Living Archive

Unravelling the potential roles of heritage in urban regeneration

The CENTRINNO Living Archive is an open access platform containing stories stemming from pilot cities’ (post-)industrial sites, collected locally with participatory heritage methods. Its purpose is to help communities imagine what can be broadly described as a new ‘critical heritage of making’, and enable the creation of inclusive and circular Fab City Hubs. The Living Archive has three parts:

  1. Local offline co-collection efforts and exhibition space

  2. An online network visualisation exploratory tool which provides access to shared and annotated/tagged local content.

  3. A series of online publications (dossiers) which provide analysis and reflections on the co-collection and curation process and the emergent network of content.

The CENTRINNO Living Archive serves as a manifestation of how the concept of heritage, and people's interactions in which it is made (or unmade) can (or cannot) function as a catalyst to accelerate and sustain the transition toward a more circular and inclusive society in European cities and beyond. Heritage here is approached as a curated way of dealing with the past in the present towards the future. Tangible and intangible items are labelled as heritage in interaction. An item of heritage might evoke very positive emotions, a desire to celebrate it and even a claim to elevate its presence and value. Negative feelings towards the same item of heritage, on the other hand, can provoke and generate disgust or even hate. Practices of archive and heritage making are in fact very much part and parcel of the living fabric of everyday life, or the way in which people live together. In order to explore a "new industrial revolution" and a post-industrial urban regeneration model for a sustainable and resilient economy, may be worth it to discuss the previous Industrial Revolution, and the different and often contested values associated to it (technological change, progress, but also extractivism and exploitation). CENTRINNO recognises the value in looking back, to see where we’ve come from, and discuss which values we want to be part of our future.

Novel approaches enable people to explore, research, discuss, decide about archives and “heritage”. Thus, the process of design and development of our Living Archive is collaborative. The Reinwardt Academie is responsible for the open dialogue with all nine CENTRINNO pilot cities and other partners to move in unison in both the building and design of the Living Archive, as well as its usage, replication, adaptation and change at the pilot sites.

The main purpose of the Living Archive is to help communities imagine a new ‘heritage of making’ through the memories, experiences and traces of (former industrial) places, practices and the related interactions with materials, with contents about:

  • Practices of making (the acts, skills, modes, devices, tools, words and methods);

  • Human interactions with each other and with the materials used (in the practices of making);

  • Effects of the environment (energy, animals, materials, products, etc.) on these human and non-human interactions and vice versa.

The online network visualisation of the Living Archive was first tested in a Kumu map including different interconnected stories collected by the nine CENTRINNO cities.

The Reinwardt Academie team developed a Living Archive tutorial for Kumu for the CENTRINNO cities to upload and manage their stories using the online platform.

During the second period of the project, partners developped the online webplatform for the Living Archive:

The CENTRINNO Living Archive is a key resource for the development of communities of practice, around, but not exclusively, heritage. Emotion Networking is a key method used in CENTRINNO to feed the Living Archive and it may support ‘co-defining the focus’ of the local community. Participants are able to reflect on the (shaping of the) ‘Emotion Network’ surrounding a (prospective) item of heritage, and collaboratively explore how to ‘make it heritage’, and whose voices are heard, unheard, missing or needed. CENTRINNO cities are able to identify people with specific knowledge, memories and/or perspectives which may help other stakeholders get inspired by the past. This allows pilots to uncover the potential to ‘make heritage’ and go deeper into tensions between: Tradition & Innovation, re-use & new making, as well as different usages and conceptions of place and time.

Many articles in the CENTRINNO website tagging "heritage" can be found:

You may also read the detailed report of the Living Archive Alpha official deliverable below, containing an explanation of the context, the structure, the methods and tools associated to heritage 'collection and making', and the development process of the platform:

A dedicated chapter in the CENTRINNO Handbook has been dedicated to Heritage and the Living Archive.

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