In the post-industrial era city-forming enterprises in single-industry towns reduce production or close. This not only leads to unemployment, hectares of real estate are also declining. However, abandoned industrial areas have a great potential for development and revitalisation. Revitalisation in turn, would positively affect the life of the city and its economy and also create new jobs. Industrial facilities have features that make them a valuable material and an emotional resource for the development of post-industrial cities. I’m interesed in the theme of revitalisation of industrial zones of cities, so I’ve read many books and articles related to this topic. And in this post I would like to summarize the information I’ve received about the potential of unused industrial facilities.
1. Inactive land and building fund.
The emergence of unused urban spaces within the city and the presence of a development fund offers various opportunities for their use. Moreover, it allows you to move from extensive development scenarios to a model of a compact city and its development by compacting urban fabric (Fig. 1).
2. Spacious rooms.
Industrial buildings are basically large-span rooms with high ceilings (5 m or more) (Fig. 2). This is a scarce resource that is in high demand in the conditions of a post-industrial urban economy.
3. Advanced engineering communications.
Industrial facilities are well supplied with engineering communications. Usually, there are electricity, water and heat supply, own boiler houses and transformer substations. The supplied capacities should be enough to maintain the most saturated functional program in case of revitalisation of the facility. In addition, it will make the revitalisation much cheaper.
4. Unusual industrial landscape.
Industrial landscape within the territories of industrial facilities has developed with its own relief features and an abundance of various artifacts: equipment, units and techology (cranes, lifts, containers etc.) (Fig. 3). In the process of improvement all this can be used to create unique and attractive public and recreational spaces for citizens.
5. Location benefits.
Location benefits are not always the potential of industrial areas. However, for many industries constant access to water is required. That’s why industrial facilities are often located near watercourses. That creates additional opportunities for increasing the functional diversity of the public and recreational spaces located here.
6. Transport accessibility.
The need to bring raw materials or components and ready to use products, as well as to ensure the daily movement of employees from home to work and back in the case of industrial enterprises means a high degree of transport accessibility. Industrial spaces imply developed road network, railway lines and established public transport routes.
7. Special planning structure.
Industrial facilities are located in isolated territories. Many of them are kind of ‘a city within a city’, like medieval monasteries or fortresses. In conjunction with the scale and monumentality of the spaces, the industrial landscape with an abundance of unusual artifacts, monuments of industrial architecture (if any) etc. Such isolation makes the environment of industrial objects very emotional and can turn them into independent city sights.
8. High level of local identity.
The history of many industrial facilities is closely linked with the history of the cities. Especially that is important for monotowns, where both of these stories are inseparable. Labor veterans retain emotional attachment to the factory or a plant where they have spent many years of life. The rootedness of such objects in the local cultural tradition means their high potential for revitalisation from the standpoint of continuity and connection of generations.
9. Openness to Experimental Practices.
The size, unusualness and isolation of industrial objects from the urban environment means that they can freely take on non-standard forms of leisure or creative practices, which for various reasons have no place in the city: extreme sports, noisy public events, non-standard forms of leisure, modern art, handicraft creative production etc.
- Cantacuzino, S. (1975), New Uses for Old Buildings, London: The Architectural Press.
- Cantacuzino, S. (1989), Re/Architecture: Old Buildings/New Uses, New York: Abbeville Press.