Kulturquartier Bocholter Aa

Kubaai Bocholt urban transformation

In between the city center of Bocholt and the recreational Aa lake lies a forgotten industrial terrain. Despite it’s central location this area has nearly disappeared from the collective memory of the locals. Behind the brick walls one can discover hidden treasures: the river landscape of the Aa, immense industrial halls and a modern textile museum. With these ingredients Bureau B+B and SeARCH developed an urban plan to transform the area towards a lively cultural- and residential area.

Industrial Heritage
Bocholt is an old textile town. For more than two centuries the local industry produced the world famous blue and red checked tea towels. A small scale industrial landscape arose along the river Aa, characterized by shed roofs, brick walls, high chimneys and relicts of machines. Brown brick frontsw, dark roof tiles, red paths, a russet train bridge and the verdigris covered reinforced steel banks form today’s identity of hidden places. Green hedges and the leaves of overhanging shore trees frame the space of the hidden riverside.
These atmospheres form the base for the transformation of the area: the scale of the buildings and the open space, the appearance of the architecture and the vegetation.

Activation
To bring the area back into collective memory existing buildings are being opened for temporary events and uses: a secret garden, a skate café, little markets, concerts and cinemas etc. People are invited and seduced to explore the area. Existing cultural institutes are expanding and transform former backsides towards lively fronts through big squares that can be used for events in public space.

Transformation
Finally the gradual transformation of the built area is guided by the addition of new programme and shaped by public space. Many walls of former halls and few relics of chimneys and machines are kept in order to form a framework for the new development of houses, cultural institutes and gastronomy. Simple rules guide the phased building process and create coherence within the new architecture in order to keep and renew existing atmospheres of hidden treasures and traces of the past.

Ecology and Water
The core of the plan is the Bocholter Aa. The river connects the city centre to the outer landscape. The Bocholter Aa is widend to buffer more water with peak rains. The plan enhances the quality of the water through natural vegetation. The vegetation gives a richer flora and fauna but also a more divers perception of the water.

Connection
New paths are made along the river Aa to connect the inner city with the recreational areas on the fringes. Two new bridges and the transformation of an old train bridge connect the north with the south shore of the river. The banks of the Aa are revived through new public spaces like a park, a jetty path and a big public flight of stairs.

  • Location: Industriestraße, Bocholt, Duitsland
  • Under construction: 2014 - 2017
  • Client: Stadt Bocholt
  • Area: 35 ha
  • Partners: SeARCH

1955 - A bustling industrial side

2015 - A forgotten industrial heritage

Respecting the traces

Unraveling the genius loci

Existing historical grid as abstract framework for transformation

a park at the water

new connections and destinations

culture as instrument for place making

transforming old halls into walled courtyards with a hard perimeter

transforming halls into green islands with a soft perimeter

reusing parts of old buildings for residential functions

new interpretations of old atmospheres

linking neighbourhoods

new connections - connecting city, neighbourhood and region

Cleaning the water with natural vegetation

Bocholt Kubaai

new bridges make new connections within the citynetwork

designing new wateredges

transforming backsides to frontsides

Bocholt Kubaai

improving accessibility, usability and ecological value of the water

new cycle paths reinforce the cycling infrastructure