A creative quarter in the making

The Westend area in Dortmund has been tagged "the city’s up and coming creative quarter"

The remodelling area surrounding the Rheinische Straße in the direct vicinity of the Dortmunder U has been tagged „the city’s up and coming creative quarter“ long before the opening of the “centre for arts and creativity”. One year post-Ruhr.2010, we have roamed the streets, taking stock, discussing the development prognosis with the respective protagonists.

Atelier Lange Straße
Atelier Lange Straße. Foto: Holger Steffens
One fact has to be mentioned first: things in this neighbourhood have been evolving considerably within the last few months. More and more, creative people of all kinds have made the Westend their work and exhibition space of choice. The creative community “Elektromesi” already moved from the Nordstadt district to the Westend in March 2010, and now uses its studio in the Lange Straße as a think tank for their ideas regarding design, textiles, painting, and illustration.



A potpourri of new residents


Osman Xani's Kunst Atelier
Osman Xani's Kunst Atelier. Foto: Holger Steffens
The ten creative minds weren’t alone for a long time, though: painter Osman Xani opened his painting and workshop studio „Kunst Atelier“ right across the street, adding yet another facet to the mix.
Even the formerly not really rich and variegated gastronomic offers have improved: Silke Arnoldi and Arne Sadowski have put a lot of time, money, work, and soul into the former „Café Corso“, renaming it „Moses“, and turning it into a combination of a café, restaurant, and exhibition space. The „Moses“ hasn’t become one of these artists-only cafés, though. Silke Arnoldi likes that: „That’s good. After all, we wanted to create a space w
Cafe Moses
The former Cafe Corso became Artistcafe Moses. Foto: Holger Steffens
here everybody can relax and have a good time.“ Still, the topic of arts is and stays a staple of their concept. So, if you don’t happen to have a studio and are looking for an exhibition or selling location for your paintings or sculptures: just contact the “Moses” crew.


And there’s more to be found just some metres down the street: across the Salon Atelier which had already been a harbour for several artists long before the Dortmunder U, three ladies will move in at the end of August – their home base will be called „Schönspur“ and the three dedicate their professional interest to the fine arts, focusing on arts and theatre pedagogy. „When looking for adequate rooms, we were focusing on the Westend“, Silke Bachner explains. „The Westend offers an exciting cultural diversity – it could definitely become a creative quarter.“

The Westend
The Westend. Foto: Holger Steffens



Artists flock to the Westend


Quartiermanagment Rheinische Straße
Quartiermanagment Rheinische Straße. Foto: Holger Steffens
Other creative people seem to share exactly this opinion, zeroing in on this district. „We have between five and ten enquiries per months dealing with locations such as studios“, planning consultant Helga Beckmann of the Quartiersmanagement Rheinische Straße points out. „Well, the district has some distinct advantages to offer: affordable rents, a big supply of vacant salesrooms, and it’s also close to downtown.“
For many private property owners, renting to artist groups is a good alternative to the original plan of use. If a hairdresser closes his salon, it’s vacant, and the landlord has to find another interested party for the location. But a group, especially an artist group, will more likely keep the place busy on the long run.


Union Gewerbehof
The Union Gewerbehof. Foto: Holger Steffens
The demand has increased considerably in the meantime, a tendency which is confirmed by the managing director of the Union Gewerbehof, Gerd Nottenbohm: “In the meantime, we have received more requests regarding office or studio space than we can supply. The district is undergoing a change, although I doubt that the Westend will become an epitome of an intellectual / artist quarter after all. Still, the actual situation and trend show a positive development.“

So, the artists are indeed leaving their marks in the Westend, although most of the studios display a strikingly low-key facade design, not looking like red-hot think & do tanks at all. But community activities like „Neue Kolonie West“ offer us a glimpse behind the curtains of the creative goings-on – every two months, all people interested in culture could take a stroll through the Westend, and stop by in many of the studios which will be open to the public then.




photos: Holger Steffens


 

Sat, 30.07.2011 0

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24.02.2010

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City

Metropole Ruhr
These days, more than 5 million inhabitants do experience the transformation of their post- industrial Ruhr area in the western part of Germany to an exciting European „place to be“, a budding metropolis in a post-Capital of Culture 2010 identification process with its industrial culture as part of a collective memory being a characteristic feature – and an orchestrated mass event.

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