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The conference of TICCIH [International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage] is a global gathering for those interested in the future of industrial heritage. It takes place every 3 years and 2015 saw the 16th conference take place in Lille, northern France.

This year’s conference, based at Lille university, was a gathering place for over 400 delegates representing 50 different nationalities.  The debate focussed on the future of industrial heritage and it was a privilege to share some of our on-going creative re-use work at FCBStudios.

As the former powerhouse of the French textile coal mining industries, the Lille area was chosen as an exemplar of heritage conservation and, more latterly, for its ambitious programme of heritage-led regeneration.

Conference visits within the region included fascinating trips to see how the industrial town of Roubaix is being masterplanned for regeneration.  This included re-energised areas for new high-tec employment companies, and re-using former textile buildings for new cultural facilities like the ‘wool exchange’ cultural centre and town’s converted swimming pool which has been transformed to become an amazing new museum- still complete with pool!

Another day was dedicated to the mining region of Calais Nord. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012, it comprises a remarkable landscape of mining heritage and communities, including pit head sites sparking new community activities such as Metaphone at Colliery 9-9bis at Oignes, and the repair of remarkable ‘new town’ coal mining settlements like Loos-en-Gohelle, which were planned in early C20th in the English garden city model.

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But perhaps most remarkable of all is the new Louvre Lens museum by Saana Architects of Japan. As a brand new outpost of the famous Paris museum and gallery the EU150m new museum in Lens is located on a former coal mining pit-head.  It has a serene beauty in its context and incorporates views to both the surrounding mining landscape the new Lens football stadium as a tangible link between different kinds of cultural heritage.

The Lille region, and the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin in particular, provided an outstanding place for the TICCIH conference debate on the future of industrial heritage, and is definitely part of the ‘must-see’ list for heritage-led regeneration.

Geoff

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