A square for all at the Christuskirche Church

Essen „Altendorf“

(North-Rhine Westphalia)


Image: Luftbild des Stadtquartiers

Aerial photograph: Stadt Essen, Vermessungsamt

The urban district of Altendorf is situated on the western outskirts of Essen (pop. 588,000), approx. 3.5 km from the city centre. It is one of the urban districts with particular need for development (programme area "Soziale Stadt" (Social City)). Large wasteland industrial areas separate it geographically from the inner city. Not least, the social problems contributed to the poor image of the urban district.

The Christuskirche Square is situated in a densely populated inner city residential area with a high proportion of migrants and socially neglected population groups. With the Christuskirche church, it forms the geographical centre of the neighbourhood and is surrounded by three to four-storey apartment blocks from the Wilhelminian period and after the war.

The surrounding area and the design of the Christuskirche Square no longer corresponded to the varied social requirements of the district's residents. Elevated flower beds and dense trees resulted in an unclear geographical situation. The car park had become a meeting point for youths, from where noise, disturbances and also threats to the residents sometimes came during the evenings.

The traffic situation was also unsatisfactory. The measures implemented almost indiscriminately in the 1970s and 80s had led to many residents criticising the lack of life on the Square. They felt cut off from the surrounding urban area. Therefore, solutions had to be found to convert the Square, which was seen as a nightmare, into a lively neighbourhood square.

The project was funded and evaluated between 2006 and 2007 as a model plan in the research project "Innovationen für familien- und altengerechte Stadtquartiere" (Innovations for urban squares suitable for families and elderly people) in the federal research programme "Experimenteller Wohnungs- und Städtebau" (Experimental Residential and Urban Development) - ExWoSt.


Project description

Image: Blick auf den neu gestalteten Platz

Photography: Dip-.-Ing. Helmut Fox, Büro für Freiraumplanung

The development process for converting the Christuskirche Square was intensively supported by the residents with support from the University of Duisburg-Essen (Institut für stadtteilbezogene soziale Arbeit und Beratung – ISSAB). Problems were identified, ideas collected and goals formulated in discussions, citizen meetings and events. The resulting "components" were collated to form a holistic concept for the area around the Christuskirche Church. The concept was implemented in planning through joint work between offices of the City of Essen, a landscape architect, a light artist and the church. Collegiate ideas and a workshop with the Altendorf steering group ultimately defined the planning basis.

Meanwhile, the square has been designed as a multifunctional site which has various uses. For example, it can be used for role plays and smaller festivals. If offers seating in various heights and designs. The topography, which slopes from south to north, has been used to create levels. They have a separating effect as well as working as connecting elements. Rows of trees surround the central urban square, laid with slabs. Pronounced trees have been kept and integrated into the design of the square. A park with a play area, fountains and sand games border the north. The southern side forms an area with a waterbound floor with individual play elements and benches.

The lighting concept was implemented via a PPP measure (Public Private Partnership). The installation was paid for by the City, the operating costs by the church. The designed open space is characterised by varied areas which are mostly used by small children, youths and older people. The square in front of the church is also intensively used by children and youths from the neighbouring school.

The Christuskirche Square has been thoroughly redesigned beyond the street areas. It has become a square with an urban, park-like character. Street areas no longer separate, but instead create a connection from the apartment buildings to the adjacent open spaces. On the eastern side, the square has been re-opened to through-traffic.


Project chronology

Year Event
1998 Analysis of the outdoor space situation in the neighbourhood; definition of individual measures for enhancing the urban neighbourhood; creation of a management concept
2001 Residents' meeting and active survey
2001 First collegiate designs
2001-2003 Planning drafts, steering group workshop, lighting plan
2004 Decision by the district representative and the council of the City of Essen
2004 Information event for residents
2005 Start of building
2006 Construction site festival on the completed church square
2007 End of construction and festival


Image: Blick auf die Fußwegeverbindung am Platz

Photography: Dip-.-Ing. Helmut Fox, Büro für Freiraumplanung

  • Conversion of the area around the Christuskirche church
  • Centre and meeting place for all generations
  • Upgrading of the urban district
  • Design of new open spaces with different function areas
  • Support for social living-together in the urban district
  • Forming resident identification with the urban district

Types of measures

Image: Blick auf den neu gestalteten Platz

Photography: Dip-.-Ing. Helmut Fox, Büro für Freiraumplanung

  • Active surveying with support from the university
  • Discussion events
  • Citizen participation
  • Creation of working groups on subjects such as transport and improving the living environment
  • Creation of a holistic concept for the area around the Christuskirche church
  • Implementation in joint work between offices of the City of Essen, a landscape architect, a lighting artist and the church


Image: Eröffnungsfest

Photography: Stadtteilbüro Essen-Altendorf

With the redesign of the Christuskirche Square, a new centre for the Urban District Altendorf and an urban space for various uses and age groups has been created. Through renaturation measures and the strong illumination of trees, as well as through the implementation of the lighting concept, the areas of the square have been successfully openly designed. With help from the newly created, clear spatial structure, the residents' previous feelings of uncertainty have been replaced.

Not least, the local participation culture is the reason for the creation of a square with a high quality of design with an open, mixed offer for all generations.



  • "Environment Design" 1:200, Dipl.-Ing. Helmut Fox, Büro für Freiraumplanung
  • Project tables, City of Essen ISSAB Universität Duisburg-Essen, Diakoniewerk Essen

Further information

Größere Kartenansicht

The projekt site ist to be found at postal code: 45143 - town: Essen - street: Röntgenstraße 13 .



  • City of Essen, Urban Development Office, Rathaus, Porscheplatz, 45121 Essen, District Representative Essen-Altendorf: Brigitte Liesner, Tel.: 0201/ 88-88715, E-Mail: brigitte.liesner@stadtentwicklung.essen.de
  • Urban District Office Essen Altendorf, Kopernikusstr. 8, 45143 Essen, Torben Koenig, Tel.: 0201/8888776, E-Mail: treffpunkt@altendorf.essen.de.
  • City of Essen, Civil Engineering Office (Street Area Design, Squares and Lighting)
  • Grün & Gruga Essen (design of the waiting and play areas, green areas)
  • City of Essen, Office for Property Management (technical equipment)
  • Stadtwerke Essen (replacement of underground pipes)
  • Institut für Stadtteilbezogene Soziale Arbeit und Beratung (ISSAB) of the University Duisburg-Essen
  • Werbering Altendorf (joint initiators)
  • Landscape architect Helmut Fox (planning, partly also construction management and coordination) Freier Landschaftsarchitekt BDLA, Velauer Str. 74, 45472 Mühlheim, Tel.: 0208 - 370707
  • Architect and lighting artist Peter Brdenk, Essen
  • Church and residents

Record inserted on 06.11.2008 by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) within the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR).

Last update: 19.11.2013