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Urban Textile Mills: examples of industrial districts, company towns and urban planning in Europe

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9:00 AM, Jeudi 1 Sep 2022 (20 minutes)

Most of the industrial cities, districts, and company towns in a larger scale were planned and built in the late 19th and 20th century; at a time when the urban planning discipline was born and first paradigm of modern urban planning were defined. Textile was, next to iron works and mining, the leading industry in Europe with manifold industrial complexes in towns and landscapes. New Lenark (1785) and Saltaire, (1850-52), were early, but leading examples for company towns.  

The contribution examines not only the period of industrialization—the historic emergence of four urban mill types, the industrial districts and company towns and their shaping of the cities in the late 19th and 20th century—but also focuses on recent processes of their repurposing, and correlations between both periods and processes. Knowledge about 20 case studies in Europe feed the analysis.  

The argumentation highlights that the conservation of urban textile mills is not only about the technological and architectural contributions of the textile industry and the securing of these material remains. Beyond this, textile mills have been—and remain—significant features of many cities and should be recognised as resources for sustainable development.  

The contribution promotes the—often conflictive—task of achieving an appropriate balance, between conserving urban textile mills as documents of the past and adapting them to present and future needs. The decline of the textile sector in many of these original locations has meant that converting and repurposing these historic industrial complexes has become a new opportunity and important task in many European cities.

Heike Oevermann


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