From industrial
to cultural



Towards a new productive culture

Former production spaces become multifunctional cultural centers

In the last few decades, many reactivation projects have been initiated in Europe, reinterpreting and modernizing abandoned production spaces and turning them into multifunctional cultural centers. The trend of factories and industrial areas being decommissioned is one of the clearest manifestations of contemporary socio-economic dynamics: the shift to the service sector (tertiarization of work?) and the delocalization of production that, together with periodical financial crises, has impacted organizational forms of production, trade and living in the city.

Reactivation through artistic and cultural practices that interpret the history and identity of the space

Today, these spaces represent an opportunity to reorganize the urban layout of cities and redevelop their productive function (the city of Bilbao is a prime example of this concept). The dimensions and flexibility of these spaces, together with the images evoked by their past, favored their reactivation, sometimes temporary, through artistic and cultural practices that interpret the history and identity of the space, experimenting with new uses and functions.This itinerary collects some of these experiences to illustrate how art and culture constitute a crucial trigger in the initiation and implementation of urban regeneration processes and in the future transformation of cities.

Spaces of full-scale experimentation

These new cultural centers become spaces of full-scale experimentation, mixing art and creativity, sustainable and ethical approaches to economy and collaboration, civic and social innovation, and experimentation in governance. Whatever origin and juridical form they have (cultural associations, social enterprises, cooperatives, foundations…), they are projects capable of gathering communities of artists and creatives, networking with similar organizations and driving and inspiring local governments in the construction of more sustainable cities through art and culture.

Culture as a tool for understanding

Despite their differences and peculiarities, these are evolving spaces, where art and creativity become tools to interpret and understand their memories, to give value to abandoned cultural assets and produce a new reflection along with new contemporary practices.


What's going on in Italy

There are around 130,000 abandoned industrial sites in Italy

It is estimated that there are millions of vacant, underused or abandoned buildings in Italy; these assets represent a difficult challenge, but also an extraordinary opportunity for reactivation and regeneration. This varied group of buildings includes around 130,000 abandoned industrial sites, factories, power plants, warehouses, quarries, and depots. These buildings represent a historical, architectural and cultural fortune, the memory of a transforming productive system.

Generative, inclusive and empowering cultural and creative centers

Some of these productive places, instead of becoming a memory of the past or a piece of industrial archeology, turned into spaces for cultural urban regeneration, transforming these urban voids into generative and inclusive cultural centers for the people and the communities. These are not industrial, but cultural production spaces, in which innovation is experimented, art and micro-enterprise are mixed, creative talents are nurtured, and opportunities are created for new social relations and bottom-up participatory processes, with a varied audience of communities, participants and users.

Spaces that translate the “genius loci” and the socio-cultural context

These experiences, which originate in production spaces that are strongly linked to the vocations of the territory, interpret the “genius loci” and succeed in understanding and translating their social, historical and cultural context through projects that are strongly site-specific. These initiatives can also be credited for helping to change the world of art and culture, pushing it out of the galleries and theaters and into the squares, gardens, abandoned factories, and public places, bringing it closer to the people and intervening in the debate about the city alongside the communities.

“Lo Stato dei Luoghi”, a network for cultural urban regeneration

A nationwide network, “Lo Stato dei Luoghi”, today collects all these experiences, spread all over Italy, with the goal of making these new centers visible and promoting public debate on themes of cultural urban regeneration.

Explore the commons


De Besturing

The Hague | Netherlands


Berlin | Germany


Bilbao | Spain

Centrale Fies

Dro | Italy


Prato | Italy


Modena | Italy


Mazara del Vallo | Italy

Recommend an urban common!


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