Creative Quarters Cities Discover New Development

Metropolises are coming up against competitive pressure in these times of advancing globalisation. Above all, those cities perceived as being creative have the advantage here. With the development of new creative quarters, cities assure themselves crucial impulses for their future viability.

Future Creative Quarter Munich, Jutier- and Tonnenhalle Future Creative Quarter Munich, Jutier- and Tonnenhalle | Photo: Markus Lanz Cities are placing the promotion of culture and the creative industries in the centre of their urban planning concepts. Today, they expect that vibrantly creative milieus contribute decisively to a city’s attractiveness and success. This is nothing new. Artists and cultural producers have always had a lasting influence on urban living spaces. What is new, however, is the fact that creative actors are also being discovered in terms of their economic potential for urban development. This is no accident. In this way, the cultural and creative industry has established itself as one of the most important sectors of the German economy. This industry is diverse. It is made up not only of artists, cultural producers and gallery owners, but also of firms from the areas of architecture, film, music, advertising and publishing. Cities are called upon to develop new ideas and strategies for spaces that enable the emergence of creative milieus.

Open spaces

Oberhafen Hamburg, arial view of the quarter at Lohsepark Oberhafen Hamburg, arial view of the quarter at Lohsepark | Photo: Elbe&Flut, Source: HafenCity Hamburg Gmbh A study by the City of Hamburg on this issue reveals that creative milieus arise where very diverse neighbourhoods and different utilisations intersect with each other. In addition, one essential factor is the availability and open utilisation options of spaces. This explains why actors from the creative industries have rented offices and halls in Hamburg’s Oberhafen neighbourhood. “For outsiders, the location here has something thrillingly disreputable about it,” as one of the pioneers describes it. Here, he finds “a straight-forward surface that can be used for anything.” Large parts of the area will still be in commercial use until 2015, at which point the city will develop the approx. 6.7 hectare area as a quarter for long-term utilisation by the cultural and creative industries. New strategies are being tested in an open planning process.

Creative Quarter Munich

Future Creative Quarter Munich, Tonnenhalle Future Creative Quarter Munich, Tonnenhalle | Photo: Milan Chakrabarti, Chair in town planning and regional planning, Technical University Munich In Munich, vacant industrial sites and available spaces are rarities. Munich was declared an art metropolis already in the 19th century. Due to the city’s enormous growth, the demand for residential and commercial space on the few remaining urban surfaces is very great. Affordable surfaces for artists and cultural producers are scarce.

Munich is now developing a creative quarter, not only to maintain itself as a city of the arts, but also to reformulate itself as a creative city. This quarter will offer the free scene of contemporary art and actors in the creative industry space for development, production and presentation. A suitable piece of land for the purpose was found in a former military and industrial area. The 20 hectare area is located in the middle of the city. A lively residential area, the Olympia Park, the Munich University of Applied Sciences and the Goethe-Institut are located in the immediate vicinity. Buildings on this piece of land have long been enlivened through interim use by artists. 

A mixture of utilisations

Three city departments that also represent various interest groups are involved in the project’s planning. The city development sees its priority task in the creation of at least 900 apartments close to the city centre. Creative utilisation in the two landmark industrial buildings Jutierhalle and Tonnenhalle will represent the core of the area’s overall planning. “Here, we have the opportunity to try out new forms of urban planning, where creative work, culture and residency can be brought together under the concept of living - an opportunity to shape urban life,” thus Georg Küppers, spokesman for Munich’s office of cultural affairs. A mixture of diverse utilisations improves the quality of life in a city quarter. Here, the creative sector sets impulses that cannot emerge from other utilisations: the representatives of the various interest groups agree on this point. The planning is in full swing. An urban design contest has been announced. With initial events, the Office of Cultural Affairs has set an open process of development in motion that includes local actors and actively seeks impulses from examples of successful creative quarters in other cities.

Spaces with character in other cities

Baumwollspinnerei Leipzig, historical view 1909 Baumwollspinnerei Leipzig, historical view 1909 | Photo: print of the Eckert&Plug Kunstanstalt, Spinnereiarchiv These examples demonstrate that, in addition to the openness of the spaces, their architectural quality and palpable character are of primary importance to the success of creative quarters. The creative quarter of the Baumwollspinnerei (i.e. cotton-spinning mill) district of Leipzig, in its unique architectural ensemble of the former factory city, has emerged as an internationally recognised centre of art production, drawing 100,000 culturally interested tourists annually. Here is where the concept of the School of Leipzig developed, whose artists enjoy high international recognition. This interest in turn draws other actors to the city. They create a special milieu. “Artists tease out the spirit of a place, and in doing so give it its character,” as Bertram Schulze, business director of the management company. He is already busy with a new creative quarter on the former AEG grounds in Nuremberg. The architecturally significant renovation of the Dortmunder Union Brewery into the art and media centre “Dortmunder U,” and the award-winning white concrete cube by the Japanese architecture firm SANAA in Essen are visible indications of the profound transformation of the Ruhr region into a “creative” region.

Centre of Art and Creativity Dortmunder U, southwest view Centre of Art and Creativity Dortmunder U, southwest view | Photo: Hans Jürgen Landes; design: labor b designbüro In the future, the drawing-power of a city will be measured by its creative milieus. The development of creative quarters alone is not sufficient for them to come to life. But they can provide appropriate impulses and offer urban planning the opportunity to experiment with new strategies and concepts for the development of vibrant quarters.