EUROPEAN INDUSTRIAL AND ENGINEERING HERITAGE AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF CURRENT CHALLENGES IN DEFINING HERITAGE AND ITS USES | PIERRE LACONTE
As European industry has globalized and shifted production to emerging countries, it has left high unemployment and many shuttered production plants in its wake. This trend, coupled with declining birth rates in most countries, will lead to a decline in population in the European Union (EU). By 2050, economists project that the EU will comprise just 5 percent of the world’s population.
In spatial terms, this means that the EU’s industrial cities will shrink. The Berlinbased Shrinking Cities International Research Network, founded in 2004 by Phillip Oswald, conducts and disseminates research on the social, economic, environmental, cultural, and land-use issues of shrinking cities. It analyzes the contributory factors and recommends appropriate interdisciplinary policies to address the phenomenon of shrinking industrial cities, ranging from ‘‘green’’ strategies (including phytoremediation) to ‘‘blue’’ tools (using water as conservation).
Derelict industrial buildings and engineering monuments, sometimes called ‘‘the cathedrals of the industrial age,’’ are a form of architectural heritage that attracts increasing attention. Indeed, while churches, civic monuments, and castles have enjoyed attention since the early nineteenth century, the growing stock of abandoned industrial buildings and engineering monuments have only recently begun attracting interest.
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