Industrial heritage along canal - zones : conversion as sustainable resource for urban growth. The case of Piushaven in Tilburg, the Netherlands

G.I. Curulli, Ludo Hermans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademic

14 Downloads (Pure)


INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE ALONG CANAL - ZONES: CONVERSION AS SUSTAINABLE RESOURCE FOR URBAN GROWTH. THE CASE OF PIUSHAVEN IN TILBURG, THE NETHERLANDS. Industrial canal zones are those abandoned factory areas along watercourses that have made distinctive many areas at the edge of a consolidated urban structure. Nowadays, their originally peripheral locations have acquired central positions in the settled cities and they are targeted for plans of urban growth. They are the contemporary in-between, liminal areas of the city. The idea of a sustainable growth of the city, through a ‘completion’ process of the existing fabric, originates from here. This is contrary to traditional development plans, which conceive an old idea of urban renewal as a neat tidy city and thus propose to ‘wipe out’ any irregularity. Indeed, those areas suggest a different idea of urbanity and represent potentially alternative morphological structures, which offer distinctive conditions that neither the outskirts nor the city centre can meet. Furthermore, the reuse of canal zones and the appropriate conversion of the industrial buildings, offers incredible opportunities for cities to reconnect to their water’s edge, to recapture economic investments and to attract people back to deserted and isolated areas. In other words, these sites can be the source of wealth for their city. The authors’ reference is the former industrial canal-zone of Piushaven in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Tilburg was the ‘wool capital’ of the country until the 60’s and its canal zone, with valuable buildings of different scales and architectural styles, was the most prominent industrial area serving this purpose. In the last 10 years, Piushaven has been the focus of the Municipality through a project of revitalization of the area. Instead of ‘eating’ virgin land, the conversion of the site and the particular attention for the industrial heritage, has become a resource aiming at redefining the urban identity while offering available land for plans of future urban growth. The strategy adopted by the Municipality is dynamic and ‘receptive’: it considers the industrial heritage buildings the initiators of the revitalization process; accordingly, old and new stand next to each other in a concerted and sympathetic growth. This paper will discuss first the character of this industrial canal zone; secondly, the meaning of reuse of the existing buildings in the strategy adopted by the municipality (so as to interpret the local identity); than, it will evaluate the results achieved by this approach which is work-in-progress. The goal of this paper is to prove that former industrial areas are vital territories; and to work with the identity and sense of place of the site is highly valuable so to offer a solution of continuity with the existing city structure. Accordingly, former industrial buildings are regarded as indispensable heritage and beneficial resources for a sustainable development. Their conversion experiments with the delicate balance between acceptance and refusal, while asking us the ‘amount’ of design we are entitled to make. The study case of Piushaven is to be included within a larger research plan by the TU/e, Eindhoven University of Technology, Department of Architecture. It regards the re-use of the industrial canal zones of five big cities (or B5) in the southern region (Brabant) of The Netherlands and it is in collaboration with the Province and the five local Municipalities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLe patrimoine industriel : nouvelles politiques urbaines et sens de la reconversion, 21-24 septembre 2011, Belfor
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Industrial heritage along canal - zones : conversion as sustainable resource for urban growth. The case of Piushaven in Tilburg, the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this