Transformation: From Warehouse to Cultural Center

The debate on how the south bank of the city of Göteborg should transform, has at times been loud. Göteborg, an old industrial city, has had to deal with major changes the last decades. The city is devided by a canal, and as the shipping industry on the north bank had to close down, telecom and media companies grew up. In the beginning of 2000, changes started on the south bank and a tunnel was built to lead traffic under the city, creating new space on ground. After six years, a new tunnel and the heavy traffic going under the city center, the question was raised: How should the new spaces be used? Ambitious plans were made and a large democracy project to involve inhabitants together with experts as architects, cultural and Art practitioners, sociologists, the South Bank Process (Södra Älvstrandsprocessen) took form. Nätverkstan was involved in the process, in the planning and formation. The results presented by the five different groups showed a variety of creative solutions of how to use the space; housing on different economic levels, public spaces, activity areas and lots of green parts. But then it stopped. The results were never taken seriously, the process stopped and was never put into the formal process of city planning in the municipality. Since then articles, among them a series of articles by the journalist Mark Isitt on how bad city planning in Göteborg works and how the suburbs has been exploited has been published.

Situated in the center of the south bank, in the middle of the city close to the river, is the old warehouse (Lagerhuset) where cultural practitioners have been working since 1999. Small-scale cultural journals, publishing houses, photographers, education, medialabs have been housing  in the building, producing culture spread in the whole region. The house is placed in an area, Järntorget, known for it’s entrepreneurial initiatives, specifically cultural entrepreneurs within music, fashion, bookshops, design, film, theatre, dance, coffee shops. It has been possible to find cheap localities and the clusters formed are important networks supporting creativity and drive. But among politicians, it has not always been politically correct. The urge to clean-up the streets (Långgatorna) from unappropriate businesses and renovate buildings, to gentrificate the area, has been strong. It hasn’t happened yet, but is on and off discussed and debated.

The decision made by the Cultural Committee of the municipality of Göteborg yesterday is therefore a break through. The bottom floor of the old warehouse will be transformed to a center for culture, with a coffee shop, restaurant and several stages for different cultural activities and performances. It will, hopefully, become an important center that together with the activities already in the house and around the area of Järntorget will be one key factor to enable the growth of cultural and artistic intiatives.

The transformation has already started and opening is set to January 1, 2010. Read the article of Göteborg in New York Times, published in 2007.

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8 Responses to “Transformation: From Warehouse to Cultural Center”

  1. [...] Now the site, alvstaden, is opened again through the means of the internet journal Alba and Nätverkstan. In Swedish, but still. Read the former post about this and the new cultural center here. [...]

  2. [...] . The democracy project the South Bank Process in Göteborg, can be found on “Transformation: from Warehouse to Cultural Center” and “Democracy projects”. Read also about the Encatc Working Group “Creative [...]

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

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