Welcome to Wuppertal!

Have you ever been here? Well, even if you haven’t, you may already have heard of the city’s world-famous landmark: the Wuppertal suspension railway (‘Schwebebahn’). Or of the renowned dance company Tanztheater Pina Bausch, which was founded in Wuppertal. And did you know that Wuppertal is the birthplace of the influential philosopher and revolutionary Friedrich Engels?

With more than 363,000 inhabitants, Wuppertal is the 17th largest town in Germany. Located between Rhineland and Ruhr area, it is the economic and cultural heart of the Bergisches Land region in North Rhine-Westphalia.

In summer 2022, Wuppertal will add a new milestone to its diverse history: The city will host the SDE21, the first German edition of the Solar Decathlon Europe.

● The Wuppertal suspension railway © Malte Reiter

● Wuppertal city © Malte Reiter

Why Wuppertal, you wonder?

The answer is simple: Wuppertal is a city that lives transformation. During the 19th and early 20th century, Wuppertal was the hotspot of the German textile industry. Since then, the city has come a long way. Challenged by important structural, economic and social change, Wuppertal has evolved into a city with a vibrant arts and cultural scene, and a city that embraces change.

‘New ideas, change and progress always have been important in Wuppertal. Think of Friedrich Engels, who founded a new way of politics. Or consider the “Schwebebahn”, our unique means of transport. We’re looking forward to the SDE21, which will change our city into a sort of future lab for everybody. We are curious what ideas will be educed here – ideas, which will hopefully be transformed into chance and progress!’

● Andreas Mucke, Lord Mayor © Medienzentrum Stadt Wuppertal

● An der Fuhr, early 1880s © Wikimedia

●  Postcard, around 1914, ‘Barmen. Neuerweg with suspension railway’ © Wolfgang Sauber | Wikimedia

● Wuppertal 1958 © Ion Tichy | Wikimedia
CC BY-SA 4.0

A young town with history

Wuppertal is considered the cradle of German industrialisation. Its unique location in the valley of the river Wupper and close proximity to valuable coal, silver and ore deposits provided excellent conditions for the emergence of a flourishing textile industry. In the middle of the 19th century, Wuppertal and its surroundings were one of the biggest economic hubs of Germany.

For a long time, the textile industry remained the town’s most important economic driver. However, the 1970s brought on a range of economic and structural changes as large parts of the textile industry moved to Asia due to globalisation. The ensuing crash of the local textile industry and the partial transition from a manufacturing to a service industry left many people without jobs. The following years were marked by substantial losses in businesses, population, and appeal. This led to an increasing municipal debt as new industries did not emerge quickly enough. Between 1970 and 2010, Wuppertal saw its population steadily drop.

A young town with history

Urban change from the bottom-up

In recent years, Wuppertal has slowly begun to re-emerge from the downward spiral it had been trapped in for decades. Unparalleled efforts from local residents, companies, neighbourhood associations, and the municipal administration have brought about a remarkable bottom-up transformation. As a result, Wuppertal’s population has soared and the appeal of the city has greatly increased.

A crucial aspect of this incredible transformation has been sustainability: Wuppertal joined the Climate Alliance / Alianza del Clima e.V. in 1990. In addition, the city has set the target of reducing CO₂ emissions by ten percent every five years and actively promotes efficient and sustainable energy and construction planning.

Taken together, all these factors make Wuppertal the ideal venue for the Solar Decathlon Europe 21 and its numerous activities, events and research projects.

● Skywalk in the North Park, Wuppertal © Malte Reiter

● Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal (Historic Town Hall) © Kessmeyer Consults Ü30

Mirke district

The main event of the SDE21 will take place in June 2022 in Wuppertal’s Mirke district. This unique neighbourhood, which will also host the Solar Campus, will serve as an urban workspace, giving residents and local initiatives the opportunity to bring to life their very own manifold visions of a city that is worth living in.