Date: 23–28 September, 2018
Location: Wolfsburg, Germany
Sponsor: The City of Wolfsburg, Volkswagen AG and the Wolfsburg AG
Title: Better Together: Wolfsburg and Volkswagen
Panel Chair: Professor Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg CEO, HafenCity, Hamburg, Germany
Background and Panel Assignment
In September 2018, ULI Europe convened a five-day Advisory Services panel in Wolfsburg, Germany. The city is the headquarters for Volkswagen and home to the largest car manufacturer in the world, housing production, research, and development facilities. With such a dominant employer, the city’s development and economy are closely linked. Now, with the rapid shift in the automotive industry towards electro-mobility (e-mobility), new ways of production, and digitisation, Wolfsburg and Volkswagen face both significant challenges and opportunities.
Summary of Recommendations
The panel has analysed the current situation in numerous visits, interviews and workshops with stakeholders and developed strategy recommendations from this. This report presents the results under the heading “Better Together” and contains five core theses.
The recommendations for action on urban development in Wolfsburg are as follows:
1. Value the Gap
In Wolfsburg, the Mittellandkanal forms a fixed border north of the city centre. As a result, many areas near the waterway are underused and cut off. The panel proposes, among other things, the opening of the canal promenade on the factory side and the relocation of Volkswagen offices to the city centre. The city and the company must move together visibly.
2. Develop the Core
The city centre in Wolfsburg is divided into two sub-sections. Nordkopf and Porschestrasse have different urban characteristics. The panel proposes, among other things, the development of a lively, dense urban core around Nordkopf through more intensive mixed use and the creation of working and living spaces with innovative usage models. Further central elements are a significant upgrading and integration of Porschestrasse and the rear areas through design while retaining the local character of the street and in particular the Südkopf.
3. Link to Nature
The panel takes the view that Wolfsburg, with its special urban structure and the large green open spaces between village-like settlements, has a particularly attractive character for many people. The ULI experts propose, among other things, to effectively use the existing nature in the cityscape in order to create attractive, unspoilt local recreation areas and residential areas.
To make green spaces the strategic brand core of the city for new residents as well. In doing so, it must be ensured that people of all ages can be mobile without cars and in different phases of life in the sometimes spatially dispersed neighbourhoods.
4. Advance Mobility
Automobility in particular is on the verge of upheaval. E-mobility, autonomous driving and car sharing are some of the aspects. The panel sees Wolfsburg as a large testing ground for the early development and utilisation of new forms of mobility in the city. Due to its structure, Wolfsburg is ideally suited to give this test case a realistic background. This development can also serve as a showcase for additional visitors and a blueprint for other cities.
5. Pioneer Wolfsburg
The panel in Wolfsburg sensed a strong pioneering spirit, which must be used even more intensively in the future. The cooperative model of a joint strategic approach between the city and Volkswagen should be further expanded. Volkswagen can consistently follow the path of pioneering technology, progressive production and new mobility concepts and test them out in Wolfsburg. Under the framework of a strong master plan, the city should position itself as an innovation centre and an attraction for the players in the knowledge society.