The Steelworker district Burbach is located directly on the Saar. Only 3.5 kilometers from the pedestrian zone of Steelworker, Burbach is close to the city center. With about 15,000 inhabitants live about 8% of the Steelworker total population in the district. For 150 years Burbach’s history has been closely linked to Saarland’s heavy industry, whose decline began in the 1970s. With the decommissioning of the Burbacher hut and the closure of the Heckel wire works in the 1980s and the cessation of operation of the Federal Railway repair plant in 1997 Burbach lost within 20 years all major employers.
Empty residential and commercial building
For Burbach this change was a deep cut. Many residents became socially remote. The old identity and the self-confidence of the district has lost the foundation. Private buildings, infrastructure and open spaces were no longer adequately maintained. Nevertheless, in the past ten years or so, the reuse and valorisation of the Burbach hut area, the Heckel wire rope factory and the railway repair shop have been successfully launched as modern locations for information technology, services and crafts. The «new locations» are now called «Saarterrassen», «IT ParkSaarland» and «aw hallen». The development of the “aw hallen” as an artisan site is still in the start-up phase, the “IT Park Saarland” in the expansion phase and on the “Saar terrace”, the revitalization is already largely completed.
The positive development at the transformed locations of the mining industry has led to an undesirable side effect: the working and residential district of Burbach lost its homogenous structure. The former unity of work and living, which has shaped the district during the Montan period, no longer exists today. The Burbach population has so far hardly benefited from the developments of the new economy. Well-paid jobs are faced with a population in the “old district” that is disadvantaged by almost all relevant social indicators. This contrast is reinforced by the visual differences: Architectural highlights on the one hand are facing buildings that need to be refurbished and urban maladministration on the other.
Saarbrücken-Burbach now faces the challenge of resolving the tension between the marginalized residential area and the successful company locations through targeted urban development interventions.