Newsletter  sub>urban. Reinventing the fringe | Düsseldorf experiments with test lab for integrated neighbourhood development

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Düsseldorf experiments with test lab for integrated neighbourhood development

Action Planning in Real Time - by Düsseldorf

Our network - sub>urban. Reinventing the fringe - is at full speed. All of the network partners are getting in touch with their local stakeholders while taking a closer look at their Local Action Plans. We asked Düsseldorf to share some insight in their approach. Enjoy reading.

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Düsseldorf, Garath, Field Trip in November 2016 with the Ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia (MBWSV NRW)

Düsseldorf’s Local Action Group (LAG) is working intensively on the citywide integrated neighbourhood development concept. The LAG’s steering committee consists of the heads of departments and politicians and meets regularly. All political fractions of the City Council are invited to participate. The LAG succeeded in establishing an open-minded discussion in a trusting atmosphere. In the next months the LAG will expand. We will include experts and the interested public into the process. New methods, like the cross-sectoral collaboration, will lead to new questions which we would like to discuss with you at our next meeting in Oslo.

Garath 2.0 is Düsseldorf’s test lab for integrated neighbourhood development. After one year of a tailored participation process the City Council agreed on the concept ‘Garath 2.0 – mapping the change’. We also applied for the Urban Development Promotion Program ‘Social City’ supported by the Ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia (MBWSV NRW). At the moment we are preparing the necessary Integrated Action Plan. If our application is accepted, the district of Garath will be subsidized proportionately by the federal state, the state of NRW and the City of Düsseldorf in a first phase till 2022. The community-oriented concentration of resources and the multidisciplinary collaboration are indispensable.

Our action fields will focus on the neighbourhood centers, that is the center for 'local amenities', 'housing', 'the future of public space', 'education and employment' and 'culture and leisure'. With a big emphasis on the support of neighbourhoods. At the transnational workshop in Casoria some network partners showed interest in Germany’s Social City Program. We would be glad to tell you more about it at the transnational meeting in Düsseldorf next October.

More information: get in touch with


What are the boundaries of the fringe?

Baia Mare interviews Casoria in our 'The Curious Neighbour section'

One of the most difficult parts of the network topic is defining the fringe area. Where does it start and stop? What are the criteria to define a boundary? And are they the same for different target groups like a government, the citizens, et cetera. In Baia Mare it is important to transform the boundaries as connecting areas between neighbourhoods.

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What are the boundaries of a fringe area?


A fringe area is the part of an urban region where built and unbuilt patterns interweave. It has neither the features of an urban compact city nor the ones of the suburban village. Its features, often unprecedented, are in turn defined as: peri-urban area, urban sprawl, dispersed urban development, wide-spread city (città diffusa), territories in-between, etc.

From a quantitative point of view, fringe areas can be recognized by ways of several indicators: some depending on physical features (number of buildings and surface they cover, built-up volume, parcel fragmentation, etc); other ones deriving from the way in which target areas are used (inhabitants, workers, infrastructures and their uses).

The landscape-reading shows territories characterized by high fragmentation, lack of urban and ecologic continuity, hybrid (not-rural, nor-urban) condition and dispersion of sense of places caused by continous overlapping of sectorial elements and flows. That is a non–isotropic spatial structure. It is determined by iterations, rips, spatial accumulations of scattered uses and buildings.
From a bird's-eye view the boundaries delineating the end of the city region and the internal difference between compact neighbourhoods and fringe areas are normally highly confused.

The morphology of fringe-settlements is characterized by spatial-fragmentation and poor quality of public space, particularly open ones. The boundaries between the private parcels and the public realm are rather strong: fences and walls are key-elements of these settlements. Moreover, fringe area is often car-based, a place in which people rarely meet in the streets. Shopping malls, pubs, discos and restaurants are a different kind of common spaces where people meet in the fringe. Functional and social integration, density of people and wide possibility of their meetings in real public spaces, are traditional values of urban realm (in other words: traditional values of European cities); these values are not so strong in the fringes of our contemporary cities.

By Enrico Formato (Casoria, Italy)


sub>urban in 2017
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Our best whishes for 2017! Sub>urban has picked up where we left off in 2016, organizing the next transnational meeting in Oslo and preparing meaningful partnerships in sharing knowledge and experiences. All of our partner cities are fully dedicated in developing their local action plans and experimenting with new methodologies. 

We like to take the opportunity to give some insight in the upcoming events. 

  • February 1-3: Transnational meeting in Oslo on Transforming to Intensify Use. 
  • June 12-14: Midterm Review sub>urban and Final Conference Eurocities 'Edge of Center Transformation' project
  • October 9-11: Transnational meeting in Düsseldorf on Transforming for Social Inclusion

More on Transforming to Intensify Use at next weeks meeting in Oslo:

The central topic of this meeting is Transforming for Intensified Use. Which deals essentialy with the densities in the 20th-century urban fringe. There is much oversized public space, as well as many single-storey buildings, large parking lots, and vacant buildings and land. From this perspective, it is obvious that these urban areas can be used more intesively. Instead of constructing new urban areas on greenfields outside the city, transforming the urban fringe would make better use of and further improve upon existing urban structures. Intensifying the use of public space, vacant and underused buildings and land. This is an important challenge in achieving compact cities. Housing and amenities can be added and improved in the urban fringe instead of being created anew in the suburbs. 

Curious about the programme? Click here