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Åldrade världar eller framtidens urbana tillgångar? En studie längs Göteborgs industriella älvstrand

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Gabriella Olshammar
Publicerad i Fabrik & Bolig
Nummer/häfte 2016
Sidor 20-45
ISSN 0106-3324
Publiceringsår 2016
Publicerad vid Institutionen för kulturvård
Sidor 20-45
Språk sv
Ämnesord Industriell älvstrand, återbruk, urban glue, världens slut, Ringön, Göteborg
Ämneskategorier Kulturstudier, Tvärvetenskapliga studier


Aging worlds or future urban assets? An exploration along the industrial riverfront of Gothenburg English summary This article presents some thoughts from field studies that I am conducting at the moment in a small-scale and centrally located industrial site by the riverfront in Gothenburg, called Ringön. With the help of the concept ”urban glue” from the geographer Nigel Thrift I try to understand and highlight what this area can be understood to be today, in its present state and what its future uses may be. With urban glue the geographer Nigel Thrift wishes to argue that cities often bounce back from catastrophes remarkably quickly, and that this resilience has come to Western cities since they are “continuously modulated by repair and maintenance in ways that are so familiar that we tend to overlook them”. The urban glue includes activities as different as various kinds of cleaning, all forms of building maintenance, the constant fight to keep the urban fabric […] going”. Additionally I have taken the possibility to try and understand some aspects of my preliminary findings with inspiration from thoughts on “the End of the World” as described by the philosopher Déborah Danowski and the anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. In their text “Is There Any World to Come?” from 2015 they state that the problem of the end of the world is always formulated as a separation or divergence, and they schematically present this problem as an opposition between two poles. Danowski and Viveiros de Castro suggest that the end of the world can be understood as either a “world without us” – a world after the end of the human species – or as an “us without world”. The latter represents humanity bereft of world or environment, a persistence of some form of humanity or subjectivity after the end of the world. Relevant questions then are: What world?; And what subjectivity? In this article I try and reason about this, shedding the light on a sample of diverse activities that are going on in Ringön today. My own first visits to the Ringön area, some fifteen years ago, gave me an understanding of Ringön as a neighbourhood of haphazard small firms, rundown industrial sheds and battered harbour docks. Down by the river, facing one of the harbour basins, a business stood out as a profitable business with a cultural and distinguished feel to it. That was the Claessons Trätjära wholesale store. The store specializes in linseed oil paint, pine tar and consultancy in traditional craftmanship that is needed for the restoration of wooden boats and houses. Ringön is also home to various recycling businesses such as the recycling service IL Recycling. The company engages in recycling of all sorts of materials, such as batteries, glass, metal, corrugated cardboard, newspapers, electrical waste, lightbulbs, PET bottles, plastic, and scrap metals. On the company web page they inform that their recycling services ranges from “analysis, collection, and transport of residual products to sorting, processing, and delivery of recycled raw materials to industries.” Far off in one of the most remote corners of the Ringön site you run into the company Frog Marine that is specialised in solutions for marine infrastructure. On their webpage they explain that they are Scandinavia´s leading marine construction, contracting and diving company. Their assignments vary from diving and construction to consultancy in marine ecology and techniques. Governments, municipalities, county councils, and associations of the shipping industry all contract them. As a random visitor you might not grasp all of their potential since what you see is only a closed-off warehouse, an old barge that is moored in one of the harbour basins, and a couple of dredgers standing in the water. The Frog Marine company is one among few businesses in Ringön that is still directly connected to and dependent upon the river. A newcomer in this particular industrial environment comprises artist studios and graffiti art: the so called Hall of Fame project was initiated in 2015 by the artist Anna Bergman together with her landlord and a group of additional landlords in the area. An explicitly expressed aim with the Hall of Fame project is to attract new groups of visitors to the Ringön site. The owners of the buildings complain that they sometimes have vast empty space and that their rents are kept too low. They wish to change this. Of course, a discussion is going on whether or not the artists are being used to kick-start a gentrification process. A parallel project, that has started up from similar cultural grounds, is aiming at connecting artists in need of space with landlords within Ringön that are in need of tenants. The “Salt of Ringön” project started up in January 2016 within a larger municipal development program that is leading up to Gothenburg’s 400-year anniversary in 2021. Drawing on various activities that are taking place in Ringön today, such as those mentioned, I have come to consider at least three different subjectivities, that hold different attitudes and therefore perceive different kinds of – what I here wanted to test to explain as – vanishing worlds. The example represented by the Hall of Fame and the project “the Salt of Ringön” understands and highlights Ringön as an unpolished diamond, and a not-yet-established creative oasis. The projects are based on a comprehension, though, that this oasis might just live for short a while, awaiting larger transformations to come. The industrial character is seen as more or less redundant – and the creative oasis itself is perceived as alive and constantly-in-motion. The subjectivity here thus presupposes a “collective us” that is constantly creating the world anew in any recently identified unpolished diamond. The second example is represented by both the Frog Marine services and the IL Recycling business. Starting from my own first impression – and I must admit, my initial bias – about the IL Recycling environment I have tried to picture an outsider’s view that is quite common towards environments with simple old buildings. To some, I argue, areas such as Ringön awaken ideas of improductivity, ruin, and economic decline and trigger an interest to produce novel urban form, and to alter the urban imagery. This means urban transformation ideals where industrial waterfront sites are turned into new forms of public amenity that can attract new businesses and new citizens. Thus, interests that see areas like Ringön as worlds soon to be lost – although not to a greater loss, but to make way for something better. Claessons trätjära, furthermore, awakens a responsible wish to care for and attend to the past in the present. This represents the heritage practices, that function toward assembling futures. And this future, I would say, is one in which the actors (including myself) believe it important to remember where we come from, how we got here, what made us into what we are – and also what made our skills and societal functions into what these are. I would argue that this sense of importance relies on a belief that the contemporary modern world – highly technological, containerized and virtually connected – will cease to exist, sooner or later. And that when this happens, the greater human community will need a great portion of preparedness and skills to start over again. The Ringön context that I intend to delve deeper into is its realm of resilient qualities that – as I have come to understand them – are to the advantage of the whole city. Keeping areas such as Ringön alive and in constant recycling, repair and maintenance is a way to keep at least an apocalyptic end to the world at bay.

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