for a few hours; the Hofgarten mall and transport area was nice and busy, but my visit was too short to understand why other parts of the city were under-performing (Note: rain and cold is normal and does not change the feel of city centres).

 

The problem in Solingen looks short term, most German cities work really well and Solingen should also. This link is good example of what the future looks like for Solingen. Solingen, the City of Blades – Business location for your future