Our Hahnenbach: new stream - renewed quality of life in the district

For over 80 years, the fenced-off open sewage channel “Hahnenbach” in Gladbeck-Brauck was considered an unsightly obstacle in the district. In order to create a space here that both reduces the effects of climate change and improves the quality of life of local residents, the Emschergenossenschaft (Emscher Association) set up the project “Our Hahnenbach” in conjunction with the City of Gladbeck and the district office in Brauck, and carried out a comprehensive renaturalisation of the watercourse – with the involvement of local people. The newly created waterside adventure trail now serves as a habitat and a space for recreation and education.

Like so many watercourses near the Emscher river, the Hahnenbach in Gladbeck-Brauck was also an area to be avoided: the concrete-lined stream was not an inviting place to spend any time – not least because of the unpleasant smell. As part of the collaborative project “Together for the New Emscher Valley”, the “Our Hahnenbach” waterside adventure trail was developed here by the City of Gladbeck, Gladbeck-Brauck District Office and the Emscher Association, with the active involvement of local residents. Now, the stream once again winds its way in a green corridor through the urban district – this one-time blot on the landscape has become a recreational area.

Engine for progress:

  • Reintegration of the watercourse into the district
  • Development of awareness of natural aquatic ecosystems
  • Adaptation to the effects of climate change by providing cooling and an improved microclimate
  • Enhanced quality of life as a result of upgrading the aquatic environment

1 of 4

Photo: Emschergenossenschaft

The Hahnenbach as it was before: certainly not a place to relax.

Experiencing water: fun, excitement and tranquillity

Since 2011, it has been possible to rediscover the stream at seven points along the restored watercourse. Fords allow daring stream crossings, quotation stones stimulate contemplation and daydreaming, light installations (literally!) shine a spotlight on the water and groups from nurseries and schools – as well as other interested visitors – can enjoy lively lessons by the stream in the open-air “Blue Classroom”. It has become an area for discovering nature and relaxing, with an obvious positive impact on the quality of life of local people.

The educational elements are supported by learning materials relating to the “magical world of water” provided by the Emscher Association. The youngest residents of the “New Emscher Valley” can use them to learn about all the things that water can do, all the animals and plants living in it and how the water makes its way through the city and through nature.

An intact ecosystem reduces the effects of climate change

The ecosystem surrounding the stream is now intact again, and can develop naturally. Where the waste water disappears under the ground as a result of the ecological restructuring work, there is now scope for natural water courses to form on the surface and new areas for public recreation for local people. Biodiversity has also improved, as has the overall resilience of the system. New drainage areas and cooling effects specifically lessen the impacts of climate change (such as heavy rainfall and heat islands), which – alongside improved quality of life – is an added bonus for the urban district and its inhabitants.

Not just for, but also through the urban district

The district office got local people involved in the project through a range of hands-on activities. In a competition, children from Brauck designed a total of 63 roosters – the winner entries were made into sculptures and can now be seen along the waterside adventure trail. Activities like this have helped to further strengthen identification with the district and the Hahnenbach as an important part of it.

Photo: private

“It makes me happy to see lots of groups of children exploring and playing at the stopping points along the Hahnenbach. When planning the ‘Our Hahnenbach’ project, the aim was for people to join in – and you can see that in the result.”

Sebastian Ortmann, Emschergenossenschaft Office for Urban and Regional Development

Partners and sponsors

  • Stadt Gladbeck
  • Einrichtungen wie Schulen und Kitas in Gladbeck Brauck
  • Bürgerinnen und Bürger aus Gladbeck Brauck
  • Ministerium für Bauen, Wohnen, Stadtentwicklung und Verkehr (MBWSV)
  • Ministerium für Klimaschutz, Umwelt, Landwirtschaft, Natur- und Verbraucherschutz (MKULNV)