Marl is a small town just north west of Dortmund, Germany and is located in an area previously rife with coal mines and related industry. During the 1960s and 70s, however, the coal mines began to dry up and the communities lost their income. To combat this, many cities took on initiatives to bring in more workers and find more sources of revenue for the areas. Marl is a relatively small city but found one different form of community rejuvenation, in sculptures and changes in architecture.
The council wanted to completely change the face of Marl and put it ‘back on the map’, so to speak. They chose to construct buildings that were a completely different look on architectural design such as the Marler Stern, council buildings and the Hugelhauser. Alongside these new age structures, a sculpture museum was set up and has grown massively over the past decades. Opening in 1974 together with the Marler Stern shopping centre, the Glaskasten is home to numerous unique sculptures and artefacts.
Marl is home to over 70 pieces of art and sculptures throughout the city, mostly surrounding the museum. Many people regard it as one of the most high populated cities for artwork. This has in turn given Marl a name as being the place to go for creative minds and also as an attraction for families to find all the sculptures. In fact on my visit to the area, when asking on multiple occasions to my friend and ‘tour guide’ Andreas, what is over there, I was greeted every time with the response of ‘art’.
Adding to the family friendly and relaxed, creative atmosphere of the area around the museum is a deliberate ‘car free zone’. No cars are permitted to drive near the museum and instead many free car parks have been built to accommodate visitors and shoppers interested in the local facilities. The city has been planned in arriving to the city centre by public transport is much easier than by car with connections many connections to neighbouring cities.
The area brings together a multitude of interests; art, shopping and work through the museum, shopping centre and council buildings. The Marler Stern shopping centre is one of the biggest in Nord-rhein Westphalen at 58000 square metres and considering the area was completed in 1974, it has held this record for a long time. If square footage wasn’t enough, the centre also has the Guinness World Record for largest air-cushioned roof, admittedly not the most common of construction styles, but still a sign that the area was revolutionary for 1974.
The buildings behind the museum are the council and governmental offices, built in 1972 and have looked over the surrounding area ever since, seeing the constant changes in artwork and pieces placed on the public grounds. A wide selection of these pieces were bought from neighbouring countries after international cities came together in Marl to showcase different sculptures. These countries also took back some the pieces with them too, cities from Holland and Switzerland were involved bringing pieces from local artists.
Marl itself has continued its development of having a different look on community through its projects with the locals. In recent years the council have built walls specifically for graffiti artist and children to show their work or experimentations. A month’s license can be purchased for rights to the wall for whatever the artist chooses. There are even walls that once painted on with permission, are listed as artwork and may not be touched, similar to the old sections of the wall in Berlin.
Within Marl there is a real sense of togetherness in Creiler Platz and the surrounding area. Created many years ago and still has a sense of community and history without destroying what the city was originally built around.