Intensive Programme "Strategies to re-evaluate
our industrial heritage"
Our architectural and urban heritage mirrors the development of our ideas, our culture, our society, thus making it an important part of our European history. This includes monuments
of high culture, for instance a medieval castle or a Rennaissance church, as much as the Industrial Revolution and its sites
of every-day life, such as workplaces and workers´ homes.
Developing strategies to re-evaluate our industrial heritage is a manifold enterprise. It is dedicated very much to our history and culture, and is also very much involved with the contemporary architectural and urban discourse in order to provide responses to economical end ecological questions we will have to find solutions for in the future.
Developing such strategies to re-evaluate our industrial heritage is the intention of an Intensive Programme co-funded by the European Community and the six participating schools of Architecture, Urbanism and Planning from Aveiro, Budapest, Frankfurt am Main, Milan, Seville and Warsaw.
The industrial realities and their potentialities
Although a greater understanding of the importance of the industrial past for our cultural community can be encountered nowadays, its protection and restoration is still an ardeous enterprise. Too often both the former workers and the broader public misperceive industrial realities exclusively as working places: loud, polluted and unhealthy. A misperception often shared by architects, urban planners and politicians when they disgustedly talk of "Zersiedelung, Siedlungsbrei, Unstadt, Suburbia, Verschnittlandschaft" (several synonyms for the phenomenon of urban sprawl). This misperception obstructs the potentials industrial settlements have.
These potentials include the availability of spaces left behind by industrialization, which are simple and therefore very flexible and usable; buildings designed by proud industrialists and fairly often by well known architects; buildings which can become most fascinating stages for new uses providing a particular character; they can also offer spaces between the industrial remains, receiving various forms of spontaneous vegetation; as well as many small relics of the times of industrial use, which can become references for those searching for their own history and identity.
These are the very potentials, which can become the motor in a transformation process from an industrial landscape to a cultural landscape, as Karl Ganser, former Managing Director of the International Building Exhibition Emscher Park, underlines.
This requiers reviewing our approaches towards protection and restoration of
the industrial heritage in theory and practice - which is the first intention
of the Intensive Programme "Strategies to Re-evaluate our
The industrial realities and the city (and city-region) of the early 21st Century
Elaborating and testing strategies to re-evaluate the industrial heritage does not only mean learning how to save this so important past for the present and future. It means at the same time thinking about the urban and architectural development of the city of the early 20th Century and its future. A fact is, that as close as the cities were bound to the booming industries in the beginning of the 20th Century and up to the 1960´s, as close the cities of today are bound to the fundamental changes the same industries are having to face since then.
Or with the words of Karl Ganser: "The early dynamics of industrial growth, which were in effect after the war and until the sixties, have been supplanted by the dynamics of differentiation, its most obvious result being the widely practised creation or outsourcing of services outside the actual production process. The connections and their impact on urban structures still have not been properly investigated. The process of labour division and differentiation which is the most dynamic and at the same time least controllable aggregate of highly sophisticated societies (.) is at the same time the aggregate which is most clearly legible in the ongoing urban structural changes, in their infrastructures and diverse architecture."
This process of labour division and differentiation can be a problem as much
as a great chance, if new enterprises can be attracted to move in. In times,
where many cities and regions do not grow anymore, the built industrial environments
can be a most valuable resource in this process. This requires a review of our
strategies to develop the city of the 21st Century as well as an investigation
of the role that our industrial heritage can play in this development - which
is the second intention of the Intensive Programme "Strategies to Re-evaluate
our Industrial Heritage".
The strategy of a 'qualitative growth'
Very closely related is the need for developing an ecological and economical strategy of "qualitative growth", or in the terminology of the Rio environmental summit, a "sustainable regional development", a strategy we absolutely need to implement. The basic elements of both the urbanistic and architectural, and theecological and economical strategies are, once again referring to Karl Ganser, "no further area-covering with buildings, but the transition to a cycle econmy in land utilization; prolongation of the operational life-span of buildings and production facilities through maintenance, modernization, and adaption to new uses; new constructions and extensions only according to ecological principles; transformation of production processes (.), aiming at environmentally friendly products and production methods".
These are the primary premises and intentions of the Intensive Programme "Strategies to Re-evaluate our Industrial Heritage", introduced on the following pages in more detail under the title "Reworking