Sunday, October 7, 2007

"The Mega Multi Maxi Park"

… is what the Duisburg-Nord Country Park in Germany calls itself - and mega, multi and maxi it is! But this is not the usual amusement park you'll find everywhere - this is a truly unique site that combines family fun with industrial history, cultural events and lots of nature at a place where you wouldn't expect it - at an old steel plant.

Between 1901 and 1985 this steel plant in the north of Duisburg - part of the old industrial Ruhr region - operated up to five large blast furnaces. Six years after its closure a competition was held to convert the old steel mill to a public park; the concept of landscape architect Peter Latz won, and the result is quite fascinating: he turned the industrial site into a center of memory and culture, by allowing some old structures and buildings to remain, and by converting some others to new uses: a large gasholder became Europe's largest indoor diving pool; two halls now house theatrical productions, exhibitions and other events; the ore bunkers were partly converted to a multifaceted climbing site. But the stars of the park are the large blast furnaces. You can actually visit and climb on furnace #5 - up to its top, seventy meters high. And what a view you have from it!

View from blast furnace #5 of Duisburg-Nord Country Park - click here for a large size version

But not only these true monuments of old industrial culture and the new use of some of them are awe-inspiring - how nature and plants are allowed to take over other parts of the site is equally impressive. This is demonstrated especially, but not only by the ore bunkers: while some of them now serve - as mentioned - as a climbing site, most of them were left alone, and nowadays small primeval forests grow in them. This not only looks nice, but in fact is an active part in reducing toxic substances that have soiled the surroundings of the steel mill in the years of its active operation. There even is a word for this cleansing process, it's called "phytoremediation".

Here now pictures showing some of the sights offered by the Duisburg-Nord Country Park - a park visited by around 500.000 people each year. Incidentally none of them has to pay a single cent for it, the entrance is free.

First a look at the diving hall in the former gasholder - this diving site holds 21.000.000 liters of water, and the first flooding of the gasholder took five days. On its ground the divers find pipe systems to explore, also old wrecks - ships, a car, even a small plane:

Click here for a larger version

Now a look at the blast furnaces #1 and #2 - on the left the ore bunkers with the plants growing out of them:

Click here for a large version

A panoramic and because of that curved look at the large crane used to transport the ore from the bunkers to the furnaces - easy to see how nature already dominates the industrial site here. The crane is nicknamed "The Green Crocodile", because it's illuminated by green lights at some nights:

Click here for a really large version of this panorama

And here a look up the real star of the park, the blast furnace #5 - you can climb it up to its top. This picture is taken among the middle of the furnace, revealing some of the intricate pipe structures of this gigantic edifice:

Click here for a larger version

More images from the park you'll find in my gallery. And lots of information about it here, at its official site.


roentarre said...

Amazing use of fish eye lens!! This park looks so interesting and fun through your photography!

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Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!