top of page

Compared images from Typologies (Becher, Becher & Zweite, 2004)

Re-Founding the Industrial Past

GRA Architecture



Published at The International Committee for Conservation of the Industrial Heritage Conference Proceedings.

Water towers, coal tipples, grain elevators, coal bunkers, oil refineries, cooling towers, gas tanks, storage silos, are the elements of interest in this research. Industrial constructions that due to their deliberated functionalism were discarded and abandoned after their technological obsolescence. Indescribable forms, static machines, ‘things with an unstated purpose’ (Cook, 2005) that seem to have lost their sense along with their function. That sense, as Cruz described, resides in the name of things, as an instrument of abstraction and synthesis of their essential signification (2005). Then, as in these cases, the names of things are basically a description of a function they no longer fulfill, the search for names
to define them, can offer us different levels of signification that eventually will provide us with potential alternative solutions to the conservation of the industrial remains.

Re-founding the Industrial Past aims to interrogate the current nature of these things and the potential future natures of them if they were re-founded as buildings, artworks, objects, or ruins. This approach, firstly leads us to ask, how does the way in which we name them condition the values embodied within them? And secondly, understanding them as part of our recent heritage and acknowledging their significance, what would be the different conservation strategies according to these names?

The research involves a qualitative analysis of the attitudes and ethics of conservation of heritage professionals from different disciplines and backgrounds. This demonstrates that since conservation aims to preserve and enhance the values embodied in a particular substance, according to the representative values of the names given to these industrial things, the strategies for their conservation will differ. Then, from a potential restoration to a documented abandonment, any intervention may change the substance itself but not make it less or more authentic.

bottom of page