Duisburg and the three partner cities for the World Games 2005 are situated in the most exciting region in Germany, if not in the whole of Europe - the Ruhrgebiet. Urban transformation and the potential for change on a smaller and larger scale is nowhere more obvious than in this highly industrialised region in the State of Northrhine Westphalia. Nowhere else on our continent do people live and work so close together as they do between Duisburg and Dortmund - a conurbation of 5 million people. The process of change in the cities is mirrored in the entire region - the heritage of the past is taking on a new face. Modern industries are sprouting up among the dinosaurs of coal, iron and steel production whose heyday is past. High-tech and "clean" energy are slowly but surely taking over the previously dominant role of the traditional industrial sectors. Factories for the manufacture of solar cells are beeing established - the many universities serve as germ cells of innovation in a mutually valuable symbiosis with industry. The Ruhrgebiet is set on a new course with the full support of its people.
They have chosen their very own direction into the future. The past achievements of the region, of which present generations can be justifiably proud, are assimilated in the construction of the new. An entire region along the River Emscher was transformed within the framework of the "Internationale Bauausstellung" (IBA) - an organisation responsible for the reclaiming and renewal of industrial wasteland. This kind of scheme, with 110 projects and spread over an area of 800 square kilometres, is unique. Bottrop, Mülheim, Oberhausen and Duisburg have all joined this dynamic movement, and their images have been enhanced as a result.
In Duisburg a new type of landscape park has sprung up on what used to be 200 hectares of industrial wasteland. Today this disused iron and steel works is a gigantic industrial museum. The project "Dienstleistungspark Innenhafen" (Service Industries Park - Inner Port), is transforming a harbour area , more than a century old, into a new multi-functional facility. Based on ideas developed by the British star architect Sir Norman Foster, over 450 flats are being built in a typical canal landscape in close proximity to the city centre. The old granary buildings offer locations of character for artists and people in the creative sector.
Oberhausen has turned a 117 metre high gasometer, formerly a storage facility for gases used in iron and steel production, into the highest exhibition hall in Europe. The artist Christo and his wife Jeanne Claude made this "monster" the museum for their art. 13,000 coloured oil barrels were stacked up in the cylindrical interior of the gasometer for their installation "The Wall".
500,000 litres of water were once stored in the water tower Aquarius in Mülheim. Today the same tower, built in 1892 by August Thyssen, is home to a multimedia water theme museum. The first large shopping centre in Germany, the Rhine-Ruhr Zentrum, was developed on the former site of a coal mine in Mülheim.
In Bottrop the Tetrahedron, a 50 metre high filigree steel construction, rises up over a former gigantic slag heap - a further visible sign of structural change in the region.
This redevelopment growing new within a traditional framework is brave, future oriented and innovative. In Oberhausen, the CentrO., combining shopping mall and leisure complex, was also developed on a former industrial area. Duisburg is planning the Urban-Entertainment- Centre Multi Casa. In addition North Rhine Westphalia`s fifth casino will be built in Duisburg - a further gain whose power of attraction will reach far beyond the region's boundaries.
Sport plays an important role in the framework of all these changes. People here are enthusiastic followers of sport - not only of football, which enjoys a dominant position but also of many other kinds of sport. The "Sports State" Northrhine Westphalia and the cities encourage and support the enthusiasm of both fans and active participants in many different ways.
All aspects of sport are taught as an academic subject at the universities. Theory is put into practice with the ready availability of around 38,000 sporting venues of different sizes and grades. All in all, the region is well prepared to host any large sporting occasion. Assistance from the state and the cities is constantly adapted to meet the changing requirements and local demands. Focal points have been set and the cities of Duisburg, Oberhausen, Mülheim and Bottrop have been prioritised for the World Games 2005, concentrating their resources to offer those participating the best possible facilities.