Tough buildings, towering chimneys, icy machines… When the roar is far away, when the colors are peeling off, those old factories that once played a pivotal role in the industrial revolution gradually evolved into lonely black and white photos. With the advent of the “Industry 4.0 Era”, the old factories have also become silhouettes with blurred outlines…
These constitute the industrial memory of cities, countries and even nations, witnessing huge and profound changes in the world. Are they worth protecting? How has the ups and downs of the protection process been experienced? Who will rise and fall between man and machine, man and technology…
New experience, infinite surprise
The creative arts are like magic, giving life to the Ruhr industrial area after its nirvana. Located in the Ruhr industrial zone in the central and western part of Germany, it is located in North Rhine-Westphalia, with an area of 4432 square kilometers. The three tributaries of the Rhine River – Ruhr River, Emscher River, Lipa River from the south To the north, go through the area in turn. The industrial development of the Ruhr area has a history of nearly 200 years. As early as 1811, there was a famous large-scale iron and steel complex in Essen. Large-scale coal mining and steel production began in the first half of the 19th century, making the Ruhr area. It has become one of the most famous heavy industrial areas and one of the largest industrial areas in the world, as well as the oldest urban agglomeration in Europe.
On the streets of Berlin, for a tourist from China, its appearance is special. Most of the men who appear in this strict city are tall and straight, with serious looks, while the women are beautiful, elegant and intellectual. If you’ve experienced the solemnity of Turkey, the friendliness of Sweden, the somberness of Poland, or the romance of the Czech Republic, it’s easy to see the difference in Germany, with Berlin more gritty than any other city. During World War II, the Ruhr mining area was an important base for German industry, and its coal and steel production created an economic miracle. Our understanding of many places is inseparable from our imagination, and we naturally imagine the Ruhr industrial area, which is the style of all industrial areas in the world: heavily polluted rivers, billowing smoke from tall chimneys fill the sky, The roads are muddy and dusty, all over the sheds and slums…
The old factory buildings, towering chimneys, derricks, coal washing bunkers, huge steel beams, extended railway tracks, trains carrying goods, these objects of the industrial age are still there, but After being recreated by artistic creativity, they become installation works of art and remain permanently on the earth.
Entering the Industrial Museum, the audience can see the physical and documentary exhibitions of the development history of the German mining industry, and people can enter the dark and deep coal mining area. Arriving at the coal mining area will see natural stone walls, steep iron ladders and mechanical equipment. The exhibition area shows the scene of workers working in the mine. Walk along the steep steps from the Ruhr area museum to the roof of the coal washing plant, and stand on the huge viewing platform to overlook the strange phantom of the entire creative park.
The Duisburg Landscape Park is a creative sample of the Ruhr industrial area. Its predecessor was the old steel factory belonging to the famous Thyssen Steel Company. The artistic and creative transformation has made it a large-scale landscape with the “coal and iron industry landscape” as the background. Public recreational park, visitors who enter the park can choose to participate in various activities. Among them, waste gas tanks have been transformed into training pools for diving clubs, and some factories and warehouses have been transformed into discos and concert halls, where symphony performances are performed with a giant steel smelting furnace as the background.
The “Centennial Hall” is also a creative sample of the Ruhr industrial area. It was converted from the Soflein mine and is a cultural venue in the city of Bochum. Construction of the Sofferline Mine started in 1847 and operated until 1986, and its architecture is stunning. It is now the home of the Ruhr Museum and the PACT Dance Center, the venue for various large-scale concerts and important international conferences, and the centerpiece of the Ruhr Festival, where many works and performances are set against the backdrop of this industrial building. The gas storage tank of Oberhaus is 117.5 meters high and 67.5 meters in diameter. It is the largest gas storage tank in Europe. In 1993, it was converted into the largest exhibition hall in Europe during the construction of the International Architecture Exhibition. In 2001, the “Centennial Hall” was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Labyrinth architecture, dreamy space
The Ruhr area has an efficient and integrated public transport system consisting of subways, buses and trams. Metro and local trains can reach any city in the Ruhr area. A post-industrial region with 53 cities and a population of 5.3 million, it is known as the cultural capital of Europe and was once the center of the continent.
The buildings of the industrialized Ruhr area have now taken on a new look, from medieval churches to museums, concert halls, cinemas, restaurants, observation decks, sports venues and other venues. These landscapes and facilities are located in a 400-kilometer-long industrial heritage tourist belt, most of which can be reached by public transport.
It is admirable artistic vision, daring and ingenuity to transform a mining area with production at a standstill into an artist’s creative work. Every landscape present in the Ruhr industrial area has been carefully designed and decorated. The vast and empty workshop, with its industrial equipment and steel equipment, has been repurposed as a work of art. Looking at the steel frames, cranes, and air hammers from afar, imagine the figures of the workers who were engaged in production here many years ago, and imagine the sound of labor echoing here. Creative arts work their magic in this vast industrial area, and they present a postmodern installation art style in fantasy.
In 1989, the local government established an art company and launched a design competition. A consulting group composed of 18 experts and more than 50 staff formed a team to evaluate the design proposals participating in the competition. More than 70 designs were contested, many architects and artists participated, and opinions were widely solicited, and the winning artist was responsible for the project design. After several years of renovation projects, the creative transformation of the Ruhr area has been completed.
Abandoned blast furnaces, steel mills, coking plants and other relics of the industrial age are presented in a whole new way. The modern cutting-edge art is clearly visible on the huge converted gas tank or blast furnace. Visitors can sit in the former turbine room to drink coffee, participate in club activities in the former coal mine boiler room, and sit in the converted compressor room to listen to musicians playing music.
The ship lifts and attached factories on the canal have been preserved as industrial relics, and a museum with the theme of the canal lift was born. The museum has become an outdoor teaching base for German primary and secondary school students, attracting many children to come. The elevator can also be used for viewing while showing the industrial relics. The large mining field has been transformed into a quiet park and has become the venue for the German art fair. The park still retains the original special mining train and platform.
The cinder hills are covered with dirt and planted with trees and lawns. The cinder is easy to accumulate and form, and can be made into changing terrains, such as winding corridors and high platforms for viewing. The labyrinth garden becomes a place for people to rest.
Artists have boldly innovated and transformed the coal-burning hall into the Red Dot Design Museum. The Red Dot Award is called the Oscars in the field of design. A perfect blend of space and functionality, the 4-storey maze-like building showcases the essence of modern design through original equipment, with bathtubs placed on the sidewalk, bicycle caps suspended from serpentine heating pipes, and beds placed in large beds. on the oven. These objects have won the Red Dot Award (the German Red Dot Award, together with the “IF Award” and the American “IDEA Award”, are called the world’s three major design awards).
reconstruction of ruins
German industrial creativity is rich and broad. In 2001, the coal mine of the Customs Union was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 1986, the site was identified as a cultural link, with museums, performance venues, art studios, cafés and a unique sports field. At the center is a beautiful Bauhaus building that used to be a coal washing plant and is now the main museum and visitor center. Here, you can start your journey with a giant outboard escalator that points your way forward like a giant orange arrow. You can also roam the Customs Union area, where dozens of industrial buildings dot the forested green space, the Ferris wheel of the coking plant and the ice rink on the canal are important sights and playgrounds.
Installation artist Christo has packaged the last carload of ore in this millennium mine and made it a permanent artwork. Christo and his land art have attracted a lot of attention in the international art world, and also made the ancient mine of Lamersberg, which has a thousand-year mining history, once again attracted worldwide attention.
The protection of industrial relics first started in the United Kingdom and the United States. With the decline of traditional industrial production and structural upgrading, the conservation movement in Soho, New York, became a successful case of industrial heritage conservation during this period. As one of the industrial areas of New York in the second half of the 19th century, Soho completely declined after World War II, and there are about 50 unique and exquisite “cast iron 80-style” buildings. In the 1960s, SoHo had been facing demolition in a wave of urban renewal, with plans for renewal stalled due to the continued efforts of local artists, residents and other groups. In 1973, SoHo was listed as a protected area, becoming the first protected area in the world to be converted from an industrial area.
In 1973, the first International Industrial Heritage Professional Forum was held in the “Holy Land” of Industrial Heritage – Iron Bridge Canyon in Shropshire, England. The object of industrial heritage protection began to shift from industrial “memorial” to industrial “heritage”. .
In 1978, the International Association for the Protection of Industrial Heritage was established in Sweden, and the protection of industrial heritage has received widespread attention from the international community. Many countries have begun to initiate and carry out large-scale organized and planned protection activities, and some protection regulations and strategic plans have been issued. In the same year, the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland became the first industrial heritage site to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
In 1994, the UNESCO Center for World Heritage Conservation proposed the “Global Strategy for a Balanced, Representative and Credible World Heritage List”, in which industrial heritage is one of the special emphasis on heritage types.
During this period, the protection and utilization of industrial heritage has also achieved remarkable results, showing a trend of large-scale and popularization. Artistic techniques are also becoming more and more mature, and many successful classic cases have emerged, including the reshaping of industrial landscapes such as the Duisburg Park in the Ruhr industrial area in Germany, showing the revival of old industrial areas in the post-industrial era.
After more than 100 years of prosperity, the Ruhr industrial area began to experience economic recession in the late 1950s and early 1960s, especially the coal and steel industries. In 1956, 500,000 people worked in the Ruhr mining area. By the end of the 1980s, the Ruhr area was facing serious unemployment problems. The young labor force has moved out, the population of the district has declined, the city’s tax revenue has been reduced, the inner city has declined, industrial pollution has not been controlled, and the central position of the city has disappeared. In the 1950s, the Emscher region of the Ruhr region, which had the highest per capita GNP in Germany, became the region with the most problems and the highest unemployment rate in western Germany. Due to the continuous decline of the international competitiveness of the manufacturing industrial enterprises in the region, there has been a wave of industrial recession such as bankruptcy, bankruptcy, relocation or career change of factories and enterprises.
Creative arts have reborn the Ruhr industrial area in nirvana, and it has also enabled the area to obtain a new way of economic growth, get rid of the traditional values of industrial wasteland, abandoned factories and facilities, rediscover its historical value, and regard industrial wasteland as a Industrial cultural heritage, combined with tourism development, regional revitalization, etc., to carry out strategic development and renovation, this creative practice makes the industrial area rebuilt from the ruins. Artistic creativity has given industrial relics a longer life.
The Völklingen Steel Plant in Germany is the only well-preserved comprehensive steel plant site in the entire Western Europe and North America. It shows people the style of the steel plant built and equipped in the 19th and 20th centuries. cultural heritage.
Creative arts are like magic, giving life to the Ruhr industrial area.
European industrial museum
In Europe’s old industrial countries, industrial heritage sites are often accompanied by large-scale and innovative industrial museums. As a researcher of industrial heritage, the author has visited a large number of industrial sites and museums in Europe and found many interesting stories and details.
Various types of machinery that embodies the development of technology and science began to be collected and displayed in museums at the end of the 18th century, and then appeared in various expositions until the first industrial exposition was held to praise the development of industrial technology, and with this As a model, it has gradually become a world exposition that has an influence to this day.
Also at the end of the 18th century, the collection of the French Museum of Crafts and Technology opened the “specimen-style” preservation of various industrial machinery and their products. After the first Universal Exposition in 1851, starting from the exhibits and the collection of the Patent Office, the United Kingdom established the London Science Museum, which is still an important base for British industrial archaeology research.
In the old industrial countries in Europe, the industrial heritage sites are accompanied by large-scale and innovative industrial museums.
With the establishment of its status as an industrial power, Germany took French and British science and technology museums as samples, and at the same time was inspired by the idea of open-air museums in Nordic countries, and began to build Germany’s science museum, the Deutsches Museum, and developed the concept of technical cultural relics from it. . The German Mining Museum, founded in 1930, envisaged to include a mine for tourists to visit at the beginning of its construction. After re-digging and expanding the foundation of a collapsed mine, a 2.5-kilometer-long underground tunnel was formed.
With the further development of collections and exhibitions, the establishment of thematic museums related to science and industry, on the one hand, has promoted the in-depth research on the history of science and technology. At the same time, the practice of industrial heritage protection in Europe and the United States has also contributed to the preservation of many museums with a new type of showcase.
Ironbridge is located in the town of Ironbridge, Shropshire, central England. The iron bridge spans 100 feet (about 30.48 meters) and the arch is 45 feet (about 13.71 meters). The single-arch iron bridge weighing about 378 tons draws on the principle of stone arch bridges. Five cast iron ribs support the bridge deck, but the fittings are assembled in the way of simulating wooden joints. The gray-white cast iron arch bridge flies across the Severn River. The exquisite details and elegant arcs make the exquisitely carved iron bridge more like a work of art in the mechanical age.
This iron bridge, built in 1773, is the first time in the history of human engineering that cast iron is used as the main structural material. starting point. The construction of the Iron Bridge benefited from the development of cast iron technology and smelting technology in the valley area, and was also inseparable from the abundant water resources and coal resources at that time. Therefore, the Severn River Valley spanned by the Iron Bridge was also called the cradle of the Industrial Revolution.
History is like a pile of pearls buried in dust and all kinds of trivialities, which will gradually be forgotten if they are not mentioned for a long time. Soon, the splendor of the Iron Bridge at the beginning of its construction disappeared from the public’s sight, and only existed quietly in the records of local chronicles. Fortunately, the silence also kept the iron bridge basically in the state it was in when it was first built, and it became an important research object of industrial archaeology carried out in the mid-20th century.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the United Kingdom carried out two nationwide bridge censuses, and these two censuses triggered the protection of bridges in the modern sense to a certain extent. With the advent of the automobile, many ancient bridges were threatened with demolition or forced widening. The Iron Bridge was registered as a “registered monument” in 1934, and due to its structural safety, vehicles are prohibited and only pedestrian traffic is reserved. Although Ironbridge is known as a “heritage” for its exquisite craftsmanship and long history, the town’s economic decline in the early 20th century made its significance during the Industrial Revolution obscured. Many experts working on industrial history were not even aware of the iron bridge’s existence, and it was not until Ricks’ 1955 article “Industrial Archaeology” that he linked the iron bridge to a “memorial of the Industrial Revolution”, which brought archaeology once again. the attention of scholars of science and industrial history.
From forgotten iron bridges to world heritage sites, this is an important achievement in the research and preservation of industrial heritage in the UK.
Different from the well-known national museums such as the British Museum and the History Museum, which have strong financial support, the Iron Bridge Canyon Museum Group is an independent museum operated and managed by the foundation. The income of the ticket revenue and various subordinate service agencies is the museum fund. important support for the operation. Therefore, in order to encourage tourists to stay as long as possible and visit more, the museum group adopts an annual ticket system. One purchase of 10 museums is universal, and it is valid for one year after the purchase, so it also becomes a family in the surrounding area. Good place for leisure travel.
As the first industrial city, Manchester in the United Kingdom not only took the lead in the construction of artificial canals, but also first tried the modern mode of transportation by urban trains.
The Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, located at the former Liverpool Road Station, was first built in 1963 as a museum of the History of Science and Technology Department of the University of Manchester, and later transferred to the management of the Greater Manchester Regional Council. Since the 1970s, the museum has been looking for a new location due to lack of space for collections. When the news of the closure of Liverpool Road Station came, the Greater Manchester Regional Council and the museum considered this to be a very good opportunity for the museum to relocate. , After a series of negotiations and games, the railway company also agreed to sell the station at a low price. Completely different from the common idea of using new buildings as museums before, this museum of science and industry was set up in the earliest passenger train station to collect and display all kinds of equipment in the industrial revolution era. It has become a wonderful combination of industrial architectural heritage reuse.
As a science museum, its public education function is very prominent. The museum has special exhibition halls for technical history objects such as aerospace, camera history, power equipment, electricity, gas, textiles, storage buildings, etc. All permanent exhibitions are free and open to study groups of all ages. In addition, the museum’s collection center also preserves a large number of donated documents and objects for researchers to use.
As the scale of industrial production becomes larger and larger, the production of many heavy industries also becomes larger and larger with the complexity of the process.
The Völklingen steel plant in the German state of Saarland covers an area of 6 hectares and forms the main part of the city of Völklingen. When you get off the train station, you can see the landmark structure of the steel factory at a glance. The earliest surviving equipment at the steel plant was a mixer from 1873, and production as a whole ceased in 1986. Immediately after the cessation of production, it was included in the protection list, becoming an example of overall protection. The Völklingen Steel Works is the only well-preserved comprehensive steel mill site in the entire Western Europe and North America. It shows people the style of the steel mills built and equipped in the 19th and 20th centuries. heritage.
More than just local production facilities, in Völklingen, the entire steel plant becomes a giant specimen of the industrial age. Workshops, silos, and large machines that are much higher than buildings are the most important exhibits in this large open-air museum. At important positions in the equipment and workshop, there will be detailed instructions to introduce the history and technical characteristics of this part.
Walking in it wearing a helmet, sometimes detouring, sometimes climbing, is like exploring a huge precision instrument. Through the preserved objects, future generations can understand and experience the technological height and construction strength achieved by human beings in the industrial age. The end of factory production is the beginning of another museum experience. These rich industrial museum experiences are not limited to one-way display and explanation, but enable viewers to fully understand all aspects of production in the industrial age.