From Production to Consumption
Post-industrial Conversions – From production to consumption_Richard Ingersoll
Almost all of the cities in the developed world, even precious historic sites such as Venice, underwent drastic transformations after the introduction of industrial machinery. Train yards, factories, warehouses, mobile cranes, and working class tenements, were reproduced everywhere, radically subverting the cohesion of traditional urban fabric. Aside from this generally negative impact on urban form, during the current age of Climate Change, one tends to chastise industrial civilization for its dominant role in the excessive buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses. Paul Crutzen and many other authoritative proponents of the theory of the Anthropocene mark the origin of this new geological period at 1784 with the introduction of James Watt’s steam engine. That the Industrial Revolution generated an unmatched creation of wealth, while producing unmitigated environmental and social calamities, goes without saying, but what critics often overlook is the profound architectural and urban impact of industry. Already in 1825 when Karl Friedrich Schinkel was sent by the Prussian state to investigate the transformation of Manchester he noted in his correspondence and drawings the dramatic alteration in scale and the relentless expediency of the new industrial estates. The factories and warehouses of industry stretched both horizontally and vertically many times beyond the standard dimensions of the European gothic lot of two bays and three to four stories. The earliest examples appeared like castles or palaces, but soon the building type lost all claims to glamour and assumed a tough functionalist demeanor. More critical for the urban situation, the industrial compounds imposed the first modern urban enclaves, and while there had been some precedents in Europe, such as medieval convents and hospitals, they were nothing on the scale of 19th century industrial interventions, which left enormous patches of the city, such as the AEG company’s settlement in the Moabit district of Berlin built under the guidance of Peter Behrens during the first decades of the 20th century, or the colossal FIAT factory in Turin, which extends half a kilometer without interruption. Factories became significant impediments in the urban fabric. The multiple train lines serving them and their extensive territories led to the chopping up of city form, dividing and segregating areas for work from areas for life. After the 1960s, however, which saw a fundamental switch in urban economies from production to consumption, the subsequent post-industrial conversions of industrial compounds, often proposed as a compensation for the damage wrought by industrialization, encouraged their opening up to the city with specific attention to accessibility.
Adaptive Use of Industrial Architecture: Reinventing the abandoned and the neglected_Heidi Saarinen
In our urban environments; local, national and global – on all continents – we see increased juxtapositions between the existing, and the new, the innovative and even the (what may appear as) impulsive, or outlandish. Each neighbourhood has their own gems, whether they are rogue or hidden, or even long forgotten, run down or demolished. We must remember that people have connections to buildings and that buildings have served in a different capacity in the past, then may have been left to step back to make way for the new and the bigger, the bolder or economically or politically more viable architecture and infrastructure. Whilst many buildings have been demolished and replaced by new schemes, many remain on death row awaiting demolition, or if lucky; a new future, a new purpose, a total repair and reinvention.
Industrial buildings can be particularly challenging, however many rewarding and successful projects are derived from the original use of buildings and their heritage. Industrial buildings are particularly interesting due to their robustness and large open plan spaces, inviting opportunities. In this essay, I discuss some of these projects; industrial buildings that are reinvented for new use, whilst respectfully celebrating their architectural and industrial heritage.