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 its 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 into 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 rose along the river Aa, characterized by shed roofs, brick walls, high chimneys and relicts of machines. Brown brick fronts, 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.

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 transforming former backsides towards lively fronts through big squares that can be used for events in public space.

Finally the gradual transformation of the built area is guided by the addition of a new program and shaped by the 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 widened 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 and in addition stimulates a more diverse perception of the water.

New paths are created 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: ongoing
  • Client: Stadt Bocholt
  • Area: 35 ha
  • Partners: SeARCH

1955 - A bustling industrial side

Existing historical grid as abstract framework for transformation

Respecting the traces

Unraveling the genius loci

reusing parts of old buildings for residential functions

a park at the water

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

new connections - connecting city, neighbourhood and region

new interpretations of old atmospheres

Cleaning the water with natural vegetation

Bocholt Kubaai

improving accessibility, usability and ecological value of the water

new cycle paths reinforce the cycling infrastructure