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A Revitalizing Function of Culture and Cultural Heritage

Info: 8318 words (33 pages) Dissertation
Published: 27th Jan 2022

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Tagged: Cultural Studies

“A high-quality environment for urban living is important, but so are better mainstream services, especially education. It includes social and economic aspects as well as physical”.


In the second half of the twentieth century, cultural institutions began to be treated as an important element of the processes of revitalization of degraded or neglected areas – districts, entire cities and even regions. They have become symbols of transformation processes showing a new direction of development. Museums, cultural centres, theatres, libraries and concert halls participate in the processes of changing the image of places that are restored to their inhabitants and often become a magnet attracting tourists. These are both new, dazzling architectural figures, as well as historical buildings – often representing post-industrial heritage – adapted to new functions. This is a tendency rooted in Western countries – the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany – from the 1960s and 1970s (although many earlier examples can be pointed out), whereas in the Central European countries it occurred – on the wave transplanting Western patterns in the field of culture – in the nineties, and especially after 2000. At the beginning of the 21st century, fashion for the re-use of post-industrial heritage developed on an unprecedented scale.

The huge number of abandoned industrial spaces is a legacy after the rapid industrialization of individual cities – factories, production plants, mines, railway stations, port buildings, power plants, heat and power plants, warehouses, breweries, mills – buildings associated with heavy and light industry, created during the Industrial Revolution and they performed their functions until the sixties, seventies, eighties and even nineties, the twentieth century. In response to the growing and changing market needs, these facilities were expanded, modernized, and when production became unprofitable – sold or abandoned. Cultural activities have become a way to develop them. The production past of the walls has turned out to be an attractive element of creating a new identity for the institutions located within them. Due to the large number of revitalization investments undertaken at the beginning of the 21st century in the area of post-industrial heritage, it will be the leitmotif of this dissertation.

2. Introduction to the problem of revitalization

There is no single valid definition of revitalization. In the draft act on revitalization and supporting renovations and certain construction projects from 2006, the revitalization was defined as a “process of spatial renewal, economic and social degraded development areas leading to sustainable development of these areas”. Legal regulations relating to revitalization are dispersed in laws in the field of, planning and spatial development, communal self-government, municipal economy, real estate management and construction law [Revitalization of Polish cities, 2010, pp. 32-33]. For this reason, the authors of individual studies devoted to revitalization, introduce their own definitions. In the publication Revitalization of degraded urban areas, it was assumed that “revitalization is a long-term process and a multifaceted process integrating remedial actions in the spatial, social and economic spheres addressed to degraded urban areas that have lost the ability to self-regenerate, conducted to re-integrate these areas into the functioning of the urban organism “[Kozłowski, Wojnarowska, 2011, p. 16].

In the project Revitalization of Polish cities implemented by the Institute for the Development of Polish Cities in Krakow, revitalization was shown as a “coordinated process, carried out jointly by local government, local community and other participants, being an element of development policy and aimed at counteracting the degradation of urbanized space, crisis phenomena, stimulating development and quality changes, through increasing social and economic activity, improving the living environment and protecting national heritage, while maintaining the principles of sustainable development. ”

The issue of revitalization always includes three aspects: spatial, social and economic. In its spatial aspect, it refers to architectural-urban and constructional issues, ecology, technical infrastructure and cultural heritage. The social aspect is related to the occurrence of social pathologies, the phenomenon of social exclusion, demographic changes, pauperism and low level of education. The economic aspect, in turn, is connected with the need to bring the revitalized area to economic recovery – the emergence of new permanent jobs, attracting external investors, new residents and users [Kozłowski, Wojnarowska, 2011, p. 19]. The term “revitalization” is used in various fields – urban planning, sociology, geography, urban sciences, economics – and depending on the adopted perspective, the focus is on spatial, social or economic issues, but all aspects must be part of the process.

The concept of revitalization is related to a number of related concepts, which often become part of the process: renovation (restoring the condition of the building that existed at the beginning of operation), modernization (introduction of new, better, also additional equipment that raise the standard of the building), revalorisation (restoring lost architectural and utility values by carrying out renovation and modernization of facilities of special utility value). Marcin Kopeć indicates that the concept of revitalization is sometimes misused to identify any corrective actions relating only to one of the elements of revitalization [Kopeć, 2010, p. 94]. Tadeusz Markowski also writes about it: “we treat the technical repairs of buildings or the construction of new buildings as instruments of revitalization, not its goals” [Markowski, 2007, p. 322]. There are also numerous concepts that, despite small differences, are used as synonymous in relation to revitalization. They have a slightly different meaning in individual languages. Sylwia Kaczmarek collected concepts referring to revision in three languages: French (rénovation – réconstruction, réstructuration, régéneration, réhabilitation, révitalisation, réquali cation, réconversion, récyclage), English (redevelopment, restructuring, regeneration, rehabilitation, revitalisation, renewal, renovation, recycling) and Polish (revalorisation, restructuring, rehabilitation, rehabilitation, revitalization) and compared their meanings. She noted that the terms regeneration and rehabilitation refer to the procedure that restores objects to their original state or lost magnificence, while the concept of revitalisation refers to the introduction of new life into the area or to a set of objects [Kaczmarek, 2001, p. 21]. Often in English, the term regeneration is used to describe revitalization.

There are four types of revitalization processes [Revitalization of Polish cities, 2010, p. 8]:

  1. revitalization of degraded city centers and multifunctional pre-war urban development areas
  2. revitalization of post-industrial, post-industrial and post-military areas,
  3. revitalization of blocks of flats
  4. revitalization of the urban landscape with particular emphasis on the silhouette of the city and the system of public spaces

The essence of revitalization activities is to counteract the degradation of urban space, based on cooperation with the local community and business entities. This aspect distinguishes it from gentrification, which also refers to the desired urban effects (renewal of the urban tissue) and economic (increase in the value of real estate), but not social (in this case, outflow of existing residents) [Revitalization of Polish cities, 2010, p. 24]. Revitalization is to lead to strengthening the city’s competitiveness and economic growth. Bolesław Domański emphasizes that revitalization “aimed at achieving economic or social goals should always take place while preserving the cultural heritage and principles of spatial order and sustainable development. At the same time, revitalization aimed at cultural, social, spatial and environmental goals must take into account economic mechanisms “[Revitalization of Polish cities, 2010, p. 25].

3. Models of revitalization through culture

One of the important factors of revitalization processes is cultural activity. There are three models of revitalization, whose component is culture [Evans, 2005, pp. 967-970]:

Regeneration through culture

Cultural activity in this model is a catalyst or a driving force of revitalization, it is widely perceived as its symbol. It usually takes the form of a flagship or cultural project of a complex – it may consist in erecting or adapting a building (a set of buildings) for public or mixed use, restoring open spaces (e.g. EXPO areas) or implementing a program whose purpose is to rebrand a place (e.g. festivals). Projects of this kind are aimed at achieving the character of uniqueness. Graeme Evans indicates that the specificity of this model is often misunderstood. The term “revitalization through culture” is used in reference to loud cultural objects, which are located in revitalized areas, but they are non-significant elements of long-term investment programs – they are supposed to be branded rather than economic development.

Cultural regeneration

In this model, cultural activities are more integrated with the strategy for a given area and other environmental, social and economic activities. The revitalization of Birmingham and Barcelona is considered to be a model one, where cultural goals have been coupled with the revitalization process from the beginning.

Culture and regeneration

Culture is not fully included in the strategic development and planning process in this model. This is because often other entities are responsible for the sphere of culture, and others for the sphere of revitalization (entities responsible for revitalization do not recognize in those responsible for natural culture) or because there is no leader who has experience in implementing this type of projects and awareness of the importance of culture in the processes of revitalization. Cultural projects are usually modest in nature, such as a public art program for offices created after the design of buildings, heritage interpretation or a local historical museum hidden in the adapted industrial space, artistic interventions. Such activities can strengthen the planned functions and services, even though they appeared only at a later stage.

There is a whole range of indicators that can be applied to culture-based revitalization investments, although researchers point to their imperfection (see below subsection: The importance of revitalization through culture …). In the case of a complex revitalization process, including numerous investments, functions and industries, it is difficult to state clearly which of the elements and to what extent contributes to its success. The following indicators are taken into account in the evaluation of the contribution of culture to revitalization [on the basis of: Evans, Shaw, 2004, pp. 9-32]:

1) Determining the influence of culture on the processes of revitalization, in the environmental sphere:

  • re-use of abandoned buildings (not only because of proper spatial conditions, but also because of their historical and symbolic value),
  • improvement of the environment,
  • increased social use of space, leading to lowering the level of vandalism and increasing the sense of security,
  • pride of place
  • development of spaces serving life and work, as well as mixed functions,
  • employing artists to work in project teams,
  • incorporating elements of culture into plans for the future.

2) Determining the influence of culture on the processes of revitalization in the economic sphere:

  • investments directed inwards,
  • increase in the expenditure of residents and tourists,
  • creating jobs / multiplying wealth,
  • locating / retaining employers,
  • retaining graduates in the region (including artists and people from the creative sector),
  • a more diverse workforce,
  • driving force for the development of new enterprises, retail locations and leisure space,
  • a greater number of partner relationships between public, private and voluntary sectors,
  • greater involvement of business in local cultural activities,
  • increase in property prices.

3) Determining the influence of culture on the processes of revitalization in the social sphere:

  • change in the perception of the inhabitants of the place where they live,
  • increasing self-confidence and aspiration,
  • more clearly expressing individual and shared ideas and needs,
  • an increase in the number of people working on a voluntary basis,
  • increase of organizational competences at the local level,
  • increase in social capital,
  • a change in perception of the image and reputation of the place or community,
  • stronger partner relationships established between the public and private sectors as well as the voluntary sector,
  • reducing the level of student absences in schools and their offensive behavior,
  • increase in the number of people who want to get an education.

The measurability of individual indicators is characterized by different levels of reliability. Some of them can be obtained directly, in the case of others it is necessary to carry out research (for example, a survey of public opinion in terms of “pride of place” – this is a highly subjective indicator). In addition, a large proportion of indicators is associated with other factors, it is also difficult to determine whether in a given case the cultural factor was of key importance or was only a supplement to the complex process of revitalization.

4. Icons and other heroes of revitalization – global examples

Very often, the cultural function is a showcase and a neat packaging of the entire revitalization process. Some regional policy makers and planners see culture as “insurance against future collapse”, and some investors, both private and public, as an added value and a factor accelerating development [Evans, Shaw, 2006, p. 2]. Planners of revitalization processes consider flagship projects as the most important – great, magnificent buildings that break the conventions, become the hallmarks of the city landscape, real brands on tourist maps and the unremitting goal of pilgrimages for tourists. In literature, these buildings function as “icons” and are often buildings that conceal various types of cultural functions. It is possible to indicate many buildings whose opening over the past decades has played the role of a catalyst for improving the conditions in the so-called bad neighbourhoods. These include Tate Britain (formerly the Tate Gallery) opened in 1897 in the Millbank district in London. As J. Pedro Lorente writes, “this was a forbidden district, consumed by illness, with criminals and prostitutes roaming the streets, surrounded by gas plants and smoking factories. Although the place was near Parliament, the road from Westminster was narrow, surrounded by old, decayed houses. “[Lorente, 1998, p. 133]. The museum was supposed to be an antidote to problems in the district.

The first large modern facility to perform this role was the Center Pompidou in Paris – a conglomerate of several cultural institutions, including the National Museum of Contemporary Art, a library, a center of industrial design and a music center – opened in 1977. Its location was chosen part of the notorious Marais district – Plateau Beaubourg (specifically, parking for cars supplying goods for the nearby market square, Les Halles – in the sixties, the decision was made to move it to the suburbs, historical pavilions of cast iron and glass from the mid-summer the fifties of the 19th century were dismantled, and a railway junction and shopping center was built in their place). The Center Pompidou is a modern building whose architectural expression overtook its era and which, despite the wave of criticism, has become a tourist attraction. From the perspective of the second decade of the 21st century, it is already a “monument”.

Revitalization through culture with the guiding role of heritage took place a decade later in Liverpool. In the nineteenth century, along with the boom for larger ships, the port developed rapidly. The construction of warehouses at the rectangular Albert Dock lasted from 1841 to 1847. Until 1890, it served primarily as an unloading port for deep-sea merchant ships arriving from the Far East, India and America. Despite the initial success, trade throughout the port has broken down relatively quickly. While in the 1880s about 64% of the port was used, at the end of the century only 7% were in use. In 1972, Albert Dock was finally closed. In the 1970s, Liverpool underwent a financial crisis which in 1981 caused riots. This drew the attention of the government to the need to regenerate the quay. In 1982, the Merseyside Development Corporation was founded, whose aim was to restore, reconstruct and change the functions of port buildings. An important element of the project was the location of a new institution in the complex – Tate Liverpool – a branch of the museum in London (opened in 1988). The brick buildings also included shops, restaurants, offices, apartments, television studios and the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

The institution, which is commonly associated with revitalization through culture, is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao opened in 1997, regarded as the driving force behind the economic and social changes in the capital of the Basque Country. The modern shape of the museum has become an architectural symbol of the late twentieth century. From the middle of the 19th century, the production activity of the city was based on the iron, steel and shipbuilding industries located on the banks of the Nervión river flowing through the city. The lack of diversification caused that the effects of the crisis, which began in 1975, were particularly severe for the city. Unemployment reached 30%, which forced quick action. The scale and pace of investments in Bilbao enabled cooperation between public and private entities. The port and airport were enlarged (building according to the design of Santiago Calatrava, 2000), underground lines were built (stations designed by Norman Foster, 1995) and trams (1999-2003), the water in the river was cleaned.

The relocation of port activity has made it possible to transform the riverside district of Abandoibarra. In 1991, the Basque government turned to the director of the Guggenheim Foundation with the proposal to join the city’s revitalization plan. The success of the museum meant that the concept of “Bilbao effect” meant a unique architecture, which translates into economic and image success, plays a decisive role in the revitalization of post-industrial areas or in the ennoblement of inferior districts. On many occasions, Bilbao’s success was repeated. To the so-called “Bilbao children” are among others Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi (beginning of the project in 2004), Pompidou branch in Metz (2010), a branch of the Louvre in Lens in France (2012).

Another one after Bilbao, a great revitalization success is the Bankside district in London. This time, in the center of the enterprise, there is a post-industrial heritage – a historic building of a disused power plant, which has been transformed into one of the largest museums of contemporary art in the world – Tate Modern. Opened in 2000, created at the initiative of the Tate gallery authorities, it became a magnet for other investments in the district – it was the driving force of the revitalization process and plays the full role of a symbol of change. A model example of revitalization, through culture with the participation of both iconic objects and cultural heritage, is the revitalization of the Gateshead wharf (part of a wider revitalization project of the whole Newcastle conurbation and Gateshead under the common name of Newcastle Gateshead). The most important for the investment have become the center of contemporary art, created in the converted building of a powerful grain elevator from the mid-twentieth century, a newly built music center, and immediately hailed as an icon, a tilting bridge.

Examples of Liverpool, Bilbao, London and Gateshead include the revitalization of port quays located in close city centers, or within a short distance from them. In Germany, the model of regeneration of degraded land became the Ruhr Area (the whole area of the basin covers 4450 km2, including 11 cities). Mining and heavy industry, which have been developing in the region for decades, in the 1980s, have been falling. Accompanied by pollution and social problems. In 1989, the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia established the company IBA Emscher Park, whose goal over the space of ten years was to coordinate landscape revitalization, clean up the river system, build commercial, educational and residential buildings and reuse industrial installations for cultural purposes among others.

The revitalized area has become an arena for the forefront of world-renowned architects (so-called starchitects), whose designs themselves (regardless of their purpose) attract attention. The most extensive complex subject to revitalization is the area of the largest coal mine in Europe, the Zollverein in Essen from the mid-nineteenth century. The cultural institutions established on its premises have made it possible to change the character of the region. The central element of the complex is the XII shaft designed by Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer in the 1920s, excluded from use in 1986. In 2001, the Zollverein complex was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which initiated a lively process of its adaptation to cultural functions. Earlier, in 1997, the Nordrhein Westfalen Design Center was opened in the building adapted by Norman Foster, a mine boiler room. Revitalization of post-mining sites does not only involve the adaptation of existing buildings. New facilities are also being created here, the first of which was opened in 2006, the new headquarters of the Zollverein School of Management and Design, designed by the award-winning SANAA studio.

Historical buildings representing the cultural heritage of past centuries often serve single institutions – but they are also adapted accordingly, becoming a place of concentration of cultural activities in the form of cultural districts. Cultural complexes take on two main characters: they are either multifunctional edifices, serving as cultural centers, where specific areas of culture and art coexist under one roof, which is often associated with the construction of a new building, or a system of buildings stretched over a specific territory, and objects (they have different cultural functions), which are usually a combination of adapted and new architecture. An example of the second type is Museums Quartier – a museum, creative and entertainment district located in the center of Vienna.

It was established within the imperial stables from the first half of the 18th century (expanded in the 19th century). Historical buildings create a frame for modern architecture. From the street side there is a historical facade, and behind it is a courtyard where, against the background of baroque architecture, two new cubic blocks stood: Leopold museum and MUMOK museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien. In the middle part, in the stable building and in the annexed halls, there are: KUNSTHALLE Wien and Halle E + G, in the side wings: Architekturzentrum Wien, ZOOM Kindermuseum and DSCHUNGEL Wien – theater for the young audience, while the front building has a creative space called Quartier21. On 7000 m2 there are several dozen autonomous organizations dealing in digital culture, fashion and design, which space is rented for two years (with the possibility of extension). According to the authors’ concept, it is “a modular platform of action for independent, small institutions, artistic offices and temporary initiatives, a place to conduct critical discourse and confrontation with contemporary culture and its products, as well as a docking station for starting cultural activities” [Bogner, 2001, p. 39]. In addition to the exhibition institutions, the MQ has cafes, restaurants and bookstores. The courtyard is an organizational function, designed as a place of recreation: there are a fountain, benches, fashion shows, design and dance, a literature festival, DJ concerts and programs for children.

Cultural districts are often compared to shopping centers and thematic amusement parks – in many of them the border between high culture and popular entertainment has been blurred. Undoubtedly, every kind of cultural district affects the development of the city – the concentration of cultural activities and entertainment, translates into increased traffic, free time spend here, residents, tourists come – but the prestige of this type of complexes is different. MQ is considered an example of good balance between high culture (art and architecture) and commercial component.

4.1 Bankside district in London

In 1992, a decision was made to separate from the Tate Gallery branch of international contemporary art and to provide it with a separate building. The original plan was to build a new facility. When looking for a location, however, it turned out that all the conditions for a new location (including the condition of communication accessibility) were met by a building threatened with demolition of the Southwark power plant, erected in 1947-69 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and excluded in 1981. For decades, Southwark has been labeled “bad district”. Despite the location in central London, it was avoided by a wide arch, especially since it was devoid of tourist attractions. In 1994, Tate bought the land and most of the building. The consulting company prepared a report on the economic impact of Tate Modern on the local economy. In the same year, an international architectural competition for the adaptation of the building, won by the studio Herzog & de Meuron from Switzerland, was announced. The architect’s “addition” to the structure of the building is a cubistic glass structure with a height of two floors, superimposed on the Scott’s brick structure.

Tate was incorporated into the life of the local community right from the start. In 1996, at the investment site, an office and a visitor center were opened, functioning as an information point until the gallery was opened. Tate published the quarterly magazine sent to homes and businesses in the neighborhood. After the opening, residents of the Southwark and Lambeth districts were treated as a priority during the recruitment procedure [Lorente, 2011, p. 269]. Among the goals set for Tate were: development of cooperation with local authorities, entrepreneurs and residents, creation of conditions for their participation in the development of the gallery and Bankside promotion (Southwark is a wider administrative unit – part of it is Bankside) as an attractive place to live, work and sightseeing [Industrial buildings, 2000, p. 165]. The financial resources for the construction of the gallery were also provided by the Southwark Council in the hope that Tate would help ensure the flow of visitors and money to the district, and increase employment.

At the beginning of the 21st century, in Southwark, among others thanks to the museum, one of the best food fairs in London was opened, specialized stores, restaurants and cafes were opened, and port warehouses were transformed into fashionable lofts. Right next to Tate Modern, the previously reconstructed Shakespeare theater – The Globe – opened a little earlier in 1997. In addition to the metro station, bus and ferry lines, the Thames coast connected a pedestrian bridge, the so-called Millenium Bridge. Tate Modern is at the same time at the center of a major city revitalization project called South Central, whose aim is to extend the Tate effect beyond its initial impact on the surrounding area. Importantly, Bankside revitalization was not the result of a political plan or assumptions developed by the city authorities – these were created as a result of museum intervention [Schubert, 2002, p. 109].

4.2 Gateshead quay

The neighbouring town of Newcastle-Gateshead, separated from it by the River Tyne, was a small settlement by the end of the nineteenth century. Thanks to the technological progress at that time, coal mining increased, and hence the number of people for whom workers’ housing estates started to be built. Newcastle was also growing, which gradually began to turn away from the river due to its pollution with industrial waste. In the seventies and early eighties of the twentieth century, there was a rapid economic breakdown of the region, and deindustrialization led to an increase in unemployment. The revitalization of Newcastle was started already in the sixties, and then it continued in the seventies and eighties. Newcastle Quayside was largely ruined and abandoned – its revitalization was carried out in the eighties and nineties and focused primarily on the creation of residential and office buildings.

The metamorphosis of the Tyne waterfront, completed the revitalization of Gateshead Quayside along with the flagship projects implemented here. First, the construction of a footbridge that provided a pedestrian and bicycle connection to the already-revitalized Newcastle waterfront was undertaken. In the 1996 Millennium Bridge competition, the Wilkinson Eyre Architects / Gi ord & Partners office project won. The official opening of the bridge took place in 2002. Its unique inclination structure has brought architects a number of awards, it has also become a symbol of both “reborn” cities. In the same year, the BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art was opened, in the building of a huge grain elevator formerly owned by Baltic Flour Mills. The building was used in the years 1950-1982. He did not share the fate of other industrial buildings in the area, which were demolished, because the cost of removing over a hundred concrete silos that filled it was too high.

In 1992, the decision was made to allocate the building to the art center, and two years later an architectural competition was announced, which was won by Dominic Williams. In the northern and southern façades of the building, the original brick structure has been preserved, and six floors and three mezzanines have been erected between the facades. Eastern and Western elevations were built of glass, which provides natural lighting of the interior and opening to the panorama of the city. Profit for the local economy in the form of multiplier effects generated by BALTIC is estimated at around £ 5 million per year, not to mention the impact on the image of the city and the region [Urban regeneration in Great Britain, 2009, p. 178].

The third flagship project is The Sage Gateshead, combining the functions of a large concert hall and an institution performing music education that was lacking in the region. The futuristic music center was designed by the Foster and Partners studio. It has three independent concert halls, including one for 1650 seats. Research has shown that each £ 1 million spent on the Sage operation returns in the form of £ 12 million generated by the local economy. The institution is also an important employer employing about 400 people [Urban regeneration in Great Britain, 2009, p. 180]. In the vicinity of the investment, a complex of luxury apartment buildings and a hotel were created.

5. The importance of revitalization through culture (with the participation of cultural heritage)

Cultural investments, including those implemented with the participation of cultural heritage – usually with the use of historical architecture, often post-industrial architecture, representing the recent, twentieth century history – are part of comprehensive revitalization processes. Gateshead researchers agree that cultural investment is not able to provide an “alternative future for all deindustrialized cities” [Miles, 2005, p. 914], and the success of iconic buildings in this particular city does not have to translate into a similar effect elsewhere. because “the influence of cultural investments in iconic projects is very much related to the place, there is no magic formula for success” [Miles, 2005, p. 923].

The conditions must be met, the most important of which is to build ties with the local community (“rooting” in the local community) – then the investments made will be a source of pride for them. This was the case in Bilbao: “The sense of defeat and pessimism that has arisen in the context of the prolonged economic crisis and political conflicts has given way to collective optimism in Bilbao and the entire Basque community. Most of the Basque community – public institutions, the private sector and society – are now convinced that it is really possible to enter Bilbao and the whole region into the post-industrial era. This is the real miracle of Bilbao. ” On the other hand, architectural designs symbolize only changes that occur [Vegara, 2001, p. 94].

The success of the revitalization of the Gateshead and Newcastle quays is unquestionable, but the researchers have a problem with defining and assessing the real impact of cultural investments and cultural activities on social life. They point out that there are no indisputable premises showing the influence of culture on the process of regeneration [Evans, Shaw, 2006, p. 2]. Typically, statistical data is used for this purpose, although researchers admit that these values are not at all meaningful.

In the case of Newcastle Gateshead, the figures are as follows: in 2003, 66% of local respondents believed that the investment cost was reasonable (they were informed that the cost of the BALTIC and Sage bridge was £ 250 million, half of which came from public funds; in 2002, 69% of respondents), 95% of respondents said that the quay improves the national image of the region, and 89% of respondents said that investments affect the sense of pride in the area [Miles, 2005, p. 918].

These numbers may be a sign of strong social support, but they should not be treated as its only indicator. The success of the wharf is to consist not only of unique architecture, but also the diversity of functions and “a series of new experiences that collide art, the culture of nightlife and pride of place, which means different things for different social groups and different identities” [ibid.] , p. 921].

6. Cultural revitalization in Poland

A comprehensive summary and diagnosis of revitalization processes in Poland is a twelve-volume series of publications issued by the Institute of Urban Development in Krakow, which is a result of the research project Revitalization of Polish cities as a way to preserve material and spiritual heritage and a factor of sustainable development implemented in 2007-2010. Zygmunt Ziobrowski indicates in one of them that the revitalization processes in Poland are hampered by the lack of a national revitalization policy and government policy towards cities.

Many elements of activities characteristic of revitalization are also not widely used: participation of local communities in the process of revitalization, participation of the private sector in co-financing these processes or treating revitalization as a public service (which would allow limiting property rights in the name of a common goal). There is also a lack of using non-public institutions to achieve public goals [Revitalization of Polish cities, 2010, p. 11]. At least a dozen or so examples of revitalization activities can be cited, for which the historical objects that gain a new function are at the center of planning processes.

Often, however, these projects lack a comprehensive approach represented by Bilbao or Gateshead, and some of them are of a bottom-up nature, where it is assumed that cultural activity functions as the spiritus movens of the whole renewal process. Bolesław Domański admits that the participation of local communities in the programming and implementation of revitalization is small in Poland – on the one hand, this is the result of a long-standing tradition of top-down activities of local administration, and on the other there is a lack of trust in local authorities and low interest in this type of projects (it appears only in conflict situations).

The participation of the local community is, however, a condition for the full success of revitalization, already in the initial stages of revitalization activities, because it leads to the compliance of the undertaken activities with the needs of the local community and thus to reduce the scale of conflicts [see, pp. 25-26]. In the case of post-industrial areas, it is rare to talk about local communities living in a given area. However, they occur in the immediate vicinity and investors’ attention should also be directed towards them. One example of successful revitalization is the Manufaktura in Łódź, where the issue of public support and participation of residents has been completely marginalized.

In 1999, a private investor, the Apsys Polska company, bought the land and property of the XIX century cotton company I.K. Poznań, with the plan to create a shopping and entertainment center on its premises. The historic buildings of the factory, made of red brick, have been renovated and modernized, a new shopping center building was erected, small architecture elements (fountain, benches, street lamps) were placed in the courtyards – the public space created in this way began to fulfill the function of a market that Łódź does not have.

An element ennobling for a commercial investment was the introduction of a branch of the Łódź art museum to its premises – Apsys gave the public museum one of the historic buildings, in order to place a permanent collection of modern and contemporary art in it. The investor was not interested in the broad social support program – he did not consult with the inhabitants of the area of revitalization and adjacent areas (similarly, they were not led by the city office). He did not set the project as an objective, to counteract the enclaves of poverty in the city (studies of the Institute of Sociology of the University of Lodz in 1998 identified 12 poverty enclaves in the city center, studies repeated in 2009 did not show any changes) – one of these enclaves, create family houses of the former Poznań plant, located along Ogrodowa street, to which one of the walls of Manufaktura adheres [Strzelecka, 2011, p. 666].

A model was implemented in Łódź, so-called implantation revitalization, which consists in introducing new functions or architectural and spatial forms to the area of significant importance and values for the city in exchange for those that have been degraded or destroyed (the opposite of this model is the so-called integrative revitalization). The users of the space created in this way become outsiders – newcomers, and the local community uses changes only indirectly: by the emergence of new services that they can be recipients, and the emergence of a more interesting place in terms of the aesthetics of the urban landscape [Kaczmarek, 2001, p. 27; Strzelecka, 2011, p. 664]. The assumptions of implantation revitalization, however, are in contradiction with the commonly used definitions of revitalization, and the case of Łódź should not be treated as a successful example of revitalization, but a remedial action, having only selected features.

The planned revitalization of the area of the former Gdańsk Shipyard is also largely negatively assessed, which consists in the demolition of shipbuilding and the creation of a modern “enclave of wealth” – in the area of 70 ha, the Young Town district will be established, where mainly offices, residential buildings and shopping centers will be located. The whole, will be cut off from the history of the place, largely ignores the neighborhood inhabiting the community, associated with its production past. The Institute of Wyspa Art – a center of contemporary art located in one of the post-shipyard buildings (the building of the former Shipbuilding School) took on the role of the catalyst of negative changes.

Through the socio-artistic program implemented, it establishes relations with the place and its history, and tries to include inhabitants of Gdańsk, in the process of changes (he implemented, among others, workshops that were of public consultations regarding the planned investment). The assessment of the transformation process in the Shipyard area and their likely negative dimension will be possible only after the investment is completed, at the earliest in the middle of the third decade of the 21st century.

The transformation of the Mill Island in Bydgoszcz into a centrally located cultural and recreational enclave in the city is the most comprehensive, successfully implemented revitalization projects in which the center has a cultural heritage and a cultural function. Most of the historic buildings have been adapted for the needs of the district museum. Leon Wyczółkowski. On the post-industrial heritage and cultural function, the revitalization of the center of Katowice is also based. Despite losing in the competition of cities, the European Capital of Culture 2016, the Katowice authorities are continuing a cultural course, which is to change the industrial image of the capital of Upper Silesia.

On the site of the former “Katowice” Coal Mine, and in its immediate vicinity, three large projects are being implemented – the new Silesian Museum, which will partly use the historic mine architecture, and the new buildings of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice and the International Congress Center. Construction works are underway, which means that revitalization will be possible only at the end of the second decade of the 21st century. In Krakow, the revitalization of the Vistula district of Zabłocie is underway, but it is not comprehensively implemented.

On the premises of the Schindler’s Factory – a building symbolizing the difficult history of the place, popularized by the Steven Spielberg-sprinkled Oscars – two city museums have been created to attract tourists, as well as café-restaurant and cultural services. Private investors are also attracting to the district, who put luxurious apartment buildings and offices in the place of factory development. Although the district changes its image, the process taking place here has more to do with gentrification than with revitalization.

Polish revitalization projects using cultural heritage are usually less complex than the model western investments – there is a lack of cooperation at various levels of power, and cooperation with the private sector, which is the result of the imperfection of the Polish legislative system. Also, highly unsatisfactory is the degree of involvement of local communities in the process of change, which should serve them in the first place. The prospect of the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century is too short to be able to assess individual revitalization projects in which cultural heritage and functions play a primary role.

Many projects of this type are still in progress. However, it can already be stated that the use of cultural heritage in revitalization processes is more and more frequent and that cultural centers, which play not only a façade but also an integrating role for local residents, find their place in their center. The revitalization of cultural heritage and the introduction of new cultural functions are becoming an important element of the promotional strategies of Polish cities. It is also a component of the development of cities whose individual districts are redefined to create a new quality corresponding to the challenges of modern times.

7. Conclusion

The revitalization of degraded areas and dilapidated buildings or architectural ensembles is visually attractive, and unquestionably from the end of the twentieth century, it is possible to speak of real fashion in this area. Properly carried out revitalization, serves the image ambitions of politicians, officials and owners, serves tourists and residents at the same time. It introduces a new value – it is a cultural function. But the added value is also the power to attract the audience, which the place creates. Nevertheless, the literature indicates that the purpose of large flagship projects is rarely to improve the living conditions of existing residents, but rather to attract new visitors and buyers to the city [Miles, 2005, p. 916].

These are primarily projects that are to ensure marketing success – build or improve the image, pay attention, charm, fascinate, excite emotions. Charles Landry states that in particular, predestined to “communicate iconically”, there are museums, galleries, theaters and sports stadiums [Lan- dry, 2008, p. 148]. The threat to revitalization processes is the aforementioned gentrification, visible in the emergence of new, affluent residents and their dedicated functions – service facilities and offices. Improvement of spatial quality, increase in property prices and change of the image of the area may contribute to crowding out existing residents, for whom the cost of living in this area will become too high.


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Cultural Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that examines how cultural practices relate to everyday life and its historical foundations. Researchers typically look at how these practices influence people’s behaviours and opinions, ideologies, and class structures.

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