Qualifying the "Industrial Cultural Landscape Ruhr Region" as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a key objective of the Foundation for the Preservation of Industrial Monuments and Historical Culture. Together with its partners, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Regional Association Ruhr (Regionalverband Ruhr), the Rhineland Regional Council (Landschaftsverband Rheinland), Westphalia Regional Council (Landschaftsverband Westfalen), the cooperative association Emschergenossenschaft and external consultant Barry Gamble (UK), it has developed a proposal for inclusion of the Industrial Cultural Landscape Ruhr Region in the proposal list for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
In the OUV’s draft, one essential feature that is initially underscored is the strong influence of the Ruhr region landscape by large-scale heavy industry in the period between the 1850s and 1950s. In the 1870s, the Ruhr region transformed itself into the biggest region for the mining of hard coal and production of coke on the European continent. Around 1900, the region was the largest steel producer in Europe. Furthermore, the region boasted the densest industrial transport network in Europe in those days and had one of the world’s largest developments of industry-related residential areas.
A further characteristic is seen in the tight interconnection of the key industrial sectors comprised of coal, iron and steel, which is clearly visible in the corporate structures just as well as in the physical interlinking of production stages.
In addition, the draft highlights a radical reshaping of the landscape of extraordinary dimensions as a hallmark for the Ruhr region, with structures made by human hands or caused by them, such as the spoil tips (slagheaps) and soil subsidences (Polder). Emscher’s wastewater management system is also regarded as one-of-a-kind and seen as proof of an "early, far-sighted ecological action in an industrial landscape context."
Lastly, the draft for the OUV of the Industrial Cultural Landscape Ruhr Region puts core focus on the industrial culture that emerged from production and living conditions in the coal and steel industry that has shaped regional awareness, creates a sense of identity right up until today and – is continually and sustainably managed – all of this stands for a key feature of the region. Against this backdrop, the Ruhr region is highlighted as Europe’s paradigm for the large-scale heritage of the coal and steel industry.
The date when the conference of ministers of education and cultural affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany will review the proposal for the "Industrial Cultural Landscape Ruhr Region" with regard to updating the German tentative list of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites is still not known – it will tentatively be between 2020 - 2022.
in collaboration with:
· the Ministry for Homeland, Communal, Construction and Equal Opportunities Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (Ministerium für Heimat, Kommunales, Bau und Gleichstellung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen)
· the Regional Association Ruhr·(Regionalverband Ruhr) (RVR)
· the Rhineland Regional Council·(Landschaftsverband Rheinland) (LVR)
· the Westphalia-Lippe Regional Council (Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe) (LWL)
· the Emscher Cooperative Association·(Emschergenossenschaft) (EG)
Dr. Marita Pfeiffer