Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tapping a creative mine in Belgium

When I was in Salzburg over the weekend, I had a talk with Mark Vanderbeeken, a guy working in Torino (Italy) but by birth and education a Belgian. But he regularly goes to Belgium, not for a family visit, but for consulting with an exciting project, C-Mine. There is some Dutch language documentation about the project and the only English language documentation is available through Mark’s blog.

Derelict areas are breeding grounds for new activities, including new media. In the UK an area in London became a centre of activity. The movie city of Rennes in France is developing into a creative area. IN Amsterdam (the Netherlands) the old NDSM shipyard is being developed to an area for the creative industry with amongst other the MTV studios. Like the North-East in England and Zollverein, Essen in Germany, the Belgian former mining area of Winterslag/Genk is using creativity as a tool to transform the area in an innovative, sustainable and qualitative way and to generate new approaches to education, economic development, culture and tourism. The initiative is called "C-Mine", where the “C'’ refers to creativity.

The creativity factor is embodied by:
Educational activitiesThe educational activities are centred around the media and design academy (site in Dutch only) which is now planning an experience design lab to integrate its various educational functions and increase their value for innovation and regional economic development. The educational mission of the academy and the site in general is aimed at innovative concept and product development. The academy will provide bachelor and master programmes as well as company training.

Creative economyThe design lab (see above) is also at the heart of C-Mine’s strategy for the development of a creative knowledge economy: to provide new input to creative and innovative project and product thinking, to be an incubator of new ideas for the local business community, to attract new design companies and stimulate a design approach within existing ones, to help spin off new companies, and to be a creative project space for entrepreneurial organisations.
CultureA brand new cultural centre will connect artistic creation and production to the development of a creative economy, with each providing added value to the other.
Tourism and recreationC-mine will be developed as a meaningful experience site for all kinds of visitors, combining its historical mining heritage - including its impressive machine halls - with new creative and design activities.

The city has recently completed a comprehensive master plan. Many of the facilities will already be operational by 2007 and 2008. A more complete overhaul of the site will take place thereafter. The architectural studio 51N4E has been assigned with the redesign of the existing buildings and the development of new infrastructure. The project is financed in part by the EU’s European Regional Development Fund.

Uptill now information is provided by the City of Genk and is currently only available in Dutch:- press release (pdf, 68 kb, 2 pages)- project brochure (pdf, 272 kb, 10 pages)

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Blog Posting Number: 498

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