How can industrial heritage be used sustainably?

In four examples of how historic industrial architecture is used today, Bernd introduces participants to the Horch Museum in the former Audi factory in Zwickau, Hannah explains some design ideas for the interior of a former Egyptian beer factory, Paloma provides an insight into the transformation of a Renault factory building into the headquarters of a real estate group on the outskirts of Paris, and Yang reports on how the historic railway terminus in Antwerp became a state-of-the-art through station. These examples were compiled and presented by participants in the first Summer School for “Industrial Heritage x Sustainabilty”, which took place at HTW Berlin in August. It was awarded the "Council of Europe's "Best Practice Award of the Cultural Routes" in September 2023, in the category "Mediation".

Guided tours and lectures, workshops and excursions

Katharina Hornscheidt, Jula Kugler and Karsten Feucht had been very inventive when planning the two-week intensive programme, which included guided tours and lectures, workshops and excursions. In the run-up to the Summer School, each participant had been asked to research an industrial heritage site and subsequently present the results to their fellow students. Once in Berlin, the students visited other locations together, where they discussed utilisation concepts, projects and strategies. “We paid particular attention to the issue of sustainability,” says Jula Kugler, who, like her colleagues, works for the Berlin Centre for Industrial Heritage (Berliner Zentrum Industriekultur; bzi), which is based at the University’s School of Design and Culture (Faculty 5). HTW Berlin has been cooperating with the German Technology Museum Foundation (Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum) and the Senate Department for Urban Development, Building and Housing under the umbrella of the Berlin Centre for Industrial Heritage for many years.

Focus on sustainability

Showcasing the current relevance of industrial heritage to the theme of “sustainability” turned out to be a popular move. Almost 20 students attended the Summer School on the Wilhelminenhof campus, thanks in no small part to enthusiastic support from the University’s own International Office. Participants came from Bulgaria, Poland and England, as well as from Egypt, Canada and China. It follows that both intercultural communication and, no less importantly, interdisciplinarity, were the order of the day. Because the preservation, use and marketing of industrial heritage invariably requires the collaboration of a range of actors from different disciplines, the Berlin Centre for Industrial Heritage had designed the programme explicitly not only for budding experts in the field of industrial heritage, but also for students in the fields of architecture and urban planning, cultural and tourism management and communication sciences.

Partnership with the European Route of Industrial Heritage

The organisers also solicited the support of the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH) network, a renowned partner whose financial contribution helped to keep the fees low. The brainstorming and presentation took place in Hall B1 on the Wilhelminenhof campus, and the food was cooked in the youth hostel belonging to the neighbouring canoe club.

The Behrens-Ufer was also the subject of the Summer School

Speaking of the neighbourhood: a visit to the Behrens-Ufer urban planning project next to the Wilhelminenhof Campus was naturally also on the Summer School’s agenda. A future-oriented, energy self-sufficient urban quarter for business, science, art, culture and public life is due to be built there, covering an area of ten hectares. The participants were also able to discuss the sustainability of these plans with those responsible for the project. The first Summer School for Industrial Heritage at HTW Berlin concluded with a final presentation, the issue of certificates of participation including four ECTS credits and a celebratory party.

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