(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.