How may I critique a work that I have never visited? It is difficult to imagine Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord as a whole as it envelops a former steel and coal mill of 500 acres. Peter Latz, principal of Latz + Partner, the firm that designed the park from 1990-2002, has reflected this in the past:
The park is not a park in the common sense, not easy to survey, not clearly arranged, not recognizable as a whole. According to its situation amidst chaotic agglomerations and infrastructure lines, it appears as a torn figure with numerous different aspects.” (Places 17.3, 7)
The designer intent for the park was to act as a stage for historical reflection -- that a grandfather could bring his grandchildren to the park and explain what all the machinery once accomplished. (Wikipedia) This purpose of memory is a core theme to the design. It suggests that the park, while preserving the past with these slowly decaying structures can act as a creche for new experiences. This is evident through the varied amount of recreational activities possible on the site -- scuba diving, rock climbing, event gathering/performing -- all of which takes into account the existing architecture and are not (physically) new constructions themselves.
The park takes into account this existing materiality -- concrete and steel and water -- and adds a layer of memory and plants. Latz's idea of greening between the existing structures was the basis for his proposal getting accepted. It was fiscally and culturally responsible. (Lubow NY Times, 3) The layer of memory that was added was a nightly light installation referencing the mill's 24 hour a day active past, and a layer that also intended to create individual environments throughout the park -- one that was "misty, one normal, one dry." (Lubow, 5)
I think this attempt of greening decaying structure is very successful as a whole -- but I lament the lack of small, intimate, light-filled/light-voided spaces. I understand that this park was created from the German idea of a "volkspark", that is, a park created for active recreation versus one created for quiet contemplation, but I find many of these exposed spaces incongruous with the idea of the memory. I think that spaces scaled to the individual makes that individual more acutely aware of either sudden (or subtle) shifts in material, acoustics and experience.
There are glimpses of these spaces, two of which I have supplied for this essay, but I somehow wish there could be more. I do not know how I would change these spaces; I just think that Latz's purposeful lack of vantage points (to encourage visitors to create new experiences on their own rather than a designer imposing these experiences on them) detracts from the design. Perhaps if these two spaces were merged together to form a network throughout the site would this idea of memory and new experience [of discovery] hold more true and be more applicable to my yet-to-be-determined thesis.