That industrial production facilities are closing or moving
to other parts of the word is a widespread phenomenon happening before our
eyes. But nevertheless, they can be regarded as a new form of cultural
heritage. As physical relics, they function both as mirrors and places of
remembrance. Through the isolation of these areas from the other functions of
the city, industrial areas have not only been separated in a functional and physical
way, but also cultural. However, in the prose of de-industrialisation the focus
lays with the area that are no longer viable in today’s production-oriented
economy. The leavings of industry are an increasingly striking part of the
urban landscape. They are so deeply embedded in its structures, economy, social
and cultural affairs that they function as a mirror of society1.
Does the “capital”city of the 21st century already exist? And where will we
find the physical expression of this city? The immense problem and their
potentials, caught the attention of European urban planners and architects and
landscape-architects with the transformation of central, former industrial
areas in Paris into new parks Like Parc de la Villette and Duisburg-Nord in
Germany, which is part of the IBA Emscher Park initiative.
In the Ruhr situation, the
leavings were so massively evident that the transformation had been done with
ultimate care, it had to take place based upon them. The sense of understanding
the leavings as potential cultural heritage has two meanings. They form a historical foundation for
projecting a new horizon and because they are not just history2. The abended
areas are associated with the lives and the work of a large proportion of the population.
Their meanings and how we experience them
is licked with our understanding of what cultural heritage is. Our
understanding of what cultural heritage is, can be reduced to the question “What
is meaningful, and for whom?”. Therefore, the relics related with the decays of
industry become potential object for a new form of cultural heritage. The
consideration between preservation or destruction must be made at all time. Noting
is predefined, but re-use and transformation of what already exist become
licked. This defines the new interpretations of what cultural heritage is.
In Paris were the releases of
these area seen as central situated sites where new activities could be
developed around new parks in order to help Paris turn from the iconic,
historical capital of the 19th century into the new financial headquarter of
Europe. In fact, Parc de la Villette represented a site for one of President François
Mitterand his presitige projects and became the center of numerous polemics3 .
He had the ambition and saw the potential to leave his mark on the Parisian
cityscape. Its objectives were to mark the vision of an era, but also act as a catalyser
for the future economic and cultural development of the area. It was Barré, supervisor
of the design competition, who was looking for a site able to host the multifaceted
ways of producing and manifesting culture in a metropolitan context faced with
uncertainty and plurality, qualities that are here viewed as positive and worth
la Villette became a park was secondary for him.
4 Barzilay, Hayward,
Lombard-Valentino 1984: 17