Marion Real, Carlotta Fontana Valenti, Pietro L. Verga, Pablo Muñoz, Ashley Laflin, and Milena Juarez
Humans today recognize the environmental damages provoked by the Anthropocene and the increasing consequences of the adoption of industrial mechanism, mass media industries and digital and algorithmic technologies. In parallel with the rise of comfort and technological progress over the past decades that make lives easier for a large part of the population, individuals now have to grapple with alienation exacerbated due to technologies, the polarisation of power, disconnection from their environment and knowledge deprivation. There is a clear need for creative processes that engage people in knowledge acquisition on how to do and make, how to live, and how to conceptualise and theorise to be able to face current societal challenges and avoid massive cognitive degeneration. At a collective scale, this also asks for caring about how the means of production and the work situations and systems impact the well-being of people and the natural ecosystems in which they evolve. After years of research and innovation practices in mainstream and alternative economies, it is still hard to define the outlines of convivial technologies and more appropriate forms of sustainable production. Such complex issues require time and space for collective experimentations to be better explored and documented.
The work initiated by the maker movement within the Fab City Initiative is a grounded niche of emerging practices for locally productive models at city/regional scales, where people are in constant search for more circularity, openness and inclusion in the way cities produce what they consume; these practices benefit from global peer-learning to share knowledge, designs and experiences. In parallel with the development of the Fab City Strategic Action Plan, curious researchers and practitioners initiated Centrinno, a collaborative research project that zooms into the creative regeneration of historic industrial areas, intuiting that understanding the past of productive areas and their associated forms of making is key to foresee the potential for productive activities in the future. The project aims to use “heritage as a catalyst for innovation and social inclusion, boosting a diverse, inclusive, and innovative urban economy, holding true to the ecological challenges of our time.”
In this paper, the authors introduce Centrinno’s approach and conceptual framework as an overarching structure for experimentation that enables sharing, exchanging, and discussing the urban regeneration of historic industrial areas. It relies on place-based experimentation that intervenes systemically among five core concepts (circular economy, social inclusion, vocational training, innovation spaces and heritage) and across three action areas (ecosystem mapping, community development and Fab City Hubs Implementation).
Based on three years of action and research of iterative design and experimentation, the authors present the Centrinno framework as a compass for local change agents to co-design regenerative processes in urban areas and reflect on their practices, sharing lessons learnt, research gaps and new opportunities that enable local systemic changes towards convivial forms of production.