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Heerlen [Netherlands]


Since 1955, this city has maintained special relations with Liège, as well as three other cities as part of the Meuse-Rhine Euro-region, referred to as the MAHHL cities (Maastricht, Aachen, Hasselt, Heerlen et Liège).


Heerlen, a city with a population of 95,000, located in the Dutch province of Limburg, was greatly affected in the 1960's by the coal crisis. However, it managed to bounce back thanks to investment in new technology and new industries.

It was elected the "greenest Dutch city" in 2004 and boasts many tourist attractions that host a multitude of cultural events.

Today, visitors can discover the Roman origins of the city at the Spa Museum. In addition, they can discover many examples of modern architecture, such as the impressive "Glaspaleis" (the glass palace) designed by M. Peutz.

Its university is called the "Open Universiteit".

Heerlen has also launched an ambitious project called IBA Parkstad 2020. IBA stands for Internationale BauAusstellung (international architecture exhibition) and was created in 1901 in Germany in Darmstadt. Today, IBA can draw from a century of successes which have all been carried out in Germany in the reconversion of sites, municipalities and regions. IBA Parkstadt is the first IBA experiment outside Germany's borders. It has become the symbol of a creative and participatory approach that gives an economic boost to the towns, cities and regions that implement it. The tangible proof of this is the physical changes undergone by the town, city or region. However, it is also important to take account of the cultural change in the ways of thinking, working and promoting the towns, cities or regions. This gives rise to renewed pride that in turn creates fertile and attractive conditions for investment. IBA provides organisational advice for reconversion. It seeks out innovative and forward-looking projects that are sustainable for development of the town, city or region. IBA does not take part in construction itself, but it does create the processes used as a basis for new directions aimed at changing society. IBA thus contributes to improving towns, cities or regions by calling upon the support of citizens, who are the main people concerned, via organised participatory processes. IBA has met with resounding success in Emscherpark, Sachsen-Anhalt, Berlin, Hamburg and Heidelberg. IBA Parkstad is the first edition that will take place outside Germany.

Heerlen is part of Parkstad, which is a sort of "urban community" bringing together 8 municipalities: Heerlen, Kerkrade, Landgraaf, Brunssum, Voerendaal, Simpelveld, Nuth and Onderbanken. Parkstad has a population of approximately 250,000. Out of the 8 partner municipalities, two stand out through there larger size: Heerlen and Kerkrade.

In 2013, the municipalities that make up "Parkstad" decided to host an IBA. As part of this process, the can count on the support of the Limburg Province. Since July 2014, organisation and holding of the IBA are managed by SPRL IBA Parkstad.