Espelkamp, Germany, Europe
Year1949latitude: 52° 22'
longitude: 8° 37'
Planning organizationEvangelist Church Association
Nationality initiator(s)None
Designer(s) / Architect(s)
Design organizationNone
Inhabitants27,000 (2007)
Target population
Town website
Town related links
Literature- Henning, Horst, Espelkamp. In zehn Jahren eine neue Heimat für Zehntausend, Bonn 1959.

type of New Town: > scale of autonomy
New Town
Company Town
> client
Private Corporation
Public Corporation
> policy
(1) Espelkamp is a city in Nordrhein-Westfalen. During WWII the wood close to the old village of Espelkamp was used as munition plant location. After the war the munition plant was to be completely destroyed, but a major refused, and as the second British Army arrived in the spring of 1945 it found the camp undamaged. A few months later the first refugees started moving into the empty houses in the colony. In the late 40s homes and industry areas got constructed. Today around 40% of Espelkamp's population are immigrants from Russia, Kasachstan and other countries of the earlier east block.

(2) Introduction
Espelkamp is located in Ostwestfalen, Minden-Lübecke in West Germany. The local Evangelist Church Association planned Espelkamp as a refugee town after the war. Until World War II Espelkamp was a small town. But after the war the amount of inhabitants (legal and illegal) increased because of the flow of refugees from the Eastern Block, who came to Espelkamp in search of housing and work. During the war a large part of Espelkamp was used by the National Socialists as a production area for ammunition. The war refugees built barracks near the destroyed factories. But the living situation was miserable and the Evangelist Church Association, who had already built a church and a children's home, wanted it to improve. The real origin of the Espelkamp New Town was in 1949, when Pastor Birger Forell initiated a plan for a new settlement.

Urban plan en design
In October of the same year, Nordrhein-Westfalen, the evangelist church of Germany and the Evangelist Church of Westfalen founded a construction association (Aufbaugemeinschaft Espelkamp GmbH), to create new houses, work and food supplies, for those who had lost their Heimat in the war. The church was the spatial and mental centre of the town. The Evangelist Church Association was convinced that the church could create a feeling of community within the population. The inhabitants could gather in the church and were connected because of the horrible things they had all experienced. Saint Martin became the symbol of the town. The sharing of his coat with the poor was a central message to the inhabitants that this town was built with love and meant to share love. The main part of the town was located to the east of the railway. The association found it important to realize a town that was different from most of the post-war satellite towns. The designers tried to realize this with an attractive street view with several housing types, curved streets and the placement of the residences in the woods. The plan was similar to the structure of the old ammunition centre with a main infrastructure consisting of three curving East-West roads that connected the three main roads. The housing types were four-storey high flats, rows of family houses with saddle roofs, bungalows, four-storey high housing slabs and building complexes with shops on the ground floor. But also the houses of the old villages were incorporated in the New Town and some of the old Muna factory buildings were restored and functioned as storehouses. The visibility of the church and the combination of the old and new architecture gave the city an identity.

Construction started in 1951 with cutting down trees and attracting Firms to make Espelkamp an independent town instead of a dorm town. Employment would give the refugees a new basis for living. The planned industrial area of 77 ha for approximately 1,600 workers, was however not realized before 1968. Most of the inhabitants worked in the factories of the chemical and the mechanical and iron-processing industry. After acquiring city rights in 1959, the city's first public buildings were constructed: a new station (1959), the city hall (1962), a swimming pool (1963) and a church (1963). After 1964 the city itself undertook the construction of the infrastructure and the waterworks.

Present situation
The number of inhabitants had increased since the construction period from almost 2,500 to over 10,000 in 1958. At the end of the sixties the city had grown so much that new borders were determined, on 17.4 square meters for 12,530 inhabitants. In the seventies, the city underwent a new immigration flow of people from the Eastern block because of the Moscow agreement (August the 12. 1970) and the Warschau agreement (December the 7. 1970). This led to an incredible increase of land: from 17.4 to 84.1 square meters and with a population of more than 23,500 inhabitants. After the unification a new influx of inhabitants resulted in new building activities. 340 new rental apartments were built. In 2007 Espelkamp counted more than 26,000 inhabitants.

source: (1)
(2) Saskia Hulskes

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