(Trinational) reading and understanding border areas

Border­lines and border zones
RWTH Aachen
Prof. Dr. Agnes Förster
Gisela Schmitt
Prof. Christa Reicher
Anne Söfker-Rieniets

Lehrstuhl für Planungstheorie und Stadtentwicklung, Lehrstuhl und Institut für Städtebau und Europäische Urbanistik

The contri­bu­tion of RWTH Aachen Univer­sity focuses on the trina­tional border region of Germany, Belgium and the Nether­lands. Two diffe­rent thematic approa­ches are chosen in diffe­rent spatial sections in the format of „impromptu tasks“ with lite­ra­ture and news­paper rese­arch as well as inspec­tions and mapping.

One approach, enti­tled „Border Lines“, deals with the trans­for­ma­tion of visible and invi­sible borders since the uncon­trolled cros­sing of internal borders in the border triangle has been possible as a principle of the Schengen Agree­ment. In the border area of the border triangle the visible after-effects of the old border situa­tion and the gradual merging of the border areas are to be recorded, docu­mented and trans­lated into trans­ferable spatial cate­go­ries. Cross-border ever­yday expe­ri­ences, derived from news­paper analysis and spon­ta­neous inter­views with passers-by, docu­ment the subject areas of the invi­sible border lines with their problems and potentials.

„Quer zur Grenze“ is the title of the second perspec­tive, which deals with the local iden­ti­ties of border zones in the trina­tional border area. In a Europe without internal borders, the dissol­ving border regions have to search for an iden­tity that can under­stand the loss of the old iden­tity not as a danger, but as an oppor­tu­nity and gain of a new, comple­tely diffe­rent iden­tity. In the search for a method of conveying this oppor­tu­nity, this approach aims to find special urban plan­ning or urban socio­lo­gical iden­ti­ties that can serve as a model for larger move­ments of growing toge­ther. In the search for special border­line situa­tions, the consi­de­ra­tions go back to the 19th century.