Preservation of historic industrial sites

Funding of adaptive reuse* isn’t priceless, but it is borderless. (*Adaptive reuse is the process of reusing a place (usually old) for a purpose other than which it was originally intended).

Many prominent sites in Lodz, Poland’s third largest city, are undergoing an intensive phase of urban renewal. I experienced this on a recent trip there.

Poland-map1http://iso.uni.lodz.pl/informacje/city-of-lodz

The city was, during the C19th and C20th, an industrial metropolis and one of Europe’s major textile capitals – at its height supporting numerous large factory complexes.

unnamedhttp://www.google.com/culturalinstitute

Due to the wealth of the city at its peak in the mid-late 1800s and early 1900s, many superb buildings were constructed. The most prominent of these have a very distinctive Art Nouveau influence – as can be seen along the city’s central Piotrkowska Street, for example.

In World War II, the Nazis didn’t destroy the city and its architecture – as they did with much of the rest of Poland – because of the value of Lodz’s industrial hardware. Instead, Lodz was annexed to Germany as part of the Warthegau – the Germans renaming the city Litzmannstadt.

Many grand parts of the city’s built fabric are now being given a second life, after decades of deterioration under the Communist era. This is most prominently seen in the remediation and adaptive reuse of several of the city’s largest factory sites, including the former spinning mill (see below) of the once enormous Scheibler Factory complex.

fabryka_na_ksiezym_mlynie_loft_apartshttp://www.loftaparts.com/history

In the case of the spinning mill and the Scheibler site more broadly, remediation work is being undertaken with Aussie dollars.

The world is indeed a small place.

DSCN0237The plaque says “Scheiblers – the historic factory division revitalised by the Australian developer……”. A. Anderson, 2012.

DSCN0234Part of the front facade of the redeveloped Scheibler spinning mill. A. Anderson, 2012.

The Scheibler Factory adaptive reuse by Opal Property Developments is just one part of a very expansive land acquisition in Lodz by this company. According to a piece written in Purpose magazine by Opal’s Dorota Urawska in 2006, the company purchased a 21 hectare tract of land, much of which had/has dilapidated industrial structures on it. Part of this 21 hectares contains the above-described Scheibler spinning mill redevelopment. The remaining sites include a former power plant and former warehouses.

The company is seeking to develop its other land holdings for residential use and for large scale commercial and cultural venues. No doubt this developer has kept a keen eye on the evolution of the Manufaktura complex in another part of the city – also the site of a remediated former textile factory.

Interestingly, Lodz is a candidate for the title of European Capital of Culture 2016. If you find yourself with a bit of free time on your hands in central Poland, have a look at the city’s architectural re-invigoration – you might also spot some of the more than 20 giant street artworks on the sides of buildings in the centre of the city.

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