Younger industrial areas as experimental zones for urban innovation

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Walks, mappings, and interviews show that the activities in younger industrial zones in Denmark are much more complex than the mono-functional enclaves planned. The areas represent a legacy of the functionalistic paradigm, which creates the morphology of the urban landscape built from the 1950’s onwards but is not considered a part of the cultural aesthetic understanding of the city. The current transformation is rooted in social, political and economic dynamics, difficult to predict, often shaped on a global level, yet with a strong local impact.
The mappings are inspired by the five objectives developed by Tom Nielsen, Thomas Clemmensen, and Morten Daugaard in the article: Qualifying urban Landscapes (2010): Appropriation, cohabitation, diversity, connectivity, and porosity. They are conducted in three different urban situations and reveal the areas different qualities and a diversity of people, activities, biodiversity and local entrepreneurship that may not be seen at first glance and would be difficult to find space for elsewhere.
The idea is that portraying the actual situation of the areas and qualities are a crucial asset in this transformation process. It also focuses on dynamics between the actors (human and non-human) and the possibility of creating collaborations between the actors with a focus on future urban common qualities. This can be a way to address uncertainty and open the opportunity of the areas to become an important asset in the future biodiversity, experiences of nature and economies of towns, the labor market, innovation, and civilian diversity.
The poster develops a deeper understanding of one of the preliminary findings. The one that these areas seem to give spaces for new kinds of urban entrepreneurship and experiments. Awareness of this capacity addresses the question of how to plan for these areas in the future.
The finding is learned through three case studies in different urban situations. They are discovered through site-walks, mappings, and interviews. These data show that the area‘s activities are much more complex than just traditional production. The registered activities are diverse and include e.g. dance projects, karate clubs, senior communities, yoga and massage, a used good marked, a fitness center and a local brewery. This kind of change of industrial areas from being areas of production to new kinds of neighborhoods is seen before. Often the changes are initiated by artists, and later the area goes through gentrification establishing it as a new stable area in the city. But unlike these former examples, the younger industrial areas have something else is at stake. It is not attracting artists or the creative class, but rather a wide range of local entrepreneurs with broad background and profile. Also, instead of being appreciated, these initiatives are often regarded by the planning authorities as mistakes and need dispensations from the regulations as the areas are designated for more traditional production. However, taking this position might miss that these areas have already changed and that they could be seen as a free zone for experiments for local citizens and entrepreneurs with everyday dreams.
It is therefore not just relevant to create a portrait of the current actual situation, but also to discuss the conflicts between the qualities of the existent and the possibilities of the new. The arguments take the point of departure in Michel Foucault‘s notion of heterotopia and the notion of porosity developed by Paola Vigano and is supported with tests of different design strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCA²RE Berlin Proceedings : Conference for Artistic and Architectural (Doctoral) Research
Number of pages2
PublisherUniversitätsverlag der TU Berlin
Publication dateMay 2019
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-7983-3060-3
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
EventCA2RE: Conference for Artistic and Architectural (Doctoral) Research - TU Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 28 Sept 20181 Oct 2018


LocationTU Berlin


  • heterotopia
  • urban planning
  • porosity
  • industrial districts
  • landscape architecture

Artistic research

  • No

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