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Approaches to industrial heritage in urban design

Industrial heritage is an essential manifestation of a society’s industrial culture, conveying the cultural and historical landscape as well as recollections of the city’s recent modernization, as well as maintaining and constructing spaces and materials for the city’s public memory. As governments have become more aware of the value of world heritage, multi-perspective and multi-disciplinary research on industrial heritage has grown in popularity around the world. [1]

Definition of industrial heritage

The 2003 Charter of Nizhny Tagil, which embodies the worldwide community’s understanding of the underlying idea of industrial legacy, is one of the more authoritative definitions of industrial heritage in the world. According to the Charter, industrial legacy is defined as the relics of industrial culture that have historical, technological, social, architectural, or scientific value. [2]

The value of industrial heritage

Industrial legacy has a high cultural value. Industrial heritage, as a witness to history, documents the technological progress and technological innovation of previous decades and centuries, and is a projection of people’s recollections of the past. Industrial districts typically have the advantage of being adjacent to transportation hubs such as roads, canals, and trains, and thus have a high potential for comprehensive development and rehabilitation.

Directions for the regeneration and conservation of industrial heritage

Industrial heritage renewal goes beyond spatial transformation and functional replacement to create a “cultural product” that communicates industrial culture and achieves sustainable development. According to the Australian Bala Charter, industrial legacy plant, machinery, and equipment should be sought for “adaptive reuse” rather than preservation. [3] Industrial sites also create space for the emergence of a new type of heritage tourism – one that focuses on industrial history and builds on it. [4]


  1. industrial museums

Unlike cities in Germany such as Duisburg and Oberhausen, which have implemented suggestions to transform industrial heritage into cultural and entertainment facilities, the United Kingdom has focused on reinventing the character of old industrial areas through the heritage of industrial culture in order to promote the development of industrial heritage tourism. In South Wales’s old industrial base, for example, 56 of the region’s 73 industrial sites include museums exhibiting industrial culture. [2]


  1. heritage park

Heritage parks, which use industrial sites’ natural features, are another popular regeneration and development method. The Seattle Gas Works Park, High Line Park, Butchart Gardens, and North Duisburg Landscape Park in Germany are examples. Heritage parks can be converted into eco-industrial parks, where byproducts, waste, energy, and shared amenities benefit the environment and economy. Others utilise ecological technology, engineering methods, and physicochemical ways to repair, cleanse, and improve abandoned land ecosystems for sustainable development. [5]


  1. creative cultural industrial park

Many huge former factories in China have been converted into creative and cultural industrial parks, such as the 1978 Cultural and Creative Park in Guangzhou and the 798 Creative Industrial Park in Beijing. Designers successfully design and reuse existing space functions to merge creative office, cultural display, living interaction, and leisure and entertainment in order to successfully transform industrial history into a popular and comprehensive cultural and creative gathering place.


[1] Tang Bin, Yang Jianqiang. Towards a sustainable industrial heritage landscape conservation – the practice of industrial landscape conservation in Blaenavon, UK[J]. Chinese Garden, 2022,38(04):104-109. DOI:10.19775/j.cla.2022.04.0104.

[2] Zhang Jianjian, Christophe Tweed. A study on the renewal of industrial heritage in the perspective of industrial cultural heritage – a case study of the UK[J]. Journal of Architecture,2019(07):94-98.

[3] Zhang Huanzhou, Shen Xuwei, Wu Maoying. Research on the preservation of industrial heritage and the continuation of urban memory in waterfront areas: an example of industrial heritage in Gongchenqiao West of Hangzhou Canal[J]. (Geoscience,2015,35(02):183-189. DOI:10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2015.02.008.

[4] Szromek, A.R., Herman, K. & Naramski, M. (2021) ‘Sustainable development of industrial heritage tourism – A case study of the Industrial Monuments Route in Poland’, Tourism management (1982), 83p. 104252.

[5] Peng Jing. Research on ecological restoration and landscape reconstruction model of urban abandoned land [D]. China University of Geosciences, 2018.

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