By Mimi Lo
I personally am always attracted by post-industrial sites. The potential on sites where people built up factories and finally decided to close it for different reasons, leaving entire campus became an abandoned space, is great. The structures can be reused and developed with an ecology-beneficial garden. I have worked on several post-industrial projects for studio when I was in UMass Amherst. The beauty of the steel/ brick old factories and the opportunities on the site amazed me every time. I would like to share two post-industrial landscape architecture projects around the world.
The first one is SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Bethlehem Steel Corporation produced the steel for nearly 120-years. In 1995, the plant closed down. The community worked hard to save the historic mill from demolition and tried to bring back a new life to the site. In 2015, the 9.5 acre SteelStacks Arts + Cultural Campus was built. The project is successful from many aspects: social, cultural and environmental. The campus now acts as a “town green” space for events and engages with local community to support regional development initiatives. On the environmental aspect, many of the plants were brought to the site didn’t exist here before. This design is trying to broaden the biodiversity on the site.
The other project is Solana Ulcinj in Montenegro. The site is a salina which produced valuable salt, but after the privatization, the organization went bankrupt and the salina was abandoned. The site is on the route of Adriatic Flyway migratory route and also provides rich nutrient to wildlife, which resulted in the massive number of birds passing through every year. The design team came out with many ideas for the problems in different fields. How to keep the site as a habitat for the birds? How to keep producing salt but in an economic and interesting way? This project demonstrates an example that how we turn the abandoned space into a fun and functional place and the nature can also benefit from human’s presence. One of DG2 Design’s ongoing projects is also about wetland environment.