Münster Model Neighborhoods

Green-Blue Infrastructure, Gifts, Respect

A Bicycle Tour through Münster with Mark van der Woude.

In 2004, Münster took first place at the LivCom-Awards in Niagara, Canada, winning the gold for most livable cities with a population of 200,000 to 750,000. That was some time ago, but the city’s not resting on its laurels. In the strategic “further development of Münster’s urban landscape” as described on the city’s dedicated website, the aim is “to further develop existing qualities and strengthen and expand networks within Münster‘s urban landscape.”

Since early 2022, LAND has been working on these new model neighborhoods, MMQ 1+2 on Steinfurter-Straße and Busso-Peus-Straße, and MMQ 3|4|5 in the Stadthäfen area. But it’s not the first time that LAND has worked in Münster: it was there in 2013 for the 2013/2014 urban planning/open space planning competition for the York barracks and in 2019 for the “International Ideas Workshop on Urban Knowledge Quarters” regarding the future of the Science City.

What pleases Mark van der Woude most about the Münster project and the model neighborhoods? “It’s a great example of the motto ‘Landscape first,’ that is we create a park and then we’ll see what kind of construction works with that.

LAND’s engagement in the new model neighborhoods is thus a continuation of this earlier history. “We’re just getting started, we’ll do a lot more in the years to come,” explains architect Mark van der Woude during a bicycle tour of the city, from Kinderbachtal to the Stadthäfen district.

The time factor is an important issue for the LAND team, led by Andreas Kipar with Mark van der Woude, Susanne Gombert, Kornelia Steigenberger, Elif Özkan and Sebastian Schmitz-Grochowski. “You need time to grasp the existing situation and understand what it has to offer. We’ve been invited into Münster‘s house and garden and we’re supposed to do something there. Respect is certainly the key word,” says Mark van der Woude regarding work in the beautiful Westphalian city.

That’s the difference between various city regeneration programs, where you do deal with existing structures, but nobody actually lives there, and a vital city like Münster, which already has a lot of good things and a functioning urban fabric that deserves to be preserved.

In Münster, LAND has created the parameters for a 15-minute city with green-blue infrastructure, emphasizing the different gifts of the established areas, where construction is expected to begin in 2027

That’s why it’s so important to engage with the people who are affected. Mark van der Woude is hopeful that citizen participation will truly be taken seriously, although the extent to which this is actually implemented will take a few years to emerge. It was the city of Münster, represented by the city’s municipal planning and building officer Robin Denstorff, who initiated the workshop procedure with the planning team from the “Faltin+Sattler” office. It involves an informal urban planning instrument whose approach is to lay a foundation for subsequent urban planning competitions that is in harmony with everyone, with plans that are more concrete. It makes Münster’s position loud and clear: “Dear citizens, trust us, we want to do this with you.” In other words, it‘s initiated a bottom-up process and has not simply given developers free rein, as has often happened in the past.

The five model neighborhoods involve some big numbers, as the more rural MMQ 1+2 neighborhoods at the city’s gateway, on land now used for agriculture, are alone expected to provide housing for 5,000-6,500 new residents and create up to 4,700 jobs.

The urban nature of MMQ 3|4|5, which have suffered from noise and emissions during their urban development, will result in more mixed use due to the limited possibility of residential construction. In these three neighborhoods, water plays a more prominent role. Thus, the Dortmund-Ems Canal will be expanded, Stadthafen 2 revitalized, and the banks “softened.” The existence of suspected contaminated sites requires careful water management during heavy rains.

In Münster, LAND has created the parameters for a 15-minute city with green-blue infrastructure, emphasizing the different gifts of the established areas, where construction is expected to begin in 2027.  As the process continues, implementation will be overseen by a landscape architect, who has yet to be selected.

What pleases Mark van der Woude most about the Münster project and the model neighborhoods? “It’s a great example of the motto ‘Landscape first,’ that is we create a park and then we’ll see what kind of construction works with that. We and the other players look at it from the outside and can project our visions, so it’s not a top-down approach. Instead, we really work collaboratively.”

Text: Christiane Bürklein

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