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Towards a vibrant public space. Adaptive reuse approach of British Waterway heritage quarters

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9:30 AM, Thursday 1 Sep 2022 (20 minutes)
Industrial heritage, as one of the most fragile heritage kinds, was always underestimated in its significance and potential. During the past 20 years or so, a gratifying trend of reconsidering the value of industrial heritage prosperous in the UK, then gradually prevailed globally. At the same time, the rapid growth of modern cities urged the necessity of dealing with left-over industrial relics appropriately. The UK, as the pioneer of the industrial revolution, possesses a well-planned systematical river and canal system. Some of those precious waterway heritages were once abandoned and polluted. When re-examining the possibility of waterway remains from both preservation and development perspective, the regeneration of those once-blighted spaces calls for a balanced approach of regaining a vibrant urban life, as well as maintaining its unique industrial identification. The idea of adaptive reuse emerged at precisely the right time. Besides rediscovering and restoring essential industrial heritage elements, adaptive reuse also brings continuous vitality and sustainable added value to the site’s original layer and a broader city area. This paper aims to focus on British waterway heritage regeneration, studying how the concept of adaptive reuse helps to reestablish a heritage identification and to revitalize the urban industrial space. Through years of exploration and practices, the UK has accumulated plentiful experiences and achievements applying adaptive reuse. A great many of the projects are working impressively as a comprehensive and energetic urban heritage quarter, as well as restoring the waterfront biological system. By carrying out a typological study of British waterway heritages, this paper will illustrate how different approaches work for targeted types of cases in order to recreate a harmonious relationship with their natural and social environment. As expected, the result of this adaptive reuse analysis may provide a comprehensive practice inspiration to deal with similar typology and situation.

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