“We are continuing an industrial revolution here”: Assembling, experiencing and leveraging the affective atmospheres of post-industrial workspaces

Yosha Wijngaarden*, Brian J. Hracs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

From Chicago to Cape Town, post-industrial creative workspaces have become ubiquitous in cities around the world. Although they are often promoted as unique and authentic, many appear to share similar architectural aesthetics including steel beams and monumental chimneys. Existing research shows that creatives are attracted by embedded networks, opportunities for knowledge exchange and the post-industrial aesthetic of these spaces. Yet, we know less about the appeal of industrial heritage and how the ‘thick’ affective atmospheres of these post-industrial workspaces are assembled, experienced and leveraged by workers and managers. This paper draws on a qualitative case study of 8 post-industrial workspaces in the Netherlands, involving 73 interviews with site managers and creative workers, participant observation and an analysis of the websites and Instagram feeds of the workspaces. It explores the interconnected nature of the spaces and stories associated with the sites to identify and better understand the range of material and immaterial elements that combine to produce affective atmospheres. The paper demonstrates how developers fuse industrial aesthetics (layouts) with industrial heritage (historical narratives) to produce unique and attractive workspaces. It then considers how creatives experience and commodify their chosen workspaces. While specific industrial aesthetics are shown to offer a valuable alternative to ‘regular’ office space, connections to the past provide workers with motivation, inspiration and opportunities for identity construction. The paper also highlights how creatives leverage the symbolic value associated with their unique post-industrial workspaces to generate distinction through self and place-branding strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103944
JournalGeoforum
Volume148
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2024 The Author(s)

Research programs

  • ESHCC M&C

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