Accepted paper:

Inclusive public space: reuse of former industrial buildings as cultural arenas


Grete Swensen (Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses whether reuse of former industrial sites as new cultural arenas can provide alternative physical places of social encounter and public spaces that can enhance social and ethnic inclusion. It questions whether a correlation exists between paramount municipal policy and practical results.

Paper long abstract:

Many post-industrial sites have gradually become integrated in the larger urban fabric and have ended up being centrally located. Urban densification and the demand for development and building sites increase the attractiveness of these areas and instigated private-public partnership in planning. The cultural/creative sector view such sites as inspiring environments for creative activities. This paper will direct special attention to the potential which reuse of old industrial buildings hold as a contributing source to people's health and wellbeing. Some Norwegian urban municipalities use cultural policy as a strategic means in their welfare policy - an instrument for ensuring inclusion across social, economic and ethnic boundaries. Establishing alternative cultural arenas is one such instrument. Young people need ways to express their identity and to stimulate their artistic creativity. Despite the initial language problems experienced by some of the users, such cultural arenas enable many to use and share their practical and tacit knowledge brought from their homelands (through handicraft, art, music, dance, cookery). Personal interaction across ethnic and national borders can contribute to remove potential scepticism between people who belong to different nationalities. Through creativity, inventiveness and limited resources new user groups often manage to rejuvenate these premises, hereby turning them into interesting places to visit. Based on a closer examination of two Norwegian cases, the paper will discuss the degree of correlation between paramount municipal policy and practical results. The results will be viewed in light of a broader discussion of what signifies the qualifying elements in public space.

panel Urba006
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