PRE-2. Where past meets the future – post-industrial landscapes of Silesia Metropolis (GZM)

The Metropolis GZM (Górnośląsko-Zagłębiowska Metropolis) is a region in transformation. It is located in the area which used to be the largest industrial region in Poland, formed as a result of intensive development of heavy industries that started in Europe in the second part of the 18th century by industrial revolution. It is known from its hard coal mines, iron and steel works, factories and heavy pollution. At the beginning of 1990s, along with the transformation of political system of Poland and the transition from a centrally controlled economy to a market economy, it occurred that traditional industries developed in Upper Silesia are backward compared to the rest of Europe so its restructuring proved necessary. As a result many mines, foundries or factories had to be closed down. In a consequence in urban space appeared brown fields, which needed revitalization.

After 30 years of transformation the landscape of the Metropolis GZM has changed dramatically. It is no longer grey and full of chimneys, blast furnaces or hoisting towers. It developed into a unique color-full mosaic of modern post-industrial spaces. The field trip will show the diversity of the region and variety of ways in which degraded post-industrial spaces have been changed here. Its route will connect iconic post-industrial sites, preserved to commemorate the past and regenerated to serve new functions, as well as objects still waiting to be noticed and to gain a new life. We will visit among others the historical coal mine (with the unique underground route which includes sightseeing on foot and by boat), the park arose in place of brownfields, a complex of post-mining lakes, waste tips no longer in use where spontaneous vegetation succession might be observed and extraordinary workers’ housing estates.