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SEARCHING for HYBRID SPACES. A Journey across Europe The visual interpretation of hybrid spaces in 5 European urban areas. Łódź - Leipzig - Ruhr Region - Saint-Étienne - Nantes


This report is part of the UNTITLED Project of the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning of the Politecnico di Torino. Alessandro Delladio and Lorenzo Attardo have travelled across Europe in July 2018, sometimes joyned by Francesca Bragaglia. Marco Santangelo was in Tokyo, supervising from afar the grand tour. All photos are by Lorenzo Attardo. Torino, 7th November 2018


SUMMARY 0.1. Untitled, Hybrid, Urban 1. Urban suggestions for the definition of hybrid spaces 1.1 Interpretation keys 2. Hybrid spaces in hybrid cities 2.1.Lรณdz 2.2.Leipzig 2.3.Ruhr Region 2.4.Saint-ร tienne 2.5.Nantes 3. The Underground map of Hybrid spaces 4. Final considerations 5. Acknowledgements

5 8 9 16 18 46 66 88 110 133 136 137





Contemporary cities are constituted of public and private spaces and buildings whose function could often be defined as transitory or undefined and, therefore, untitled. Some of these spaces are usually identified as urban voids, brownfields, abandoned spaces, etc. These areas were, in fact, formerly used and nowadays waiting for their reuse or transformation. There are several examples, that may be found almost in every city: industrial areas; big, medium and small commercial areas and streets; open air and covered markets; agricultural areas; schools, barracks, and hospitals; vacant houses; railway stations and related areas; quarries; religious buildings; etc. Such spaces and buildings may have a temporary use, whether formal or informal, that refers to social practices, micro-economies and different forms of social aggregation. Untitled spaces are the result of a dual problem: the need to rethink their use especially in a long period of generalized economic crisis; the connected difficulty of including them in plans, policies and strategies to promote the reuse of those spaces and buildings taking also into account practices that may be happening there. This mix of temporary, undefined, untitled can be also considered as potential for regenerating the city: that is why, rather than considering such spaces and buildings as problems, it would be beneficial to think of them as hybrid. A hybrid space, or building, does not refer to a specific typology or feature; it does not need to be framed with a destination, use or function. Many of these spaces have, in fact, multiple uses, temporary and informal because they are responding to otherwise unsatisfied needs: non-conventional production activities, social gatherings, urban gardens, etc. Hybrid spaces are not pathology of the urban: neither for their improper or transitory use, nor for their non-use. They are a more-than-normal components of the city: hybrid because urban and problematic only for the absence of an organic and open vision of the transformations of the city, and the lack of urban policies that allow the city to have empty spaces, breathing spaces, instead of interventions to impose the solution to a problem.



1. URBAN SUGGESTIONS FOR THE DEFINITION OF HYBRID SPACES Starting from the framework outlined in the first research report (UR1), this second document aims to put into practice recognition and interpretation of hybrid spaces through the study and research of 5 European urban areas (although one is a cityregion). The search for spaces that may be empty, in transformation, abandoned or redeveloped through the technique of urban exploration has allowed to better understand the context in which these spaces are inserted and, in some cases, to understand the perception that the citizens of the various cities have of these areas. The choice of cities was based on two factors: the comparison at a later stage with the city of Turin, which is why large cities and/or capitals were not considered, and the possibility of having a contact person for each city, to be guided on the choice of areas to be investigated. Urban areas that have been chosen are significant for their past and present development path: Łódź (Poland); Leipzig (Germany); three cities in the Ruhr Region – Duisburg, Bochum, Münster (Germany); Saint-Étienne (France); Nantes (France). The conceptualisation of UNTITLED spaces, thus of the research topic, started from the assumption that each space is part of a wider range of spaces defined as hybrid. Hybrid spaces represent the way in which each city is changing and adapting to change, generating in the process new “untitled” spaces that may not have, need or find their definition. All such spaces are part of urban transformation areas in the cities that have been explored. Exploration of hybrid spaces in the 5 European urban areas is based on 6 keys that summarize and interpret the main characteristics of analysed areas and buildings, combining together the original use with the current one and bringing out the relationship that the space has with the context in which it is placed (see § 1.1). To approach such spaces in a limited amount of time and with limited desk research before the visit, a visual interpretation of the space has been adopted: photographs thus representing what have been captured in a specific moment, place and time. Each photo was then allocated in a thematic group, depending on what the single image communicates and trying to avoid the influence of the broader context. This has allowed the “hybrid” aspect of each place to emerge, since photos grouped according to different themes may be part of the same space or when what is experienced is different from what is expected (according, for instance, to documents or plans). It was then possible to conceptually represent the distribution of these spaces through the use of an impossible underground map in which each line corresponds to a theme of analysis and each station corresponds to a specific space. In cases where a space can be considered in two or more themes, this is represented as a


transfer station. Surely the case study presented below cannot be exhaustive of the type of hybrid spaces that may exist, but certainly it helps to frame a method of investigation that is replicable on other urban areas to define further hybridities. This document consists of a first part in which investigated urban areas are presented. In the second part themes and interpretation of the spaces are discussed and a list of all the investigated spaces provides the main information that has been collected.

1.1. INTERPRETATION KEYS As mentioned above, the analysis of the explored spaces has been achieved considering 6 keys of interpretation related to the use of the space. The 6 keys correspond then to typologies of use:










On hold






There are two key aspects that characterize these spaces: the role of the temporary use transformation processes, on the one hand, and its aesthetic, on the other. The first aspect refers to the fact that temporary use is often the catalyst of a process of urban regeneration, creating and/or attracting investments that may consolidate a certain use. On the other hand, spaces defined by temporary use are often distinguished by certain design solution that makes them immediately distinguishable from the context in which they are placed as well as from spaces consolidated in their function. According to these considerations, the spaces that have been considered are those whose function is actually defined but which maintain, sometimes intentionally, a “temporary� aspect, thus becoming a new permanence of the urban fabric.

France, Nantes, Transfert




Untitled spaces also represent the (new?) frontier of leisure, where it is leisure itself that fits perfectly into the hybrid space and not vice versa. Almost “postapocalyptic� leisure, that is possible even in spaces that had other functions and that from the physical point of view have not (yet) lost them.

Germany, Leipzig, Lake Cospudener See




We have considered culture in the widest possible sense, thus including spaces related (or characterized) by art, education and knowledge, often playing with the idea of a local identity and the “spectacularization” of the city itself. In this way, the hybrid “cultural” space defines culture as content for containers, as institutionalized protest, as a claim, as urban spectacle.

France, Nantes, Quartier de la Création




With “living” we refer to new forms of living in the city, not the obvious and/or traditional ones but those that may generate a spatial tension. Living, declined in a broader way and not only in relation to housing, has always played an important role in the transformation of a more or less consolidated urban space. However, this strength appears to be fragile when it comes to spaces that rapidly change their function and role in the urban fabric. The result is a space that acts as a link between changing spaces. The tension between different uses is however visible when these spaces fail to connect and be connected and are somehow “isolated” (such as gated communities or areas of new expansion).

France, Saint Etienne, Quartier de la Création



On hold

In this group are contained all those spaces that mostly fall in the definition of hybrid spaces, as empty, abandoned and underused spaces. Typically brownfields, infrastructural areas, and abandoned buildings are considered as on hold spaces. While in the other themes we find spaces that from untitled have become (with more or less success) “temporary titled�, here it is the need to wait for what will happen that confirms their being untitled.

France, Nantes, Parc de Chantiers




Consistently with what is expressed by the spaces of urban living, also traditional workspaces (e.g. factories, shops, offices) have changed their shape and have adapted to different kinds of job from the they were built for. Moreover, workplaces built from scratch also adapt to the new needs of workers and to a constantly shifting production model. But these places also adapt to a use of space that will be less and less defined, resilient even to the changes that are occurring in the surrounding spaces. This sort of hybridization between different shapes and spaces is the common thread that links the photos related to this key of interpretation.

Germany, Liepzig, Spinnerei





2.1. ŁÓDz “When I first came to Łódź, I immediately discovered that this is the Polish capital of fashion, design and culture. A visit to the magnificent Manufaktura centre was enough to see how historical places can be transformed into a beautiful hotel and a fantastic shopping mall. I’m certainly not a millionaire, but I can afford everything in Łódź!”.9 “City of contrasts” as it is often called, these contrasts materialize not only from the perspective of the image that the city has and the one that it wants to promote but, above all, we come across a distinctly spatial dimension of the contrast itself. The industrial past of the city (based exclusively on textiles) still strongly characterizes Łódź : the old red brick industrial buildings of the 19th century and the mansions of the factory owners are the architectural mark of the city. With the closure of the textile industries, two pollutants were reduced, the air fumes from the factories and the noise that they produced and that extended throughout the city, but the city had to dramatically change its development perspectives. The city past makes it possible to perceive the different layers that make up the urban layout: an example given by the extension of the blocks that, in some cases, can reach 900m in length on their longest side. Today, this has an impact on the city as it relates to traffic problems, which is too constrained by this wide grid. Another example is that of a hidden layer: that of the streams and canals that characterized the city in the past and that have all been covered. On one hand because of the drying up of some of these streams due to the drought of the area in which the city is located, on the other because of the high level of pollutants contained in them during the industrial. The disappearance of pre-existing waterways is maybe one of the reasons why citizens are constantly asking for the creation of accessible and usable public spaces, as if to fix for the lack of this natural element. Łódź has 5 urban centralities, or rather, each period of transformation of the city wanted to define a different centrality: the old market located in the northern part of the city, the octagonal Wolnosci square, where the main city services were located; the North-South arterial street Piotrkowska; the Central Business District; the renovated railway station Fabryczna and its developing surroundings. After the Second World War, Jewish citizens who managed to escape from the Nazi barbarity fled to the State of Israel, while the German citizens returned to Germany. Those who remained in the city were few Polish citizens to whom were added new inhabitants, migrating to the city from the rural areas of central Poland. Because of its industrial past, the Soviet Union, which indirectly led post-war Poland, and the Polish communist government itself advertised Łódź’s image in a negative way, marking its past as a “capitalist” city. For this reason, those who lived in the city at that time did not feel proud to be its citizen. In contrast, with the revolution 9 This is how the website of the Polish Tourist Board describes Łódź, with an imaginary commentary of a woman that lists the main attractions that the city has to offer.


initiated by Solidarność and the collapse of the Communist Party, in the middle of 2000s the city attempted a third rebirth by focusing on art and the potential for development that the city itself can offer, advertising itself as a creative city. Numerous interventions of urban recovery and regeneration have been made, especially in the last 20 years, thanks above all to the wide industrial building heritage to be recovered. Urban regeneration was also the theme chosen by the city for its bid to host the 2022 EXPO (specialized, not universal exhibition) with the title: “CITY RE:INVENTED. Revitalization of cities - a global challenge and condition for further development of agglomerations around the world”. Łódź came second behind Buenos Aires, which then won the organization of another event in 2023. Despite numerous attempts to make the city expand and become one of the most important centres in the Polish landscape, Łódź is undergoing a demographic decline. At the moment it has 700,000 inhabitants, but the projections for the next three decades are for a drop of 200,000 inhabitants.






Part of the Schleber’s industrial properties, these buildings remained empty and abandoned for years. Before its final recovery young people associated in some NGOs first used these structures, and as they were very successful in doing international cultural events, they also convinced the municipality to invest vast amount of EU money in the renovation/ adaptation of the buildings. The art factory is now a centre for cultural and artistic education, theatre, visual arts and music. Concerts, exhibitions, conferences are organized here and, since 2014, it also hosts an incubator for art and creativity industries. Spaces for common activities are also guaranteed by the external courtyards and by the internal cafeteria, which is also used as a “classroom” for some university lessons.




Better known as the city centre, the area is characterized by the presence of several multi-storey buildings where there are branches of large international banking institutions, offices, malls, cinemas that make it actually the city’s business centre. The (unofficial) CBD of the city of Łódź was as an industrial area for the processing of cotton in the 60s of the 18th century. After the Second World War the business and trade centre of the city was developed here, with the aim of creating the new city centre. From the intersection with the main pedestrian and historical street of the city (Piotrkowska), the area also serves as the main hub of the city’s public transport; with the tram interchange station “Piotrkowska Centrum”. The vocational nature linked to work is still present in this place, which is why the reading of space is still perfectly linked to this type of use.




The first power plant of the city was built up in two different steps in 1907 and in 1929. Following its closure in 2005, the main buildings have been recovered maintaining the structure of the old heat and power plant including steering devices, furnaces, boilers, a turbo generator and a cooling tower. Culture defined as content for “containers” fits perfectly with this space. The whole structure, indeed, is now the Łódź “City of Culture”, hosting the National Film Culture Centre, the Planetarium and the Science and Technology Centre and thus becoming one of the main attractions of the city. The city of culture is part of a wider area of transformation of the city that is still in progress and which includes the new main railway station: Fabryczna. From these projects comes the whole idea of making it the new centre. It has to be highlighted that this was the idea of the organizing committees of major cultural events in the city (e.g. the bid for the 2022 EXPO and the subsequent allocation of the horticultural EXPO for 2023) and not of the municipal authority.




The second power plant of the city was built up between 1955 and 1960 and recently dismissed in 2015 (with the consequently demolition starting in 2017). The area was sold by the energy company to the one that run the demolishing works that wants to resell for a higher price the “cleaned” land ready for further investments. A discussion on the future of the area has not yet begun, nor the municipality have started any projects. This space can thus easily be interpreted as a “waiting space”.





The whole area of the renovated main train station of the city is undergoing a major urban transformation. Most of the spaces in this area have already been purchased by foreign investors who will be constructing business buildings. Both the railway station and the adjoining bus station are oversized compared to the current use of the two infrastructures. As a user, you find yourself inside a white elephant waiting for someone to fill it, hence the decision to consider it also as a space on hold. It might be also labelled as such because of the need to wait for the next phases of public and private investments. As the project is in progress, the municipality is waiting for the underground railway tunnel that will be built thanks to the EU funds by 2022. The municipality is also selling land to private investors, waiting for their projects to be realized.



ŁÓDŹ FILM SCHOOL The National Film School of Łódź is the main Polish school for future directors, actors, cameramen and photographers. The reason why this place is considered on hold, lies in the choice made a few years ago to build a new building to host the institute activities rather than to recover the old main abandoned structure









The linearity and cleanliness of the facades overlooking the pedestrian street Piotrkowska hide the real “treasure” that characterizes the entire historic centre of the city: the open and accessible inner courtyards. From the porticos of the buildings areas of varying sizes, that can cover the entire length of the block, can be found. Inside there are different uses: shops, restaurants, green spaces, temporary shops and informal leisure areas. However, there are also empty courtyards or courtyards used as parking spaces (more or less temporary) that contribute to the reading of this type of place as on hold spaces. As in other spaces, again the given interpretation is to emphasize the contrast between different spaces and uses; in this case, the urban life typical of a commercial and “tourist” street like Piotrkowska is related to what are the most everyday and informal uses of the courtyards that overlook that type of street.







This former industrial area belonged for a long time to a single owner, the industrialist Karl Scheibler that managed to make it the largest textile company in Poland. The area is now composed of several properties as a result of the fragmented sale of the entire property. The main building of this former 19th Century industrial area was bought by a company that failed to sell it and went bankrupt. The bankruptcy judges managed to sell the building to an Australian real estate company, which made luxury apartments and lofts inside the building. With the 2008 economic crisis, the company failed to sell these apartments and inevitably fell into bankruptcy. Again, the bankruptcy judges were called into question and had to sell every single apartment. Each real estate unit was obviously sold at a price below the market price (the priority was to sell quickly, without looking for the best-selling price to make a profit). Thanks also to the recognition as an historical monument in 2015 by the Polish government, Księży Młyn, and especially the old working-class dwellings, have been renovated and restored with the help of EU funds and are still used according to their original use as homes for lower-income classes and artists. The industrial spirit is still maintained today thanks to some factories that, using part of the old structures, have settled in this area.









This is a former textile industrial area of 27 ha transformed in the early 2000s into a large shopping centre that includes a luxury hotel thanks to the investment of the French company APSYS. This is the first large-scale intervention to restore a former industrial area developed in Łódź. Inhabitants perceive the square and the interior spaces of the commercial centre as a public space despite being private ones. Manufaktura is also called “the island in the middle of the grey ocean” because of the large parking area surrounding the various structures. The buildings in front of Manufaktura, originally built as dwellings for the workers of the textile factory and now used for public housing owned by the municipality, are being renovated: in the original plan, inhabitants were meant to return to their homes once the work was finished, but the policy has shifted since the municipality wants to use some of the former apartments in these buildings as commercial spaces for rent. One of the old industrial buildings, close to the shopping centre and the Andel’s Vienna Hotel, is home of the MS2 Museum of Contemporary Art, which helps to increase the already varied range of uses in the entire area.



NEW RESIDENTIAL AREAS Several former industrial areas have been converted into residential areas of different shape and nature. In some cases, gated communities have been created which, being very far from the model of gated communities belonging to the neoliberal tradition, are much less controlled and much more permeable. In other residential areas, however, open spaces (courtyards, internal passages, pedestrian paths, parking areas, ...) play their role as aggregative spaces typical of public spaces, even though they are private spaces maintained and cared for by the owners of the various dwellings. The contrast between new living spaces and older buildings in the city is persistent and reflects Ĺ ĂłdĹş hybridity.




OFF PIOTRKOWSKA OFF Piotrkowska represents the most fashionable project in the city for the recovery and reuse of an old cotton factory. Spaces have been created for shops, ateliers, restaurants, nightclubs, workshops and so on. Its informal appearance and the very activities that characterize it make us think that it is a temporary space consisting mostly of temporary shops. However, it is a space that is now rooted in the urban fabric and recognized by the population, even if its temporary use is reflected in some internal spaces used as rehearsal rooms, exhibition spaces and everything that refers to personal creativity.









These are usually empty plots inside the city centre, often obtained as a result of the demolition of old buildings, used as car parks. This kind of spaces has been explored both in Łódź and in Leipzig as well. In Poland “ad valorem property tax” does not exists yet, so Polish law does not provide for a differentiated land rent according to the location and context in which a building area is located: the only variable that determines the value of the area is its dimension. For this reason, many areas, even in the city centres, do not find an immediate recovery and a prompt transformation, thus being used as a parking lot. There are therefore some cases of parking lots temporary located in areas where buildings have been demolished and where there projects for their development are still missing.



PIOTRKOWSKA Although it is a ‘titled’ and well-defined space within the urban fabric, its peculiarity lies in being the common thread that connects several “untitled” spaces identified in Łódź: the CBD, OFF Piotrkowska and the inner courtyards as well as Wolności Square, which belongs to the hybridities of the city even though it is not mentioned here. Its use as a commercial and tourist street, however, also makes it untitled because it is similar to any pedestrian street in European cities, with less attention to the overlooking façades’ architectural quality.





Even in Ĺ ĂłdĹş there is no lack of traditional empty and abandoned spaces referring to old factories, areas resulting from demolitions, degraded buildings or abandoned areas. The expectation of being transformed, recovered and restored as has happened with other similar spaces is inherent in the status quo of abandoned and/or empty space.


2.2.LEIPZIG Leipzig is a city marked by the effects of a shrinking population, employment loss and diminishing city users. The factors that led to the decrease in the population of Leipzig are due to a crisis in employment (mainly in the metal industry), to the worsening of the city’s environmental conditions linked to industry and mining, and to the uncontrolled development of peripheral urban areas.

Demographic trends in the city of Leipzig, source State Statistical Office of Saxony, 2016

This slow decline, which began after the Second World War and continued after the unification in 1990, also led to a significant stock of abandoned areas and buildings. They were partly industrial spaces but, for the most part, they were houses and residential buildings left empty by migration to wealthier areas of Germany. Housing surplus is one of the major issues Leipzig has had to (and partly continues to have to) deal within the last 30 years. Five actions have been implemented and can be summarised as follows : • Town-houses (Construction of owneroccupied semi-detached townhouses in the innercity); • Tenant refurbishment incentive (Tenants receive financial assistance to refurbish their blocks); • Self-user programme (City helps organising and advising ‘owner groups’ for buildings); • “Guardian Hauses” (Wächterhäuser - Temporary rental-free lease of decaying buildings in strategic locations, occupiers required to make necessary repairs; coordinated by not-for-profit group; • Temporary use of private property as public spaces.

Regarding public recovery and requalification interventions, some 19th century residential districts have been entirely restored, including new public services (e.g. parks, leisure spaces, new tram lines). Other districts, however, are still waiting to


be recovered, thus presenting a large number of empty and/or dilapidated buildings. At the same time, the most problematic districts in terms of the quality of the built environment (mostly multi-ethnic districts) seem to be livelier and to have a great number of business activities, especially neighbourhoods’ shops. Renovated neighbourhoods are characterised instead by a quieter Share of vacant housing stock, City of Leipzig, 2006 environment, almost as if they were commuter areas. This draws attention to the social effect of the hybrid space (in this case an empty and abandoned space) where there is a differentiation between those who live in a completely renovated area and those who live in an area still in a condition of abandonment. Through a process of renewal and investment in the city (in which the central government of Germany also played an active role) that began in the late 1990s, both the real estate sector, the job market and the quality of the natural environment began to grow. The latter has undergone a rapid renewal following the closure of the coal mines outside the city and their conversion into semi-artificial lakes with the consequent enhancement as usable spaces for leisure time and as a tourist attraction.






The former railway yard located south of the “Bavarian� station of the S-Bahn is completely abandoned (the first historic Leipzig railway line connected the city with the capital of the Bavarian Kingdom, Munich). Although deprived of any remaining railway infrastructure, following the decision to lay rail tracks underground in the early 2000s, the area now looks like a long green belt that continues to be an element of physical division of the southern part of the city. The area also hosts a series of buildings that were previously used by the railway company (warehouses, railway workshops, depots, etc.) and that are now abandoned.







The renovation of the former gasometers has provided Leipzig with an innovative space for culture and leisure. Through the collaboration with the Austrian architect Yadegar Asisi, in 2003 the structures were recovered and transformed into a “Panometer” (combining the words “Panorama” and “Gasometer”). Inside one of the two gasometers, in fact, every year an exhibition is set up in which, through the use of lights, sounds and perspective prints, particular landscapes or representations of historical events are recreated, guaranteeing the visitor an immersive experience. The use of these spaces of the city for leisure and entertainment makes them completely hybrid, but there remains a connotation of emptiness or waiting because of the second circular structure of the gasometer that is still underused (even if completely renovated).



GROSSMARKTHALLE LEIPZIG The building, with its two huge domes, was built between 1927 and 1929 and used for the city fruit and vegetable market. It is currently underused and semi-abandoned. Because of the size of the building and of the surrounding area, this can be seen as a large empty area that acts as an appendix to the railway yard previously described. The building is used in part as a space for temporary uses such as events, concerts and festivals. Some rooms are used by a private company for its offices.






The city of Leipzig offers a series of passages, galleries, and courtyards between the buildings of the historic centre, thus allowing crossing the old city without almost ever passing through open streets and alleys. The overall extension of the network of galleries in the old town reaches a total length of 6 km. Inside these arcades there are many commercial activities and historic shops. Although they are now well-established and identifiable for the entire population, they are certainly part of the list of hybrid spaces that Leipzig can offer both for the plurality of uses that it offers and for the way these urban connections were born.


SPINNEREI It is a former cotton factory reconverted in the early 90s into a place for artists and young entrepreneurs who have decided to settle and work here. Today, inside the former factory there are more than 100 activities including ateliers, studios and various offices.





URBAN GARDENS Leipzig is characterised by a large extension of areas for urban gardens. In the whole Leipzig metropolitan area there are 128 allotment garden clubs with around 12.300 gardens, for a total cultivated area of 450 ha. These green areas are partly the result of the reconversion and regeneration of some brownfields and abandoned areas.






The demographic decrease suffered by the city from the 50s to the beginning of the 2000s (with an accentuation because of the post-unification phenomenon) has meant that the city has found itself with a problem of surplus housing to cope with. A contribution to tackling this phenomenon comes from associations that rent the flats of the so-called “waiting houses” (Wächterhäuser), which are all residential buildings that are waiting to be demolished or renovated as part of this built heritage. For a zero-rental price, the HausHalten association and the municipality of Leipzig will provide these empty dwellings for residential and/or commercial use (in the case of lower floors). The tenant is asked to take care of those minimum building solutions to ensure that the house will be habitable. In this way, the vacancy is not seen as a problem, but as a potential.






The metropolitan area of Leipzig is characterized by a strong naturalistic connotation defined by the presence of rivers, channels and 10 artificial lakes created by the recovery of the numerous lignite quarries located south of the city. The continuum of these water spaces gives rise to a series of blue ways that allow their navigation and thus the connection between the city centre and suburban areas. Indeed, the way in which these blue ways are used and managed brings out their metropolitan dimension, becoming attractive points of the region with the settlement of numerous activities and services for leisure time, including also new residential areas.





2.3. RUHR REGION The Ruhr region is famous for its extraordinary industrial vocation and for being an urban continuum that makes it almost a megalopolis. The population of the metropolitan area of the Ruhr is about 5.3 million inhabitants and, if united to the neighbouring area of the Rhine, it reaches about 12 million inhabitants. Although heavy industry has been at the centre of the region’s development (and in part continues to be so), the tertiary and agricultural sectors are also very strong. To highlight this variety on which the local economy is based, the cities chosen to represent this region are somewhat different: Bochum is a city in which industry (especially that linked to the automotive industry) has been predominant but that for some decades has already strengthened its investment in the university by creating one of the most attractive university centres in the region; Duisburg is the industrial city par excellence of the Ruhr, also because of the fact that it has the largest inner river harbour in Europe, here the industry still plays a leading role; Mßnster, on the other hand, is the least industrialized city in the Ruhr, also because it is located in a geographical position at the border of the megalopolis, and has a strong university, service-based, and agricultural connotation.

Germany, Bochum, Jahrhunderthalle 66

Bochum was completely destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt according to the canons of brutalist architecture typical of the ‘50s. Today the city centre is a large widespread shopping centre. All the buildings have shops on the ground floor and offices on the upper floors. The centre is lived exclusively during the day, in the evening is almost empty, including weekends. The hub of nightlife is concentrated in an area south of the ring road that surrounds the centre that is called “Bermuda3ecken� (Bermuda Triangle) of food, where there are mostly restaurants, bars and nightclubs. This causes the nightlife population to remain (almost trapped) within this area. Until 2014, Bochum hosted one of the largest production plants of the automotive company Opel, making Bochum an important reference point on the international automotive scene. The closure of the plants has, on the one hand, led to an inevitable fall in employment but, on the other hand, has given rise to a series of proposals for the rethinking and revival of these extensive industrial areas.

Germany, Duisburg, Industrial Park 67

Duisburg is located at the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers and this has allowed the development of an important harbour hub in the city. The impressive number of industries (mostly steel industries) that have settled in the region has made of Duisburg the main hub in the transport of raw materials and processed products and the largest river harbour in the world. The “untitled” spaces of the city, therefore, mainly refer to its industrial character, even if the strong bombings that the city suffered during the Second World War have in fact exponentially increased the creation of new hybridity through the reconstruction process. Although part of the Land North Rhine-Westphalia, the Kreisfreie city of Münster is not really part of the industrial region of the Ruhr but rather of the agricultural district of the “Münsterland”. Nevertheless, the city’s relations with the Ruhr district (with which it borders directly to the south) are such that this city can also be included in the analysis of the spaces of the Ruhr. The Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, with almost 40,000 students, is one of the largest German universities thus making of Münster a university town par excellence. This, combined with the strong attractiveness for young German citizens and families that the city itself advertises, leads to a higher demand for housing than what can be offered thanks to the available housing stock. Together with a policy oriented towards sustainable development, this leads to a process of densification of all those spaces within the city that allow for the placement of a greater number of dwellings. Since the city

Germany, Münster, Railway station


Germany, Münster, Old inner Harbour

does not have a large number of empty and/or abandoned areas, it densifies itself by building where there are currently car parks or by demolishing low-density buildings. This phenomenon of “inner-densification” has led to the development of a third type of municipal urban plan (Bebauungsplan): to the light intervention plan (to which the listed and/or valuable buildings are normally subjected) and to the more technical plan (with the building parameters and the sizing of the buildings dictated by the municipality), the participatory plan is added, bringing together public and private actors for the transformation of the concerned area.9 This type of plan has been used, for example, in the projects of recovery of the former Germania brewery and in the former British barracks (the latter still in negotiations for the purchase and sale between the city and the Federal State).10 The housing emergency in the city does not concern the poorest part of the population, but rather the middle class who cannot easily find an apartment to purchase.

9 Referring to the Italian legislative framework, this type of intervention plan is a mix between urban planning equalization (Bartolini A. (2018), “Equalization in urban development - annual report 2011 – Italy”, IUS Publicum Network Review.) and the detailed plan (or executive plan), in which development rights could be transferred by different land owners within the development area (a similar tool available in the UK legislation is the Transfer of Develpment Rights – TDR). 10 The federal agency that deals with the real estate assets of the Federal State and its disposal and subsequent sale is the “BImA” (Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben - Federal Agency for Real Estate Activities) which since 2005 has gone from being a division of the then Ministry of Planning to be an agency of the Ministry of Finance. This marked a radical change in the management policy of the agency itself: if before the main objective was to find a solution as efficient and effective as possible for the transformation of an area (see what happened for example in the district of Vauban in Freiburg), now the task of the agency is to sell the real estate at the highest market price.





JAHRHUNDERTHALLE Jahrhunderthalle (Centenary Hall) is the name given to the incubator for the arts and entertainment that was born from the recovery of a former cotton mill in the city of Bochum. It is the benchmark for the entire metropolitan area for performances and events related to contemporary theatre and art. The entire complex and its surroundings have been restored and transformed into an industrial landscape park (part of the network of industrial parks in the Ruhr), while maintaining its industrial spirit and identity.





FORMER OPEL FACTORY With around 70 ha, it is one of the widest industrial areas in the city of Bochum, where one of the largest plants of the German car factory Opel was located. Following the closure of the plant in 2013, it is an area destined to be used as a construction site for the realisation of new real estate interventions. The new urban transformation project is called “MARK 51°7” and is expected to be completed by 2022 (although most likely it will go beyond that date, because of the slowdown in work due to changes in the projects).







INDUSTRIAL PARK DUISBURG This is an important recovery project of the former foundries and steelworks north of the city of Duisburg, converted into an industrial landscape park designed by the German architect Peter Latz (the same designer of the recovery of Parco Dora in Turin). The area has become a space with many different destinations: a place for leisure time, a place for cultural/sports/ entertainment events, a place for sport activities (running, walking, yoga, climbing, diving, ‌), a place that bears witness to the city’s industrial past.







After having been completely abandoned for more than 20 years, during the 1980s work began on redeveloping the old inner harbour of the city and its surrounding areas. The masterplan drawn up by the British architect Norman Foster has provided for the construction of buildings for mixed luxury commercial and business use (gentrification for business use), residential buildings and interventions related to culture and nautical/water leisure.





GERMANIA CAMPUS The space presented consists of the former Germania brewery that has been transformed into a design hotel, with commercial spaces and housing for the middle class. The entire project has created new spaces for public use but is privately owned and difficult to define as public in any case, because such spaces cannot be freely used in the evening.







As it happened in the transformation of the river harbour in Duisburg, also in this wide urban space the main purpose of the intervention was to recover a semiabandoned part of the city. The northwestern and south-western areas of the canal are characterized by the presence of new buildings for mixed commercial, business and residential use. The northeastern area, however, is occupied by a large brownfield that is waiting for transformation. The southern part, at the intersection of the two canals, is characterized by the presence of several manufacturing buildings partly used for production and partly occupied by groups and associations. The connotation of a place for recreation is given above all by the use of the two channels for bathing.





Saint-Étienne is a city with a past linked to industry (there were mostly bicycles and weapons factories) and mining (there were several coal mines). At the end of the 18th century, the first urban plan of the city was drawn up, which provided for wide streets and many public spaces. The then élite, however, made sure to reduce these public spaces to be able to build more buildings and thus have higher rents: this has determined the dense urban plot that distinguishes the oldest districts of the city (the city centre, Crêt de Roc and Tardy - Colline des Pères). The Crêt de Roc district presents an interesting case in the wide range of urban projects that characterize the city. It is developed on the hill overlooking the historic centre with a longitudinal road network in relation to the slope of the hill. Here some new demolition works are aimed precisely at creating new cross passages in order to make the entire district more permeable. It is a multi-ethnic and moderately poor district, redeveloped by the ANRU (National Agency for Urban Regeneration, established in 2003) thanks to the national project “Politique de la Ville” (programme focused mainly on the physical redevelopment of spaces and buildings). As far as the social component is concerned, an association called “Amicale Laïque du Crêt de Roc”9 was founded. The thought of this group is that it is not possible to make the population wait for years before benefitting of the interventions to redevelop the neighbourhood, but that it should be more effective to start immediately with projects and/or activities to involve as much as possible the locals. Another actor that contributes to the development of the neighbourhood is the association “Rues du Développement Durable” which has focused particularly on the recovery of closed businesses. At the moment, 13 shops have been recovered. In addition to this, the association is responsible for the management of participatory processes and the implementation of small projects (urban gardens, gardens, etc.) carried out with the inhabitants. As already mentioned, Saint-Étienne is very active from the point of view of urban planning and transformation, also thanks to the vision and administrative capacity of some public actors such as Saint-Étienne Métropole (SEM) and the Etablissement Public d’Amenagement de Saint-Étienne (EPASE), founded in 2007. The latter is a very strong actor in the urban transformation policies adopted by French municipalities, bringing together all the public and private actors involved in a process of regeneration. The aim of such projects is also to improve in some way the image of the city, which has not completely succeeded in shaking off the legacy of its past. In the past 9


The original association was founded in 1924, then refounded with a new statute in 2005.

Localization of planned demolition work. Source: monthly news bulletin of the city of Saint-Etienne, March 2018 edition.

decades it stood out as an industrial city and was not particularly attractive. Today, despite having adopted policies of renewal and redefinition of a new local economy, Saint-Étienne is still seen as a poor and industrial city by the majority of the French population. This is also one of the reasons why many people decide not to settle permanently in the city. A sign of this decline is given by the demographic trend that shows that since 1968 Saint-Étienne has lost almost 45,000 inhabitants (42,321 from 1968 to 2015).10 Since 2014, with a new municipal administration, the mayor has, for the first time, drawn attention to the possibility of demolishing part of the city’s building stock because it is too large for the existing population. To do this, a real demolition plan with dedicated maps has been prepared.11 Among the buildings identified for demolition there are also some old social housing buildings. There are also spaces that have deliberately maintained as unbuilt after the demolition of some old buildings, such as the square in Rue de la Republique. The combination of all the factors has led to the creation of several hybrid spaces, sometimes isolated, sometimes in conjunction with each other. 10 Data from INSEE - the French national institute for statistics and economic studies. 11 See also the information magazine of the City of Saint-Étienne of March 2018 (https://ita.calameo.com/read/0005441135ba4f4b120b7)




ABANDONED CHURCH It is a deconsecrated church, abandoned and put up for sale in the neighbourhood of CrĂŞt de Roc that is undergoing transformation.





The transformation of spaces and blocks next to railway stations is an issue that many European and world cities are facing or have faced in the last few years. For Saint-Étienne, the choice was to transform the entire area into a large business, service and community district through two urban projects: the “Châteaucreux/Chappe Ferdinand” and the “Îlot Poste - Weiss”. The new tertiary district will have a total area of 60 ha and will lead to the construction of 200000 m2 of new offices, 160,000 m2 of new housing and 40,000m2 of new public spaces.9 Among the offices that are settling there are those of URSSAF, the Organization for the Collection of Social Security and Family Benefit Contributions, that has abandoned its old headquarters leaving a new void within the city. The new district fully reflects the basic idea of the work that we want to give through this study: new forms and new spaces for a not very innovative working market.


EPASE data, 2018. https://www.epase.fr/les-amenagements/les-quartiers/chateaucreux







The Cité du Design is a centre of higher education, research and economic development dedicated to the promotion of art, design and creativity established in 2010 by the public cooperation authority (EPCC) Cité du Design and the SaintÉtienne School of Art and Design, together with the financial contribution of the City of Saint-Étienne, the Saint-Étienne Metropole, the Rhône-Alpes Region and the French Ministry of Culture. This design city is located in a former weapon factory in the northern part of the city. In addition to the design school, the structure houses exhibition spaces, restaurants, ateliers and start-up offices and small design companies, all in a shared management of space during the opening hours of the structure. The city of Saint-Étienne aims to recreate its own image as a city of art, design and culture. For this reason, the design citadel project is part of a broader strategic plan that aims to recover the spaces behind the Cité and the redevelopment (already completed) of the area beyond the railway to the north of the François Mitterand park (see entertainment and culture district).








These are two blocks located in the foothills of the Colline des Pères, on the southwestern border of the city historic centre. A mix of uses is concentrated there, consisting of: old residential buildings, new residences under construction, new public spaces, and abandoned and demolished areas. It is precisely the coexistence of very different spaces that makes the area hybrid in its composition. The two places of greatest interest are the community garden “Forêt Nourricière” and the now abandoned building that was the headquarters of the URSSAF (now located within the new tertiary district Châteaucreux).




ECO DISTRICT “DESJOYAUX” The project was born from the will expressed by a local association to renovate the district. It has been realized thanks to the contribution of some public actors, such as the ANRU (Agence Nationale pour la Rénovation Urbaine) and the SEDL (Société d’Équipement et de Développement de la Loire). It covers an area of 3.5 ha and 80% of it has been realized, even if the whole redevelopment has suffered a slowdown because of the 2008 economic crisis. Today, the area to be developed appears as an empty area at the entrance to the Crêt de Roc district.







The city of Saint-Étienne aims to create its own image as a city of art, design and culture. For this reason, the above described Cité du Design is part of a broader strategic project that aims to recover and redevelop the spaces behind the area beyond the railway to the north of the François Mitterand park, where some structures of collective interest have been located such as the concert hall “Le Fil”, the theatre of the company “La Comédie”, and the large multipurpose “Zénith” theatre, designed by the British architect Norman Foster. 70 new student dorms will be located in the area surrounding the Cité: 20,000 m2 will be used for private construction and 50,000 m2 will be used for public space. The mix between completed, to be completed, and never realized projects makes of this space a hybrid in every respect, as its function is constantly changing.








This is a local project started in 2016 with the aim of developing projects for the regeneration of the Rue de la Ville, an alley in the historic centre of the city that in the last 10 years has seen the closure of more than 50% of its commercial activities. Despite being in a central and strategic position, this shopping street has lost its attractiveness mainly due to the move to other parts of the city of two major attractions: the theatre company La Comédie and the offices of the French social security institution URSSAF. The Ici-bientôt project was promoted by the Crefad Loire association of Saint-Étienne, itself founded in 2008. The main objective of the association, for this project, is to help the commercial and social development of the neighbourhood, connecting the owners of the commercial spaces and the shopkeepers. In this way, the association becomes a facilitator for those who want to enter the world of commerce for the first time. The contact with the municipality of Saint-Étienne takes place mostly during the operational phase, when there is a need to relate with the various technical and commercial offices to carry out the bureaucratic activity necessary for the opening of a new business. The commitment that the association has made to the municipality is to make it clear that it is possible to create new projects within known and “consolidated” spaces, using new and innovative tools. Added to this there is the second objective of the association, which is to try to revive the neighbourhood, or rather the street, involving the entire population in some projects of physical rehabilitation of the street, ranging from the arrangement of street furniture to the painting of the shutters of shops, to the same cleaning of public spaces. This is also done through a European project co-funded by the municipality called “DO IT YOUR STREET - FABRIQUE TA VILLE” in which 30 young students and activists from groups, collectives and associations from all over Europe participate every year with the aim of devoting two weeks to the design of new small projects to be implemented in Rue de la Ville.




PLACE DE LA CARTONNERIE Waiting for the construction of housing and new promenades by 2020, the Carton Plein association and the EPA of Saint-Etienne have set up a temporary public space on the site known as la Cartonnerie. A place of exchange and conviviality, the site hosts artistic installations, ephemeral installations and events. It is a laboratory that is meant to imagine new ways of doing things in the city.





PLACE DES URSULES Born close to the medieval city walls, the area has always hosted the scrap market. In 1841 the city bought the area and decided to transform it into a public square, thus transforming the entire urban structure. This demolition and reconstruction of the buildings around the square is still visible today in the residential buildings overlooking the east side of the area: there is still a portion of the old medieval block that breaks into the continuity of the 19th century faรงades.







The sprawling area to the west of the city presents itself as a disorderly planned suburbanisation, where poorly maintained residential buildings and commercial/ industrial areas coexist. There are also some old abandoned industrial buildings that fit perfectly into the list of empty spaces in the city.



Nantes (city and metropolitan area) has developed a real culture of recovery and conversion of its disused real estate assets. Three examples that can be given are a former tobacco factory converted into social housing, the former biscuit factory “LU” (which stood for Lefèvre Utile) transformed into the centre of contemporary culture, the “Lieu Unique” with exhibition spaces, restaurants, bookshops and so on, and, finally, the former lead foundries that now house a public library (La Fonderie) in the adjacent municipality of Couëron (located along the Loire, bordering to the east with Nantes). The role of industry has been decisive for the development of the city, both in socioeconomic and town-planning terms, given the influence it has had on the choices of changing physical geography on the one hand (i.e. the creation of the Île de Nantes as we know it today) and of moving towards town-planning development on the other. The same relationship with the Loire river has led to the creation of factories along the final stretch of the river from Nantes to the mouth near Saint-Nazaire, thus becoming a real “boulevard” of industry (steel poles, harbours, energy industries and power plants). From an economic point of view, both Nantes and Saint-Nazaire have a balanced differentiation between the three economic sectors.


Nantes does not have a real urban centre, it consists rather of a multi-centre divided into 4 distinct areas, although they are very close to each other: • The “Euronantes” business centre next to the central station; • The historical centre (itself divided into two easily recognizable parts); • The research centre (close to the Loire and partly on the northern shore of the island of Nantes) where the polyclinic and the main university centres are located; • The centre of creativity located entirely on the island of Nantes (in particular in the north-west of the island, where the area of “les Machines de l’île” and the new “Quartier de la création” are located). Nantes is one of the few French cities that, despite the economic crisis of 2008, is growing economically and demographically, succeeding in ensuring an important commitment by the city’s public administration in continuously promoting new urban projects. The city is also focused on tourism for the recovery, reuse and/or enhancement of abandoned or underused industrial spaces. “Voyage à Nantes” is the municipal and metropolitan agency for tourism in Nantes, or rather, it is an agency created specifically for the management and organization of the artistic-cultural journey that runs through the city of Nantes but also along the estuary of the Loire to Saint-Nazaire. It is an agile and politically independent public subject that has been able to renew the way in which city assets related to the “contemporary” cultural heritage are offered both to the tourist and to the citizen. Of particular importance is the “route of the estuary”, which brings together 26 places and 26 related artistic installations along the route of the Loire from Nantes to its estuary, in the Atlantic at Saint-Nazaire. This is a way of recovering buildings that are mostly industrial and linked to the economy of the region, repurposing them in a hybrid key, but with a strong territorial contextualization.








Since January 1, 2000, the former biscuit factory “LU” has reopened to the public in the form of “le Lieu Unique”, a new centre of contemporary culture, a space of artistic exploration and of convivial cultural ferment that mixes genres, cultures and audiences. The Unique Garden is a green space, below the terrace of the former LU factory, on the banks of the Saint-Félix canal. In 2013, the landscape architect Simone Kroll, in collaboration with the residents of the district, has turned this abandoned park into an artistic and natural garden skilfully blending flowers, edible plants, herbs and vegetables. After the garden was shut down in 2014 following work on the quay, it resumed in early March 2016. For this new stage, the ECOS Association wishes to set up a garden in tubs associated with vertical structures in order to create a space of “breathing” and conviviality on the banks of the river Erdre.








In the first half of the 1990s, the municipality of Nantes took the decision to completely redevelop the Île de Nantes by launching a series of interventions (largely completed) that led to the composition of the island as we see it today. In addition to the “creative” district, most of the resources (not only economic) have been spent to complete the ambitious project of “Les Machines de L’île”, that has made Nantes the undisputed kingdom of mechanics passing from the creative genius of Leonardo da Vinci to the visionary one of Jules Verne, all contextualized in the industrial past of Nantes that has characterized the island for decades. The main attractions are located within the so-called Parc de Chantiers, where there used to be the city’ s commercial harbour, of which there are still some remains. The western area of this space consists of three old hangars now used as exhibition spaces, restaurants and centres for associations. This is where the “hangar 32” space is located, which is the place where the city tells about present, past and future urban development through multimedia stations, posters, publications and scientific studies. A sort of “urban center” of great impact, especially with regard to those who approach for the first time the issues of urban planning and urban policies, and those who visit for the first time the city of Nantes.








Another area undergoing transformation is “La Carrière Chantenay” park, to the west of the historic centre and on the north bank of the Loire. It is not a real park, but an equipped square bordered all around by a wall of natural rock that constitutes the end of the entire Breton plateau. This is where two of the city’s main transformation projects are concentrated: one concerns the redevelopment of the river bank with the recovery (or demolition) of the existing and abandoned tertiary building; the other (much more ambitious) project is located inside the park and it is an appendix to “Les Machines de L’île” located on the island of Nantes. The “heron tree”, the new futuristic attraction that, like the now famous elephant, is destined to become the flagship of the creative forge of Les Machines, will rise right here. It is a large tree dotted with paths and footbridges that allow its ascent and on top of which will “fly” two huge herons from which visitors can enjoy a new view of the entire city.







The SAMOA (Société d’Aménagement de la Métropole Ouest Atlantique) is a public company (owned by: Nantes Métropole 58%, Municipality of Nantes - 17%, General Council of the Loire-Atlantique - 5%, Community of Agglomeration of the Region of Nazaire and the Estuary “CARENE” - 5%, Regional Council of the Countries of the Loire - 5%, SCOT” - 5% and the Municipality of Rezé - 5%) which has developed and managed the entire urban project of the Quartier de la Création of Île de Nantes and the management of the “Creative Factory”. The entire management sector of the 15 ha of the island is dedicated to becoming the city hub of creativity, research and new economy related activities. The objectives that SAMOA has set itself to achieve through the Creative Factory are: the creation of 90,000 m2 of activities and services (education, research, culture, leisure and economic activities); bring in a single district more than 4000 university students; set up a research centre that can accommodate 100 researchers from different disciplines; create 1000 jobs (directly and indirectly) in the field of creativity. The area today looks like a large construction site in which there are completely rebuilt blocks, others that are being completed and some that are still abandoned from the previous industrial past of the island.




SKATERPARK It is in Rue Paul Nizan that SAMOA, together with the groups of skaters in the city, have decided to create a park equipped for skateboarding as part of the project to redevelop the ÎIle de Nantes. Even if it is a consolidated facility, by its nature this space maintains a strong connotation of “temporary use”.






On an abandoned plot of land in the former Alstom factory in the Quartier de la Creation, since 2005 a garden open to the public has been developed, which looks like a wild park so that the plants inside are not regularly maintained and cared for. The only element that breaks into the wilderness of the vegetation is a metal grid that serves as a walkway on which to walk to enter the park. Once again, we are faced with the consolidated use that is presented as temporary.








The municipal slaughterhouse area within the industrial area on the south bank of the Loire (now completely demolished) was initially occupied by a Roma community and, at the beginning of 2018, its transformation by the artists’ collective “Pick-up Production” began with the aim of creating a temporary informal space in which to concentrate a whole series of activities related to art, entertainment and to create cohesion. At the moment there are two cafés, a fab lab where various types of workshops are organized, a circus tent that houses the main auditorium and some more or less functioning installations. The project took the name of “Transfert” and is proudly presented by its creators as a real bottom-up initiative, participated by the citizens of Nantes. Talking to one of the association’s leaders, however, it became clear that the project for this informal city was exactly what they wanted to create from the beginning in agreement with the municipality of Nantes. The real contribution of the population was therefore very marginal, since it was an innovative and attractive project but still an intervention piloted by a group (in this case the collective of artists) and lowered from above with the agreement of the municipality. As mentioned above, this is a temporary project since the use of the area until 2022 has been granted free of charge to the collective. The participation of the citizens, however, will continue more strongly with the passing of time, as it is a project in progress for which every year new attractions are designed and built. This is made possible because the space remains open to the public only in the summer months, while in the winter months the activity is all concentrated on the implementation of the projects for the following season. The investments for the realization of the Transfert project come from different sources: the public funds come from Nantes Metropole, from the City of Rezé, from the Pays de la Loire Region; then there are a part of private investments coming from the Crédit Agricole bank, on the one hand, and from a real estate operator, on the other hand, that by investing in the project has started a sort of investigation on the possible real estate development of the surrounding areas





ESCALE ATLANTIQUE - SAINT-NAZAIRE The harbour town of Saint-Nazaire is located on the estuary of the Loire, on the Atlantic Ocean. Its harbour is home to the largest shipyards in France. Some spaces inside the port have been recovered and inserted in the circuit of Voyage Ă Nantes, thus allowing to complete the route of the estuary that connects several central points of the industrial and economic development of the entire Nantes metropolitan area. The artistic opening of abandoned port areas has certainly made it possible to reestablish an interesting link between this infrastructure and the citizens of the entire region of Nantes.






3.The underground map of Hybrid SPACEs As anticipated in the first chapter, the analysis of the case studies through the interpretative keys has allowed the construction of a map that connects and relates the various explored spaces. The format chosen is precisely that of a map of the underground, in order to accentuate the fact that it has different interpretations (lines) when talking about a single space (station). To ensure a clearer reading, not all spaces are represented, but only those chosen for the project exhibition. However, in each space described so far the themes were signalled as labels, thus helping in providing the same information as that given in the map.




4. FINAL CONSIDERATIONS This first analysis of hybrid spaces carried out on the five European urban areas highlights two key aspects that were already partly considered within the “UNTITLED� research. The first concerns both the typology of spaces and their possible way of recovery/ reuse so that they are considered as hybrids within the urban fabric. Such typologies are somehow repeated from city to city, regardless of the context in which they are inserted and regardless of their past function (see for example the phenomenon of recovery of 19th century industrial buildings, that is easily repeated both in terms of architectural intervention and in the proposed or current use). The second aspect that emerges regards the difficulty (if not the impossibility) to categorize and label these spaces, allowing instead their redefinition and changing role in the transformation of the contemporary city. The photographic analysis and photo-interpretation that are presented in this volume highlight both the spatial and temporal dimensions of the hybrid space. The latter is significant in terms of the attention paid to what was presented in the first report of the research, concerning the temporality of the destinations of certain spaces. We are not just referring to temporary use but to the fact that in the course of its life, a space (natural or anthropic) will have various uses that differ from its original one. This obviously does not happen constantly and not even for any space or building existing in the urban fabric, but through the photographs collected and the case studies analysed, situations emerge in which even apparently consolidated structures can change their nature: this is one of the key factors of the contemporary city as a hybrid. The uses and connotations established and assigned by an urban plan are also questioned, and it is precisely the photographic analysis that reveals how, in some spaces, they are interpreted for a use or intrinsic value that deviates greatly from reality, and that at certain times of the day or year certain spaces seem to have a completely different function in the city. From what has been considered above comes the suggestion (which of course cannot be carried out and studied in this work) for a possible revision of the uses and categorisations dictated by urban planning tools at local level to allow for a broader vision on the planning of some spaces, considered as key to the development of the city. Obviously, this is not an innovative attempt per se. On the contrary, there are examples of national and local legislations that already include in planning systems the possibility to have a broader and non-sectorialized vision.


5. Acknowledgements The great challenge of this work was to be able to put together spaces from very different urban areas and, above all, to make these areas and buildings “talk” with each other. What has emerged is an atypical work in the analysis of urban phenomena that seeks to bring out the diversity of cities and, at the same time, similar developments that have occurred for some typologies of space. We could almost say that we are talking about one (or more) space belonging to five cities. Obviously, it is a work that has seen the direct and indirect participation of many people, for this reason, in addition to the actual members of the project UNTITLED of the DIST department of the Politecnico di Torino, it is our pleasure to thank those who met us and walked with us during the exploratory phase in July 2018. Thanks to professor Christelle Morel Journel of the University of Lyon in SaintÉtienne, professor Laurent Devisme of the National School of Architecture in Nantes, professor Samuel Mössner of the University of Münster, and professor Jakub Zasina of the University of Łódź.