Eight park managers from different cities around Moscow joined me on a trip to see some parks. We decided to go to the Ruhr area first. The fragmented landscape out there gives some interesting observations and comparisons with the landscape of the region around Moscow. That is what struck me some months ago when I was invited by Moscow Region commissioner Igor Chaika to visit some of their parks and discuss the observations with the park managers of the Moscow Province.
These bigger and smaller cities, connected by railway lines, motorways and canals, fragmented, an airport around the corner, over there an industrial estate, large pieces of wood.
So we decided to see the parks in the Ruhr area first. After that we needed some real beauty and some new inner city investments. That could be found in Antwerp and Brussels in Belgium. And of course at the end of that short week I wanted them to see Westergasfabriek park in Amsterdam.
During the first days we went to Essen, Bochum, Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg: a bus with the park managers, a small staff, a translator and a television crew. The colleagues in Germany where ready to show us around in a strict scheme of four or five parks per day.
It’s amazing to see what has been done during the last twenty years to make this fragmented industrialized landscape more accessible, more ecological proof and more attractive. There are some really beautiful parks to be seen. The mix of industrial buildings and the huge green spaces gives a very nice atmosphere. But over and over one wonders where are the people. And I think we have to accept that most of the investments in the Ruhr landscape are focused on the long term. To make the area more attractive and get the companies and the people back in the long run.
Which is the biggest difference with the parks in the Moscow region: if there is one thing in that area where they do not have a shortage on its people.
Parks like Duisburg Nord, Westpark in Bochum and Nordstern in Gelsenkirchen: they are all well used and offer great opportunities for people to recreate. But it’s two things that make them really work: connections and program.
If the parks are well connected and there is something going on inside the buildings, that are in the park or around the park, there is much more activity. This sounds only logical but it is great to see.