In many post-industrial cities, memory is being employed to aestheticise and integrate the past into new urban places. Industrial memory survives as traces, residues and fetishes of historically venerated phenomena. As a result, mills, canals & factory housing have replaced older romantic tropes like the cottage and church as symbols to be celebrated within modern society.
> Post-Industrial Transformation
“The constant dismantling and remaking of the industrial city are seen as essential parts of capitalist industrialisation.” The future development of the remnants of industrial cities is being contested vigorously, as areas undergo transformation via neglect, gentrification and the rediscovery of the past through conservation, as well as retrofitting and regeneration schemes facilitated by the insertion of new functions, programmes and investment.
> Case Study – Ancoats, Manchester
Ancoats, as the world’s first industrial suburb, was seen as the archetypal urban industrial production space created by and for industry, whilst simultaneously being a slum district. Contemporary Ancoats is now viewed as the classic example of a declining post-industrial district, with fragmented streets, dereliction and mass depopulation. Substantial regeneration schemes are underway to redress these issues, but several problematic barriers must be overcome – namely, the large number and polarity of landowners and stakeholders, and the seemingly contradictory objectives of heritage-led conservation groups, and capital-led developers. Regeneration schemes during the past have remained inconsistent and disjointed, to the extent that Ancoats is now more fractured than ever, and its formerly coherent sense of place has all but vanished in the face of disorganised urban planning and policy.
> Post-Industrial Temporality
Industrial cities were built around economic or production timescales. Today, however, with production being almost completely relocated out of urban centres, the temporal void left behind has been filled by two seemingly opposing scales – ‘heritage time’ and ‘developer’s time’. In heritage time, the city is seen as a spatialised system for recalling the past, the memorialisation of the urban through the iconic and monumental architecture. Developer’s time is an unremitting pursuit of capital, progression and the future, whilst destroying any and all resistant traditions and memories.
|+ Urban Memory: History + Amnesia in the Modern City - the 'Urban Soul' [CTW 2009]|
> The Urban Soul
“Memory must be seen to be respected but only providing it presents no contradictory or resistant element to change.” All cities exist in a state of flux, and urban transformational temporality is ubiquitous. The regeneration of post-industrial cities will occur at different and non-synchronous scales, and will result in a disorientating and dislocated sense of place, for so long as the current system of incoherent urban planning and policy persists. The two opposing forces of memory and capital will continue to struggle for the soul of the post-industrial city.