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Pirmasens „Rheinberger site“


From the shoe and knowledge factory

New uses for the areas of media, services and medical care, as well as hotel and gastronomy, are moving to the former shoe production plant owned by Rheinberger. The core is the Science Center (called the "Dynamikum"), a national tourist attraction.


Blick auf die ehemalige Schuhfabrik während der UmbaumaßnahmenSource: Stadt Pirmasens

The development history of the City of Pirmasens (population 43,000) is closely connected to the shoe industry. Because of the dependence on this industry, the city has to cope with the structural consequences of the sustained slowdown of the shoe industry in Germany.

In 1960, the shoe industry employed 30,000 people in 187 companies. At present there are 28 companies with around 1,000 employees. The closure of an American military base in the 1990s led to a loss of another thousand jobs. The consequences of these developments are a continual fall in population, an above-average unemployment rate and loss of purchasing power. In the inner city area, in particular, high vacancy rates for residential and commercial properties are becoming noticeable.

From 2002 to 2007, the City of Pirmasens was a pilot city in the ExWoSt research "Stadtumbau West" (Urban Redevelopment West). The Rheinberger complex was an initiating project. It set the first sign that Pirmasens can deal with the structural change.

Project description

Blick auf die ehemalige Schuhfabrik nach den Umbaumaßnahmen Blick auf die ehemalige Schuhfabrik nach den UmbaumaßnahmenSource: Stadt Pirmasens

What used to be the Rheinberger company's largest shoe factory in Germany has now become one of the most important symbols of the shoe city Pirmasens. As a result of its prominent inner city location, the building known as the "Rheinberger" represents the symbol of los Pirmasens wealth.

A donation from the Rheinberger family, and the inclusion of the city in the ExWoSt research project "Stadtumbau West" resulted in an unexpected development push for the building complex, which had stood largely empty since the 1980s.

This inner city commercial site has been reactivated with this project. High quality uses from the media, services and medical care areas have relocated to this building. A hotel and restaurant have also opened. By the end of 2007, long-term rental agreements had been concluded for around 60 % of the 13,000 sq.m. of commercial space. Since March 2008, the City of Pirmasens itself has been operating the first Science Center in Rhineland-Palatinate. The "Dynamikum" is involved in the subject of "movement". From a tourism perspective, it acts as a "lighthouse project", thereby supporting the city's attempts to deal with the structural change.

The project was realised in the form of a public-private partnership. An investor was found within the framework of an EU-wide tender process. An extensive contract, comprising an urban development contract, a purchase contract and Articles of Association, was concluded between city and investor in 2006.

The rateably shared total investment in the "Rheinberger" complex and in the direct surrounding area totals more than EUR 25 million.

Project chronology

2002Donation from the Rheinberger family
2002Inclusion in the ExWoSt research project Stadtumbau West
2003Implementation of safety and planning measures in and to the building
2003Creation of a use concept
2003Research for defining the redevelopment area
2004Formal definition of the redevelopment area
2004Investor search
2005"Science Center" planning phase
2006Public-private partnership in the form of a project company between city and investor
2006Start of development measures
2007The first tenants move in
2008Science Center "Dynamikum" opens


  • Reactivation of and subsequent use of an industrial building
  • Excitement in the economy and population
  • Inclusion of the project in the general urban development process
  • Incentive for private investments
  • Job creation

Types of measures

Blick in den neu gestalteten Rheinberger GebäudekomplexSource: Stadt Pirmasens

  • Planning and safety measures in and to the building
  • Definition of a redevelopment area around the building
  • Creation of a use concept
  • Investor search
  • Project-based foundation of a company by city and investor
  • Renovation and extension measures
  • Marketing of the space


Blick auf die ehemalige Schuhfabrik nach den UmbaumaßnahmenSource: Stadt Pirmasens

The project succeeded in filling the former production plant of the Rheinberger company, one of the most important symbols of the shoe city Pirmasens, with new life. For the city this is a visible sign of a successful structural change.

The use a contract succeeded in involving a private investor in the redevelopment of the industrial wasteland and also in obtaining private funds from foundations and donations. A well-conceived use concept, which relies on an attractive leisure offer with a unique character (Science Center "Dynamikum"), completes the approach towards dealing with the structural change.


  • City of Pirmasens: Final report on the ExWoSt research project Stadtumbau West 2002 – 2007 (unpublished)
  • City of Pirmasens: "Bewegung im Rheinberger" (Movement in the Rheinberger) brochure

Further information

Poject site on Google-Maps: Pirmasens - Rheinberger Areal

The projekt site ist to be found at postal code: 66954 - town: Pirmasens - street: Schachenstraße/Fröhnstraße.

Last update: 05.03.2018

Additional Information


  • Project coordination "Dynamikum", Stadtverwaltung Pirmasens, Rolf Schlicher, Tel.: 06331/84-2526,
  • Bundestransferstelle Stadtumbau West, FORUM GmbH, Donnerschweer Str. 4, 26123 Oldenburg, Tel.: 0441/98059-22, Email:

Record inserted on 07.04.2009 by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) within the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR).


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