The new town of Wulfen

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Banderole um Buch und Gesamtaufbauplan: Architektur Wettbewerbe 2. Sonderheft Wulfen - Planung Neue Stadt Wulfen 1965
Karte der britischen New Towns. Ganz im Süden : Crawley, Partnerstadt von Dorsten
Ausschnitt aus engl. Faltprospekt der EW, 1975

2020 Icons at Risk : Habiflex

About the Apartment Complex
Habiflex, built in 1974, was one of three experimental projects built in the planned ‘New Town of Wulfen’ as a model for a new form of housing supported by the federal government. ‘New Town Wulfen’ was a city built in the 1960’s with a new urban plan that was to include high quality living space and infrastructure for the expected 50,000 residents migrating to take part in the mining industry. However, the desired population never materialized because the mining activities were not very successful. Structural problems and owner neglect led to its eventual abandonment and current precarious state.

The Habiflex structure consisted of 40 condominiums grouped around an open courtyard. Among other things, residents changed the apartment floor plans by adding movable walls. The Habiflex concept was considered innovative and was celebrated by Spiegel in 1975 as an example of future-oriented residential construction and was awarded a prize in the federal competition ‘Flexible Floor Plans’. However, the design promised more than reality.

Because it was precisely the flexibility that resulted in structural and physical defects. The construction was quickly neglected. Vacancy followed. After a bulky waste fire, fire protection was checked for the first time in 2007 and it was virtually non-existent. Since then, the house has officially been considered uninhabitable and is gradually falling into disrepair. In 2008 the last residents moved out and nature is now taking back the building.

The city of Wulfen even wanted to put the building under monument protection in 2000. But this proposal did not find a majority in the Council. The property often changed hands. While part of the apartments was modernized, another part continued to deteriorate. A buyer who bought the Habiflex at a foreclosure auction in the early 2000s had the property converted into condominiums and then offered them as an investment for around 145,000 euros.

According to Immobilien-Zeitung, not even half of the 40 apartments were sold and occupied by 2007. The last time the Habiflex appeared at Immobilienscout24 according to the report was in March 2016. At a ridiculous price of 1 euro. Further information is also available under Wulfen-Wiki (German).

Architectural Highlights
The ‘flex’ syllable in its name alludes to the flexibility of the living spaces. The total space of each of the 40 housing units in the building could be divided to suit the needs of residents by sliding walls that change the floor plans and the Gelsenkirchen balcony that could be turned into a conservatory by folding the exterior walls. The building is made of concrete and glass and the units are grouped around an open courtyard. The variation in surface textures and irregular facade of the building give it a stronger identity, rare in conventional high-rise apartment buildings.

Designed as an experimental apartment complex with dynamic floor plans, the building ultimately failed in its execution. Insufficient insulation, problems with humidity and years of mismanagement led to today's dilapidated state. Unfortunately, the flexible components led to structural defects, and insufficient insulation, problems with humidity and mismanagement by its owners led to its damaged state. It was declared uninhabitable and it’s been empty since 2008. In 2009 it had to be walled up following security concerns. The current owners can’t finance refurbishment or demolition, so there is a call for investors to submit ideas for either renovation or demolition and new construction. It is unknown whether an investor has been found.

2020 A classic New Town ...

A classic New Town on the northern brink of the Ruhr area: Neue Stadt Wulfen was planned as a home for 50.000 people, miners and their families. Starting point was the opening of new mines in the region from the 50s onwards, once the mines on the Ruhr were exhausted and closed. Neue Stadt Wulfen features some classic 70s developments including separation of road infrastructure for cars, bikes and pedestrians, but also a handful of highly innovative buildings such as Habiflex with movable walls for flexible use of the living space. Today, only ¼ of the planned number of inhabitants lives in Wulfen New Town – a relaxed, but also slightly eerie place. Imagine: no car park shortage! Cordula Schulze 2020

2018 New Town of Wulfen

The New Town of Wulfen was planned and built in the 1960s as a model city for 50,000 inhabitants in the rural North of the Ruhr area. A city with high-quality living space and an ultra-modern infrastructure was to be built for miners and their families.

During more than twenty years, all kinds of facilities were built: schools, churches, commercial real estate, administrative and cultural buildings. The residential buildings in particular make Wulfen an architecturally outstanding place. A wide range of different designs was realised here, from prefabricated bungalow houses to modular multi-storey residential buildings. Some of the functional and constructive experiments failed, such as the "Metastadt", which was demolished in 1987, only 12 years after its construction. But there are also successful stories, such as those of „Finnstadt“, an ensemble of five-storey houses, which are still popular residential areas due to their individual floor plans and large terraces.

The target number of inhabitants was never reached. Nowadays around 10,000 people are living in Wulfen.

Quelle: (StadtBauKultur NRW 2018)


The Habiflex is an experimental residential building in the New Town of Wulfen in the Dorsten district of Barkenberg. The design by Richard Gottlob and Horst Klement was awarded in 1971 in the nationwide housing competition "Flexible Wohngrundrisse“ (flexible housing floor plans). The realisation was supported with federal funds.

Completed in 1975, the building consists of 40 condominiums grouped around an open courtyard. The test construction allowed the users to change the floor plans of the apartments by means of sliding walls. One innovation was the so-called Gelsenkirchener Balkon, an balcony which could be transformed into a conservatory by folding out the outer walls. It was precisely these flexible building elements, however, that led to structural design and building physics deficiencies. The building fabric was also neglected by the owners at an early stage. This resulted in increasing vacancies.

After a bulky waste fire, the fire safety of the building was tested for the first time in 2007. Since then, the house has been considered uninhabitable and is gradually decaying. The demolition seems to be unavoidable.



The so-called „Rote Finnstadt“ is one of the successful examples of modern housing construction in the New Town of Wulfen. In addition to Habiflex and Metastadt, it is one of the demonstrative experimental and comparative buildings, which were built as models for new forms of housing with the support of the federal and state governments.

This type of house was developed in 1969 in a housing construction report. Originally, the Finnstadt was designed by the Finnish architects Toivo Korhonen and Lauri Sorainen as an assembly structure. However, it was then built using conventional construction methods.

These are five-storey, cross-shaped terrace houses that could be joined together in a net-like structure as desired. In the first step, four houses were built on Surick street, which are called the Rote Finnstadt because of their red plaster facades. They were followed by two other houses with black slate cladding, the „Schwarze Finnstadt“ on Dimker Allee. They offer a wide variety of different types of apartments with areas between 61 and 125 square metres, some of them as maisonettes. The individual character and the large, private terraces of the condominiums should offer an alternative to the classic single-family house. This intention was also supported by a special financing model.


2018 Goodbye Utopia - Back to the city of the future

The "New City of Wulfen" is considered an exemplary and controversially discussed prime example of a planned city from the 1960s. In addition to futuristic urban planning with a strict separation of streets and pedestrian areas, the experimental buildings Finnstadt, Metastadt and Habiflex, supported by the federal government, were important contributions to the discourse on new forms of housing and building typologies of the time. The young and very changeable history of the "New Town of Wulfen" (today "Wulfen-Barkenberg") is also reflected in the development of these pioneering projects: While the Finnish city is a success story, the metropolis was demolished only 12 years after completion due to structural defects. Declared uninhabitable, the Habiflex has stood empty for years and has an uncertain future.

In the context of the current debate about affordable housing, new forms of housing and serial construction, a re-submission, reclassification and visualisation of this city seems sensible, if not even overdue. On a large lawn on Dimker Allee, the former site of the Marschall construction group within sight of Finnstadt and Habiflex, the building will serve for a week as a temporary venue, meeting place and starting point for expeditions to the old "New Town of Wulfen". The pavilion contains a sound installation by Lisa Danulat and Michael Graessner, which collages fragments of the history of the city's origins.


2013 Metropolis Ruhr

A regional study of the new Ruhr. Essen: KVR, 2013. S.27

In that period of a nearly unlimited economic prosperity the idea of “urbanity by density” was another guiding principle of urban development. In all cities of the Ruhr new large housing quarters, some with several thousand units, were erected and emphasized the new idea of urbanity by their mere dense compactness. Because these large housing quarters have mostly been erected outside the existing urban patterns they initiated an outward growing of the cities by suburbanization. In the vicinity of the village Wulfen- Barkenberg (near Dorsten) where a new coal mine was to be deepened even a new town for 50,000 inhabitants was planned and housing quarters for some 15,000 inhabitants were built there in the 1960s and 1970s. Influenced by the architectural design of the British New Towns, the “Neue Stadt Wulfen” became an architectural laboratory in which many concepts of condensed housing were tested (e.g. Finnstadt, Metastadt, Habiflex); only few of them have been successful, most of them could not keep the promises and ended in dismantling or redevelopment projects.

Foto 2.4.3 "The Metacity with flexible inner walls in the New Town Wulfen near Dorsten"


2010 Shrinking City

The phenomenon of a "shrinking city" takes on a unique meaning in the Wulfen-Barkenberg district of Dorsten. Conceived as a pioneering example of urban planning, "Neue Stadt Wulfen", situated in the north of the Ruhr region, once heralded a bright new future. Today, however, the locality is still engaged in a massive struggle to overcome the challenges presented by visions gone wrong and the negative repercussions of industrial change.

Originally designed for 50,000 people, the area has had to contend with emigration, demographic change, social tensions, poverty, violence and the demolition of empty housing blocks. Now, the town of Dorsten is rebuilding the entire area.

This plan of action was the outcome of a remarkable course of events - with dramatic consequences. The first shafts of the Wulfen pit were sunk in 1958 as coal mining moved northwards. Housing for the anticipated workforce of 8,000 had to be provided within a short space of time. Not wanting to replicate earlier models of colliery settlements, the urban planners adopted a new, progressive approach. An urban development competition was announced in 1961. It called for bids outlining the construction of dwellings for up to 50,000 people plus and the infrastructure of an entire town including a town hall, hospital, department store and bus station. However, the mine was not successful and only 450 new jobs were created. The ambitious plans had to be scaled down. After just 12 years of use, the meta-town, an experimental complex of buildings made from prefabricated steel sections and comprising around 100 dwelling units and 600 square metres of commercial floor space, was razed in 1987 due to the discovery of structural defects.

Today Barkenberg is home to just under 10,000 people. As a response to the problem of so many vacant buildings, a programme known as "Stadtumbau West" has been put into action. Started in 2007 and continuing until 2011, it includes measures such as the demolition of part of the "Marschall" complex, the reduction of some higher buildings to four storeys, plus a raft of other modernisation schemes. However, urban planning measures and structural modifications are not enough: there is also an urgent need to find forward-looking solutions to challenging social, socio-political and health-related issues.

What role can the residents and their clubs, associations and institutions play in fashioning change? What is their outlook - and that of the children and young people in particular - beyond the image of the "shrinking city" and the common fate that this holds in store? Pursued in cooperation with as many local people as possible, the goal of this project is to develop new approaches and identify how the residents can play an active part. And to answer the question as to how their own involvement can make change socially inclusive and sustainable.

Quelle : (nicht mehr online)

2009 The Urban Matrix

Karsten Ley: The Urban Matrix - Towards a Theory on the Parameters of Urban Form and their Interrelation. Dissertation Aachen 2009. Fußnote auf S.47

In this context we should remember successful as well as abortive developments of New Towns in Europe, such as for example:
Neue Stadt Wulfen, a new urban development close by the extant city of Dorsten in North Rhine- Westphalia planned for some 50.000 people on well 8 sqkm according to the winning competition project by Fritz E GGELING in 1961. It was meant to accomodate additional population employed in the Ruhr coal mining, while due to the decline of this industry the envisioned volume had to be concurrently minimized and today comprises only 11.000 people. The street layout is composed for traffic-calming purposes; the experimental architectural development of Metastadt from 1973, a prefabricated ferroconcrete construction with 100 apartments, had to be demolished in 1987 because of severe structural admages; (Rühl 1962; Zahn 1965; Auras et al. 1980; Theißen 1989)


2008 History of Dorsten - Station 31: Barkenberg

The idea to build a new town at the northern edge of the Ruhr Area for a large number of miners became actuality. It wasn't just necessary to create living space. Barkenberg is a a synonym fo how a whole town was planned and built. Residential, Transport, Infrastructure: all of the areas were filled with life within just a few years. The marks of quality were area protecting development, architectural diversity, connections between urbanity and closeness to nature, separation of pedestrians and traffic.

Almost 50 years have passed since then. Barkenberg has become a definite home for many people. They have a high quality of life and get involved in a lively community. Structural and residential economic problems, such as uninhabited parts and social pressures, which had arisen in a few of the settlements, have been being dealt with since 2006 within the framework of the national and local town-development programme "Bund-Länder-Programms Stadtumbau West". Hence, Barkenberg has the possibility of dealing with the problems which have arisen alongside the available and established urban development qualities.

Right from the beginning, Barkenberg was being talked about well outside its borders. That has continued right up to nowadays and even more so, due to the present town modifications. The town of Dorsten used this occasion to hold an exhibition, which took place from 10th to 23rd November 2008, about the history and development of the district of Wulfen-Barkenberg. Within this framework, the 31st of Dorsten's History Stations was set up on 23.11.2008, which was the final day of the exhibition and celebratorily officially presented.

(Translator's Note: The source given following the text that I have translated is "Pressetext der Stadt Dorsten / Joachim Thiehoff")

(Textelemente der Geschichtstafel:)

East of the village of Wulfen, the sinking work for the construction of the planned large shaft Wulfen 1/2 begins. A new residential area for more than 50,000 residents is being planned north of the B 58 for the long-term miners (up to 8,000) and their families who will be working here.

The "Development Society Wulfen mbH" takes on the task of creating the "New Town of Wulfen" on a "green field" according to the principles of modern urban planning.

Prof. Fritz Eggeling (Berlin) was awarded the contract for the overall planning of the new city as the winner of a national urban development ideas competition. Car and pedestrian traffic should be separated in it. Furthermore, flexible forms of living, new types of houses and flats with mandatory electric heating and a community antenna system are planned.

Misguided from the field name "Backenberg", which probably goes back to Bockenberg = Buchenberg, from this time the name "Barkenberg" was used for the entire new settlement area. The first apartments are occupied in 1967.

The handover of the new evangelical community center will be followed next year by the inauguration of St. Barbara's Church

Construction work on the “Metastadt” model project begins. This is a building complex made of steel girders with flexible wall structures with several shops and 102 apartments for around 400 residents.

Since the local pit fell well short of the high planning targets, the population target for the "New Town" was also reduced to 20,000. The Bishop of Münster elevated the Catholic parish of St. Barbara to an official and independent parish. By 1983, in the planned center of Barkenberg on Wulfener Markt, the comprehensive school, the community center with a leisure pool, a doctor’s and commercial building (“round building”) and a shopping arcade were built.

This year the new connecting road "Marler Damm" between Barkenberg and Lippramsdorf - Kusenhorst will be released.

Construction errors require demolition of the "Metacity" building.

At the end of the year, the population of Barkenberg reached its highest level at 12,466 people.

The coal mine "Zeche Wulfen", which was at the time the reason for building the "New Town" is closed and the shafts are filled in.

Tower blocks with many stories containinf several hundred individual flats and social establishments (Primary school, Kindergarten) are demolished and rebuilt, within the framework of a publicly supported town development programme, that should continue until 2010; modernisation and restoration measures follow for retaining housing and in the surroundings .

Celebratory Presentation on 23. November 2008


2008 Flexible Housing : Metastadt

As with the Square L-Type system by the architects van den Broek and Bakema, the Metastadt building system was supposed to provide a concept for a flexible model of urbanism. A pilot scheme supported by the Federal Government, the system behind the Metastadt development is that of a space plan that is supposed to be capable of unlimited horizontal and vertical growth. The main structural module is 4.2 by 4.2 metres and 3.6 metres high, with an interior module of 0.6 metres. Main column support is every 16.8 metres, and cantilever spans can measure up to 8.4 metres. Within this frame, enclosure can be created as needed.

The various elements of the system such as the loadbearing structure, non-loadbearing panels and services were kept independent. The space frame structure itself is bolted to allow easy assembly and disassembly - everything remains changeable and adaptable. The infill system is separate from structural system: the office spaces have demountable walls whilst partition walls in apartments are made of plasterboard. The facade panels are based on a small set of interchangeable parts with a vertical and horizontal module of 0.3 metres held in position by 'push buttons'. One further aspect that contributes to the system's flexibility is the servicing system, which is accommodated in raised floors with a clearance of 0.45 metres.

Even the name, Metastadt, hints at the idealism and uncompromising nature of the scheme. In the end, due to technical faults that resulted from cost cutting measures, the building was demolished in the early 1980s.

Quelle: (nicht mehr online) (Anmerkung: Dies war ein nicht-datierter Blogbeitrag, heruntergeladen Januar 2009.)

1983 Residential and Shopping Centre Wulfen

(Their architect Josef Paul Kleihues wrote 1983:)

Between the Ruhr district and the "Hohe Mark" is the New Town of Wulfen. Nestling between fields, woods and meadows. An "open" planned town under the high sky. A town without a centre. According to the programme, this town was than to have certain "qualities" - living and shopping and identity. I know the landscape, its people and theit habits well. Therefore, from the start I had a glass-covered arcade in mind - it rains often in Westphalia. For the same reason, the two-storey colonnades which give access to the apartments, protected from the wind and therefore a goog playground for children. Large terraces facing south-west, so that one may enjoy the few sunny days. And lastly a little folly to look over the landscape. But the "big people" must get first used to the large "toy", the little town within the town. As to the children, they copped and quickly and eagerly grasped the opportunity.
(c) Gandon editions Dublin

( Büchlein ist vorhanden in der Barkenberg-Sammlung in der BiBi am See)

1982 Wulfen : Space flexibility experiments in West German New Town / Joseph G. Hajdu

Artikel in der Zeitschrift Erdkunde - Archiv für wissenschaftliche Geographie 36(1982) Heft1/4 S.167-175. Eine Papierkopie ist in der Barkenberg-Sammlung der BiBi am See vorhanden.

1979 Phases in the Post-War German Urban Experience

In fact the Habitat idea has been the basis of considerable experimentation in West Germany. This is seen in the Metastadt and Habiflex concepts. The Metastadt concept is based on a standardised housing cube 4.20 metres long. These cubes can be bolted together in a variety of ways to suit the building site and the wishes of the residents. With Habiflex even the internal layout can be varied to suit the changing needs of the pectple living in it. The new town of Wulfen being developed at the north western edge of the Ruhr industrial zone has a Metastadt complex, designed to suit the needs of the site and the people for whom it was erected. Wulfen is also an example of a planned community in which the mix of high-rise, low-rise flats and single family homes have been located in relation to the contours of the landscape.20 Each apartment building contains flats of differing sizes and layouts. This has encouraged a wider mix of people to live in each block. Such a mix of people has also been achieved in other cities through the adaptation of the traditional German high gabled roof to the construction of the apartment block. The two long external walls of such a block rise to a ridge line at the top. The higher the storey the smaller the apartments become. Terraces are cut into the sloping roof thus giving maximum privacy. The Germans call such a complex a WohnhiigeU i.e. a residential hill. The idea was first implemented in 1968, in the new town of Marl at the northern edge of the Ruhr region.

Quelle: Phases in the Post-War German Urban Experience / Author: J. G. Hajdu
The Town Planning Review , Jul., 1979, Vol. 50, No. 3 (Jul., 1979), pp. 267-286

1975 Wulfen New Town : Faltprospekt der EW

Außer der hier als Bild wiedergegebenen Wabe enthält der Prospekt noch folgende englischsprachige Informationen :

Wulfen New Town : An example of new forms of living, sponsored by the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of North-Rhine-Westphalia, planned and realised by the Entwicklungsgesellschaft Wulfen mbH (Wulfen Development Association). Planning Group: Fritz Eggeling+ / Grosche, Börner, Stumpfl.

What has made this town in the few years of its existance so well-known?

  • that numerous native and foreign town planners, landscape architects, housing managers, sociologists and medical authorities have visited it,
  • although it is by no means complete,
  • and although certain facilities are still lacking?

Judge for yourself.

. . . . . . . . . .

"Habiflex" offers, in its "Gelsenkirchen balcony" and its lightweight space-divider, (fixed only at the two ends and with a number of flexible joints along its lenght), a versatile instrument, applicable to most situations where an adaptable room shape is desired.

Quelle: Objekt ist vorhanden in der Barkenberg-Sammlung in der BiBi am See. Siehe Abbildung auf dieser Seite.

1974 Urban Development in France and Germany


(excerpt) p.85: "I will give you a short description of the development process and organisation of the new town Wulfen at the northern rim of the Ruhrgebiet. This new town had to fulfill the following tasks:
a to house overspill population from the Ruhrgebiet
b to make possible a concentrated development in place of decentralised development for several surrounding small villages
c to improve the economic structure of the area.

Wulfen New Town is built on the territory of two villages, Wulfen and Lembeck which decided together with the state to build the new town. Jointly with some other shareholders, they formed a development company. It would have been equally possible to make a contract with an existing housing company. A supervisory board with delegates from the shareholders and the respective state and federal ministries controls the company. The company is responsible for planning, subdivision of land, provision of access and the steering of the entire development process. But the plans the company prepares legally are only drafts Local authorities in the existing villages have to approve them. To finance its activities, the company has several sources of finance. 20% to 40% of the planning costs in North Rhine Westphalia are paid by the state. The Federal Government gave 8 million DM to the project. The costs of the subdivision and management costs of the company will be met by profits on sale of land. These profits will increase in the future when development agents have the right of compulsory purchase at low predevelopment prices. The costs of the major access roads and similar investments are financed by the state or the Federal Government. Expenditures for internal roads will be allocated to adjoining owners. Schools and kindergartens are financed by the state and county. Houses are built by private companies.


Geschaftsfuhrer Dipl Ing Georg Wittwer Entwicklungsgesellschaft Wulfen MBH
for the Federal Ministry of Housing and Town Planning, Bonn

Location of Development Project

1 The New Town of Wulfen (target population 50 000 to 60 000 inhabitants) is a part of the northern development zone of the Ruhrdistrict. Wulfen, together with the neighbouring towns of Marl (20 000 inhabitants) [correct: 75 000 !], Dorsten (40 000 inhabitants) and Haltern, forms a developable, polycentric regional town. Access to this regional town is provided by the Wesel-Datteln Canal, the river Lippe, a railway serving industrial development in an east-west direction, and two railway tracks and three motorways from north to south. This development zone is surrounded in the north by the landscape park ‘Hohe Mark’, a large recreation area of the Ruhrdistrict.

Goals of Development

2 The development is being carried out in three independent communities. For the communities mainly concerned — Wulfen and Lembeck — a collective land-use plan Flachennutzungsplan has been drawn up. Before the start of the development both communities had about 3 500 inhabitants, each of basically rural structure (especially Wulfen) with a large commuter population. From the view point of regional and state planning the new town has to fulfill the following tasks:

i to provide for the population migrating from the Ruhrdistrict, mainly young people
ii to prevent destructive land use from a concentrated urban structure on the rim of a congested area
iii to improve the economic structure by the introduction of industrial and commercial enterprises.
iv to complete the regional infrastructure for the designated development area
v to provide an example of modern urban development.

The immediate reason for building a new town was the construction in 1958 of a new mine in Wulfen with good coal resources.

State of Development

3 Planning begun: 1961
Construction begun: Access 1964
Buildings 1966

State of development 1971:
Wulfen 8500 inhabitants
Lembeck 4500 inhabitants

4 By 1971 about 1200 apartments, one shopping centre and one elementary school had been completed. Two church centres and two additional elementary schools are under construction, besides about 800 housing units. The development programme provides for the construction of about 600 to 800 apartments with all supplementary public facilities and private services. By 1975 the pro- gramme proposes to provide, besides other facilities, 3000 new apartments, the first section of a town centre, a joint school centre, sports grounds and swimming pools, and the development of new industrial and commercial sites.

5 By 1971 Wulfen had about 1 800 jobs, and there were about 1 100 commuters away from Wulfen, and about 1 000 commuters into the town. By 1975 about 2 000 new jobs will be provided.

Organisational Pre-requisites

6 The two communities, Wulfen and Lembeck, are autonomous in that they have planning and financial autonomy, with their own legislation. But they jointly share an administration. A Development Company Wulfen Ltd. (Entwicklungsgesellschaft Wulfen mbH) has been founded as entrepreneur for the urban development. Shareholders are:
The Vereinigte Elektrizitats-und Bergwerks AG (VEBA)
The Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (Bank)
The Siedlungsverband Ruhrkohlenbezirk (Regional Public Corporation)
The Landkreis Recklinghausen (County Authority)
The Amt Hervest-Dorsten (Association for Administration)
The Gemeinden of Wulfen and Lembeck (Communities)

7 The company is provided with a supervisory board on which, besides the shareholders, delegates from the Federal Ministry of City Planning and Housing, and from the responsible Ministry of the Land Northrhine-Westphalia (Ministry of the Interior) are represented. The State Secretary of the Interior presides over the supervisory board.

8 The Wulfen Development Company is responsible for planning, sub-division of land, provision of access, and the steering of the entire development. Within this framework it also prepares the programmes for public facilities.

9 The company has no executive powers. All plans prepared by it have only the legal character of draft plans. Sub-division will be carried out solely on a private law basis. Necessary appropriation procedures can only be pursued by the communities. Co-operation between development company and community is regulated by contracts.

Activity of the Development Company

10 The company deals only with those functions that cannot be carried out elsewhere. That especially applies to land acquisition, organisation, cost control, and co-ordination of planning and realisation. Therefore the company has a small staff of highly qualified persons, to oversee the development process.

11. For detailed planning and for special tasks, the company uses the co-operation of independent consulting and engineering firms and institutes, which can be commissioned for co-operation full-time or intermittently through consultant contracts.

Current Law

12 The basis for all measures of urban construction has been hitherto the Bundesbaugesetz (Federal Bullding Act) of 1960. This provides the legislation for land use and zoning plans, sub-division and access. It does not contain special regulations for the development of new towns. It regulates the general urban development of communities. In addition to the Bundesbaugesetz of 1961 a land-use ordinance has been issued which, having been revised, provides nation-wide uniform regulations for the use of real estate and building sites. Besides these nation-wide regulations each federal state has a so-called Landesbauordnung (State Building Act). The financing of urban construction measures depends on the competence of individual federal states (Lander). Considerable differences in this respect exist from state to state.

The Stadtebauforderungsgesetz (Federal Act for promoting urban construction and renewal)

13. As an addition to the existing legislation in 1971 the Stadtebauforderungsgesetz was issued giving special regulations covering urban renewal and urban development. Experience of the use of this law is not available.

14 The New Town of Wulfen is financed under the earlier regulations as a concern of the federal states.

15 The Land Northrhine-Westphalia is the only state which has sponsored the building of new towns since the war. Since, unlike Great Britain, no special regulations for development measures have been issued, financing of these developments has followed the rules generally valid for all communities. Thus the financing of the New Town of Wulfen up to now has been based upon the following rules:

Cost of Planning

16 The Land Northrhine-Westphalia subsidises the costs of urban planning to an amount varying between 20% and 40%, depending on the importance of the project, and the existing annual budget of the state. The remaining costs are to be covered by the sale of building sites.

Costs of Sub-division

17 At the beginning of sub-division the Federal Republic allocated a single credit of about 8 million DM to the project. This will be used for the budgeting of housing. The Land Northrhine- Westphalia also gives subsidies for acquisition of non-profitable sites. The major costs of sub-division will be met by the prices charged for the plots sold. For profitable sites, ie sites which will be used for building purposes, the state has given cost subsidies for a period of five years.

Costs of Major Roads and Infrastructure

18 The high non-profitable expenditures for infrastructure services, such as roads, water supply and sewage, and canal construction will be covered by contributions by the state. The share of this contribution in recent years has been between 70% and 100%. The remaining fraction of costs will be met from the sale of land.

Internal Access Roads and Services

19 Under the regulations of the Bundesbaugesetz (Federal Building Act), all . expenditures on internal roads in a building area will be allocated to adjoining Owners under a fixed ratio formula. The community (for the New Town of Wulfen, it will be the Development Company) is now obliged to pay at least 10% of these costs by itself. This 10% cost proportion was formerly covered by contributions from the state. Sewage systems do not count as infrastructure services in this respect. Cost for this service will be met by the owner of house and plot on the basis of cost of provision and current charges for use.

Costs of Housing

20 In this context only publicly-subsidised housing construction will be of interest. This makes up 85% of the housing at Wulfen. Nation-wide uniform regulations relating to rents, areas of floorspace, and individual qualifications exist for the financing of housing construction. Construction of housing in the New Town of Wulfen follows these regulations. The houses are built by entrepreneur firms or the private owner. The Federal Republic has specially promoted construction of housing at Wulfen in support of demonstration projects.

Costs of Public Facilities and Buildings

21. Construction and installation of community facilities are the tasks of public bodies, especially community and development associations, including churches. The Land Northrhine-Westphalia gives contributions towards the construction of those facilities, such as schools, which are dependent on the fiscal capacity of the community. For the construction of schools in the New Town of Wulfen the contribution of the state totals 80% of building costs. The construction of Kindergartens is regulated by the state.

22 Building costs will be met, one-third by the state, one-third by the Landkreis (county) and community, and one-third by the proprietor, ie community association or church. For sports facilities, as long as they are not built in connection with the prescribed sports grounds of schools, the community has to pay a fraction of 30% by itself. 70% of the total costs will be paid jointly by the state and the Federal Republic; the state contributing the larger share. 60% of the costs for installations for medical care will be paid by the state. The development authority and the community are responsible for the remainder of the financing.

23 For other social facilities, such as Old People’s Homes, day-time facilities for the old, and for young children, the Landkreis (county) participates in financing them by providing contributions and credits up to 25% of the costs. The body responsible provides another 25% and the state the remaining 50%. All other facilities, which are erected by the community for purposes of its own administration, or for its municipal services, refuse disposal, etc, have to be financed completely by the community itself.

Relation of the Price of Building Plots to Costs

24 In connection with the planning, sub-division, access and building of the new town there are in addition to the above described costs also expenses for personal and material services, as for example the costs of the development company. In addition to this high costs are incurred in financing the necessary credits for the total project. This means that expenditures for administration and financing must be added to the costs arising from land purchase. A fixed formula is used to distribute the total cost over the newly sub-divided total site. Non-profitable sites, for instance for services, are surcharged at a low rate, profitable sites, such as building plots, are more heavily charged. The real estate price developed in this way will be further valued according to the floor area ratio permissible on each plot. An additional variation of prices can be made depending on the different location values and the permitted kind of use. Thus the financing of the entire project pays reasonable regard to the prospects of future development value.

Legal Regulations

25 As an entrepreneur the limited company has shown good results during the construction of the New Town of Wulfen. A limited company can act much more flexibly than a municipal administrator.

The lack of legal power of the company necessitates a municipal parliament favourably disposed towards the new development. But the necessary appreciation of the value of large-scale development and the problems that have to be overcome is slow to appear.

The planning of the community was decided in the primary phase by a municipal parliament, which on the one hand represented a population of 3 500 existing residents and on the other hand had to decide about projects for 50 000 to 60 000 new inhabitants.

The regulations about expropriation of land are imperfect.

Financing Procedure

26 During the early stages of the development the cost of building plots will reflect the heavy burden of planning, sub-division and administrative charges.
The fiscal competence of the community is especially problematic during the opening phase, when provision of infrastructure designated for future development exceeds the current fiscal capacity.
Financial support does not sufficiently consider the special economic situation of anew town. Itis orientated on the needs of a normal community and is too rigid for promoting a planned development.

Improvement of Financing

27 An improved method of financing could be achieved by adopting the following methods:

i Total financing of a basic unit of about 20 000 to 30 000 inhabitants by Federal Republic and state (Land). The budget of the community should be supervised to ensure a steadily increasing participation by the community in line with its growing tax revenues. The responsibility of the community could be increased in step with its increasing parti- cipation in the financing.

ii Low state contributions in the early phases of the project create a highcredit burden which inflates the plot price. The contributer (Federal Republic and state) would achieve better results if higher contributions were made during these early phases (ten to fifteen years). These could be used to provide a cash flow for housing during the development period for instance.

Process of Development and Financing

28 Because of changes in the economic conditions, trends, and structural problems of the entire region, the development of the New Town of Wulfen has been slower than intended. But previous experiments at Wulfen and the newtowns in Great Britain have produced evidence that the process of development can be influenced by appropriate financing. Method, scale and timing of public financing are important factors. Almost without exception, private investments follow the public lead.

29 From the experience obtained at Wulfen the following basic rules can be deduced:

Period of Planning

i To produce a satisfactory over-all plan, a preparatory period of three years will be necessary.

ii This period should be followed by another phase of about two years, during which time the major parts of general sewage and main service facilities will be prepared and construction started.

iii During this five-year period of planning the major parts of sub-division development have to be completed.

iv This phase of the planning process requires large subsidies from the financial backers for planning, sub-division, access and administration. The supply of credits during this period is only useful when interest-free and repayment-free years, and long-term loans are guaranteed.

v An additional preparatory period of about five years will be necessary for settlement of about 5 000 inhabitants, for construction of the first public facilities and for the settlement of first individual enterprises. vi This development period is also a non-profitable part of the project, because it needs subsidies from the public: for non-profitable land for housing and industrial enterprises; for construction of schools and facilities for leisure-time and recreation; for low rent housing and facilities for supply and maintenance; for public relation measures, to stimulate an influx of inhabitants, industry and private investors.

30 The next development period of five to ten years will be accompanied by accelerated growth of the new town, up to a scale of about 20 000 inhabitants. In British new towns this size of scale is the threshold for private investment, especially for industrial establishments. In this phase the New Town of Wulfen can anticipate a growing involvement of private investors. The public investors will concentrate on the completion of the major services, the construction of public facilities, and a 10% investment subsidy for settlement of industry.


31 Large and purposeful public investments have to be provided during the planning and starting period (that means for a term of ten to fifteen years), in order to stimulate private investors. These public investments should be given, if possible, as grants and long-term credits.

32 The contributions invested during the starting phase may later on be applied as stimulants to further investment, as soon as the proportion of private investments rises.

33 It is of great importance that during the early phases of development public facilities for education, for leisure, recreation and social care should be developed to a high standard in step with the building of houses.

34 During the starting phase there will be opportunities for the location of smaller or medium-sized industrial establishments serving about 5 000 inhabitants but the development of larger enterprises should not take effect until the population has reached 1 500 inhabitants.

35 The Stadtebauforderungsgestz (Federal Act for promoting urban construction and renewal), valid since 1971, provides improved measures in the field of financing, development and, to a limited extent, for the institutional control of these activities.

- - - -

Dieser Text ist ebenfalls abgedruckt in:
Financing New Communities: Government and Private Experience in Europe and the United States. US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Office of International Affairs. Washington 1973, S.51-57

1973 The new town of Wulfen (Verlagsort Athen)

The new town of Wulfen owes its existence primarily to the current population explosion and the rapid industrial growth in the northern - hitherto underdeveloped - area of the Ruhr District. Wulfen is situated north of the river Lippe on the southern outskirts of the Münsterland near the towns of Dorsten, Marl and Haltern and close to the Hohe Mark Nature Preserve.

The completion of a coal-mining plant - the first [!?] to be built north of the Lippe river - was the specific reason for the foundation of Wulfen, which is intended to effect a vital improvement in the residential and industrial structure of the Lippe area. It is hoped that it will check the current exodus of skilled workers in this part of the Ruhr District and that it will prevent the land from being divided into countless uneconomically small built-up areas.

In 1967, the first flats were occupied at Barkenberg. Today, Barkenberg has 4,500 inhabitants with schools, kindergartens and retail shops.

The plan of Wulfen was the subject of an international competition won by Professor Eggeling of Berlin. The work subsequently done by many experts of various disciplines has been based an his idea of a bustling and lively town of 50,000 inhabitants which is in complete harmony with its scenic environment.

Wulfen´s location near the Hohe Mark Nature Preserve provides an ideal setting, undisturbed by highway traffic or industrial pollution, and with high recreational value.

Within the town air pollution has been avoided by utilizing electrical heat. Smokeless energy supply enhaces the "longevity" of the buildings, as well as raising the quality of life in this town. Wulfen´s skyline is not only without chimneys, but also without TV antennas by utilizing one collective antenna and providing a cable from it to each dwelling.

Motor lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians are completly seperated from each other. This leaves vast peaceful urban areas free from the hazards of heavy road traffic, while providing short and safe walkways to the most important municipal institutions, such as kindergartens, schools, retail shops, and the adjacent recreation areas.

The natural setting was preserved within the town through preservation of scenic landmarks, including controls fining builders for cutting down mature trees. Park strips alterning with built-up sites, tall buildings with flat ones, densely built-up areas with less densely built areas, multi-storeyed houses with bungalows, provide variety in the built environment.

Sociologically the architects also planned for variety by mingling sizes of units within one and the same building. For example, the ground floor is generally reserved for large flats with a garden for families with children.

Der Autor Paul Otto Schulz war ein Mitarbeiter der Hamburger PR-Agentur Lutz Böhme, die für die Entwicklungsgesellschaft Wulfen tätig wurde. Erschienen ist der Aufsatz im Juli 1973 in der Zeitschrift EKISTICS (Verlagsort Athen!), Heft 212, Seite 64 bis 66. (Vorhanden in der Stadt- und Schulbibliothek, Wu-Fa 73ZM.)

1973 Housing system in the new town of Wulfen

At the instigation of the Minister of the Interior of the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen, the Federal Minister for Regional Planning, Construction and Town Planning, as well as the Wulfen Development Association, there are being applied in 1973 several new building systems in the housing sector in the new town of Wulfen.

During the preliminary studies various problems were cleared up which, in addition to their general significance, are of special importance for the development of the new town:
1.The mounting demand for more comfort, the growth of new demands as a family expands and ages, and the steady increase in the desire for more space all require that plans be adaptable.
2. The residential environment, i.e., the "semi-public realm" in the vicinity of the home, is growing in importance and calls for facilities outside the "home" proper. Such public facilities are subject to change depending on the demographic structure.
3. In the case of development schemes (as in urban renewal projects), urban growth phases make their appearance in a definite order. Thus housing tends to grow before the development of private and public services takes place. The additional space requirement can be satisfied by expansion or by conversion of already existing premises. In order to render possible this process of constant transformation, methods of building have to be selected that are flexible. The systems envisaged for application in 1973 appear at different levels of préfabrication and are alterable to different degrees.

2 groups should be distinguished:
1. The projects "Meta-city" and "Finn-city" are situated on the edge of the future core area. Long-range functional transformations can be expected there. The "Meta-city", a wholly flexible and wholly standardized system, meets all the necessary requirements. In the case of "Finn-city", conversion potentiality is restricted to ground-floor and upper floor; itwas planned to be constructed in accordance with a mixed building method.
2. The projects "Habiflex", "RSC System", "Döring" and "Woller" are situated in purely residential areas and offer builders and occupants different degrees of adaptation potentiality. "Habiflex" and "RSC" are wholly prefabricated; the Woller serial houses are largely prefabricated; the Döring complex will be erected in accordance with a cavity- fill method.
Work will probably commence on the different projects some time between April and August 1973.

Quelle: Wohnbausysteme in der Neuen Stadt Wulfen = Systèmes de construction pour logements dans la nouvelle ville de Wulfen = Housing system in the new town of Wulfen / Autor: Wittwer, Georg. Zeitschrift: Bauen + Wohnen = Construction + habitation = Building + home : internationale Zeitschrift Band (Jahr): 27 (1973)

1967 Report on the Social Aspects of the Regional Development (urban areas)

"Among the intentions for this third [development] zone is the creation, on an axis parallel to that of the developement of the coal-fields, of new towns [Plural!], the first of which, WULFEW [sic!], is now in process of development. This centre, established on the territory of three muncipalities with 8,000 population, is intended to contain a population of 50,000 (30,000 in the next ten years). Its growth is in the hands of a development company founded in 1960 jointly by the Land and the Association [for the planning of the Ruhr coal basin, SVR]. Directed by an architect, a team is at work, comprising engineers, lawyers, sociologists etc. The plan adopted is centred on a thalweg and provides for 'the construction of an important main centre and secondary centres'." S.132

Wörtliche Wiedergabe einschließlich Formatierung und Tippfehler aus :
Report on the Social Aspects of the Regional Development (urban areas) / Social Committee, XXXIIIrd Session der Europäischen Gemeinschaft, 1967. CE/Soc (67) 1. Darin zweiseitiger Abschnitt über den Gebietsentwicklungsplan 1966 des SVR. Vorhanden in der Bibliothek des RVR Essen, VIIIa 12 025

History of Mining in Dorsten

from Michael Kuschke : (nicht mehr online)


Examines the development of Wulfen, a new town in West Germany. Looks at its development corporation, based on the English model but crucially different in that it has to work through the local authorities for planning permission.

BBC 1972. 16 mm, schwarzweiß, 25 Minuten.

(Vermutlich entstanden aus dem Material dieses 45minütigen Filmes :

Siehe auch