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Colloque 2011 co-organisé par le CILAC : patrimoine industriel : nouvelles politiques urbaines et sens de la reconversion

Industrial Heritage: New Urban Development and the Significance of the Re-use of Industrial Buildings

 International Conference

Laboratoire Récits (EA 3897 - Université de technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard) CILAC (Comité d’information et de liaison pour l’archéologie, l’étude et la mise en valeur du patrimoine industriel) Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication - Direction générale des patrimoines

Belfort, 21-24 September 2011

Call for Papers

Since the development in France, during the 1970s, of a new sensibility towards the industrial heritage, the conversion to new uses of former industrial sites and buildings has emerged as a means of saving this heritage for contemporary society and for generations to come. The creation of industrial museums everywhere is not possible. Consequently, the re-use of industrial buildings as office space, as housing or as places of culture and teaching today represents the main way of conserving the industrial heritage, both in France and elsewhere.

Beyond the preservation and transmission of the historic memory that such buildings represent, their re-use has acquired new virtues and new ambitions of sustainability. After all, if only in terms of long-term economies in energy expenditure, the conservation of an old building and its recycling to accommodate new uses is clearly more reasonable than demolition and new build. In the broader perspective of conservation-lead regeneration, too, the conversion of industrial buildings has demonstrated its efficiency as a powerful lever in the revitalisation of urban territories and in the redefinition of urban identities.

This then is the context for the conference planned for September 2011, jointly organised by the Récits laboratory, by the CILAC, France’s national Industrial Archaeology association, and the Direction des patrimoines (Heritage Directorate) at the French Ministry of Culture. Together, these partners want to look at the issues surrounding contemporary practices of re-using industrial buildings. One of the ambitions of the conference is to draw attention to innovative experiences, whether at the detailed level of the transformation of individual buildings or at the broader level of regeneration programmes concerning whole industrial districts, and to share these experiences as possible models of good practice. The conference will be held at Belfort, a dynamic industrial centre at the heart of Europe, offering possibilities of site visits to illustrate the theoretical discussions.

 The conference will be an interdisciplinary one, welcoming papers from planners, developers, architects, representatives of local authorities, historians, geographers, sociologists, etc. Beyond the necessary monographic and professional approaches, however, the aim of the conference is to cover the field in a pragmatic way, hopefully responding to contemporary social preoccupations. The problematics which the conference intends to address may be summarised under the four following headings

Industrial Heritage and Town Planning

The aim of this first section is to analyse the ways in which what are often described as « brownfield » sites—industrial wastelands in urban environments—are today being taken into consideration in the development of new town-planning policies in major cities in France and elsewhere. In operations of urban regeneration, the affirmation of specific characteristics of historic, industrial or geographical natures is often a vital aspect of these new policies, and here the industrial heritage can often play an essential part in leading regeneration. Taking examples from different metropolitan centres which are inventing such new forms of urbanity today, the aim of the conference is to identify trends and organisational models. What processes are at work—changing uses of a site, its historical analysis, the consultation of the local community, planning procedures...—between the reception of an industrial heritage and its successful integration into newly invented spaces which can underpin new forms of urban and social cohesion?

The Industrial Heritage in Projects of Eco-restructureation: Resource or Obstacle?

Within the framework of sustainable development, the European Council of Spatial Planners has recently argued against the continued extension of urban neighbourhoods: planning efforts should be directed towards a better coherence of existing urban compositions, involving a better articulation between existing spaces and the revitalisation of degraded spaces, such as brownfield sites of departed industry. From this viewpoint of sustainable territorial development, and in order to comply with the new ecological preoccupations that underlie this paradigm, former industrial buildings and sites can be considered as a positive resource and as a tool, both for planners and architects. The conversion of the industrial heritage to new uses emerges as a way of maintaining the links between the past, the present and the future that is recommended by the New Charter of Athens (2003), which aims at defining new models of sustainable development for the cities of Europe. The conference would like to receive papers analysing precise examples of such approaches.

Thirty Years of Industrial Heritage Conversions

Social housing, housing with workshop spaces, luxury flats, theatres, libraries, archive centres, cinema and television studios, university or college facilities, art galleries, museums, « art factories », start-up facilities, offices, retail outlets, shops, cafés, restaurants... Over the last thirty years the contemporary functions that have been (more or less) successfully given shelter in former industrial buildings is astonishing. The time is ripe for a historical overview. Which sectors of the industrial heritage have been favoured by conversion projects and which sectors neglected? What new functions seem to be the most appropriate, both in terms of preserving the specific spaces and volumes of industrial production and in safekeeping the archival and memorial values of the buildings transformed ? How take into account the technical heritage in situ ? How have conversion practices evolved over the past thirty years and who are the actors involved ? How well have the pioneering projects survived and aged ? Is each operation a singular one or, with the benefit of hindsight, do typologies and patterns emerge, both in the types of buildings transformed and in the types of function retained ? What economies do conversion projects offer ? How have these projects been received over time ?

The Meanings of Place in the Practices of Conversion

For the friends of the industrial heritage, the conversion of an industrial building or site is not an end in itself by a necessary step in a process of conservation. But what is to be made of the projects where developers and architects bring new uses to old buildings without due consideration for the building’s past, its technical, economic and social histories? The « genius loci », the spirit of the place, its « character », are all too often inadequately appreciated and sacrificed in the act of conversion. The aim here then is to question these notions of spirit and character, notions which are inevitably multi-faceted. What significance does a former industrial site have and for whom? And how are these perceptions of significance taken into account by those entrusted with the conversion? How, subsequently, is this significance interpreted and shared by new users and neighbours?

Scientific committee :

Bernard André, Centre de recherches historiques (EHESS), Paris, et secrétaire général du CILAC Robert Belot, Université de technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard – Directeur du laboratoire Récits Catherine Chaplain, Mission de l’inventaire général du patrimoine culturel, Direction générale des patrimoines – ministère de la Culture et de la Communication.

Geneviève Dufresne, IUFM du Centre Raphaël Favereaux, Direction de l'Inventaire du Patrimoine à la région Franche-Comté Luc Fournier, Sous-direction des monuments historiques et des espaces protégés, Direction générale des patrimoines – ministère de la Culture et de la Communication. Marina Gasnier, Université de technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard, Récits Florence Hachez-Leroy, Institut universitaire de France, Centre de recherches historiques (EHESS/CNRS), Paris Philippe Henault, Sous-direction de l’architecture, de la qualité des constructions et du cadre de vie, Direction générale des patrimoines – ministère de la Culture et de la Communication. Pierre Lamard, Université de technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard, Récits (EA 3897) Nicolas Pierrot, Direction de l'Inventaire du patrimoine culturel à la région Ile-de-France - Paul Smith, Département du pilotage de la recherche et de la politique scientifique, Direction générale des patrimoines – ministère de la Culture et de la Communication. Proposals for a paper should be sent by e-mail, no later than 15 January 2011, to Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.

The proposals will take the form of a brief summary of the proposed paper (about 3,000 characters) accompanied by a brief curriculum vitae of the author(s) and their precise address.

Deadline for proposed papers : 15 January 2011 Reply by the scientific committee : 15 February 2011 Communication of power-point presentations : 10 September 2011

The costs of travel, accommodation and meals for the speakers at the conference will be covered by the organisers, depending on their budgetary possibilities The texts of the papers will be published in the conference proceedings