BETTER Cologne THAN Düsseldorf?

I love Düsseldorf, I really do. It’s my hometown and the place where I grew up and lived for 23 years. But there was always one thing what I don’t like about this city: the snobbish way of living and how Düsseldorf presents itself by this. There is always a big fight between Düsseldorf and Cologne. I think it all started through sports, especially ice hockey and soccer.

Düsseldorf is famous for fashion, the Kö and the “Altstadt” – it is called the longest bar in the world. Because the bars and pubs are so close together that it could be seen as one big pub. Cologne was always famous for being more open (especially when it comes to homosexuality), it is cooler (better parties) and Cologne has the cathedral. They even fight for who has the better beer: Kölsch or Alt-Bier.

In most cases I stick to Düsseldorf and would totally defeat it against any comparisons to Cologne. But when it comes to new uses of city space and constructing new buildings, you loose Düsseldorf, badly!


But now I got really pissed off. Düsseldorf was always the snobbish, arrogant city and once more the city proofs it with a new building which is supposed to be finished next year at the end of the Königsallee. The name: Kö-Bogen (translated “the Kö-arch”), designed by Daniel Libeskind. It is a mixture of retail space and offices. Or how they call it themselves: “a lifestyle-placemaker for flagship stores, fancy gastronomy concepts and exclusive offices”, yeah right! Just take a look at the words: fancy, exclusive – that’s exactly what I dislike about it.

The Kö-Bogen has many critics. The building was completely planned without any participation of the public. And it was also criticized that there was almost no real call for bids. But that’s not enough. There is also a huge fight with parts of Düsseldorf’s citizens, because the new Kö-Bogen will oust the traditional “Tausendfüssler”, a short inner-city high-line.


Cologne proofed it could be done differently. They always has been “a problem” with skaters at the Roncalliplace with skaters. The public square infront of the cathedral was a long time the only place to skate in Cologne. But the city came together with the skaters, sat down and planned something with the architects metrobox and designed a modern urban skatepark which could also be attractive to the local residents. The project is amazing. You should definitely jump over to mocoloco and read about the whole project. And the best thing: it all worked out.

“When the site was opened, it was clear what a great success this collaboration of different parties was going to be. The skaters took possession of the square right from the outset and it has been full of people every day ever since. However, it’s not just for skaters that the facility has paid off.
The Rheinpromenade, too, has since been full of pedestrians who watch the skaters performing their feats. The previously lifeless area of the new construction quarter, Rheinauhafen, has suddenly become full of life. The square has activated and urbanised an extensively planned and constructed quarter that was not yet part of the city.
A hybrid space has been created which is both a sports facility and an urban square.”

It is amazing to see what can be done if you work properly together with all involved groups. This project made everyone happy, great!

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  • Guido

    I really love Düsseldorf, too. But I´m disappointed about the same things as you write in your article.
    Düsseldorf is such a nice place to be and there are lots of nice peolple not living the snobbish way of life. But the city´s face is another. There is no place for individual projects. Everything new in public space has to be clean and “fancy”. But I think most of the projects that are in process will not be fancy but impersonel and characterless. It´s the wrong way to make a city more famous.

  • Markus Reuter

    @Guido Couldn’t agree more. The impersonal and characterless part of Düsseldorf is really big. Also a reason why projects like Captain Flingern and clubs like Unique are/were really successful. People need different stuff than the snobbish way of life!

  • Ciro

    Living in Cologne for almost 2 years now, I cannot understand why 2 large cities like DUS and CGN are so much stuck in this oldfashioned competition. As you describe pretty well, one is the rather posh and stylish one and the other one is more casual and worn. That´s great and that´s what I like so much.

    When it comes to urban planning I always had the impression that Düsseldorf was litte more organized and willing to suceed. But what we can see here definitely is the most replaceable building ever. Could be anywhere – why not design spots, buidlings and place that become relevant to people because the ARE for people?
    Must it always be Business, Business, Business?

  • Markus Reuter

    @Ciro I guess the rivalry began through sports, like mentioned above. Have you ever been to a Ice Hockey game “DEG vs. Kölner Haie”? There you can see it. And those two cities are really close by. There are several cities where you see such rivalry, especially in sports, like Bremen vs. Hamburg.
    And on top you have the different beer types. And as long as it is on an reasonable level it is quite amusing, but I’ve seen different things already!
    And what you said about the architecture, I totally agree!

  • Hakiga

    Hey, unfortunately you are right. I’m living in Düsseldorf since 20 years. Everything that changed went into the direction to be clean, boring, in a way stylish, but cold.
    The Kö-bogen is a bad example of a consum and money oriented future.
    On the other hand we have this very cool promenade at the Rhine, which is not snobbish but just nice to sit in the evening. … and some old parts, which are nice too, like
    I guess Düsseldorf is not lost at all. Cheer up.

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BETTER Cologne THAN Düsseldorf?