Leave the past behind and build a better future – that was the defining spirit of the postwar years. From the 1950s to the 1970s, many countries in Europe experienced not only an economic upswing, but also unparalleled scientific, academic, cultural, and social progress. That time is long gone, but its architecture has survived: modern schools, universities, town halls, churches, shopping malls, and housing estates. All of these were built for a better future; now they are the legacy of the past.
The Ruhr area is characterized by postwar buildings and structures more than perhaps any other region in Germany. After the Second World War, reconstruction efforts, economic growth, and technological progress turned the Ruhr metropolitan area into a testing ground for innovative architecture and urban planning.
This photo book documents the campaign “Big Beautiful Buildings. When the Future Was Built” launched in the Ruhr area as part of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage. For one year, it put a spotlight on the region’s Big Beautiful Buildings, allowing the public to rediscover structures ranging from large to small, well-known to obscure, eye-catching to inconspicuous. The campaign provided comprehensive information on the architecture and included a program of artistic, cultural, and entertainment events.