Like a jukebox of stories

Words by Reinwardt Academy

Like a jukebox of stories

Like a jukebox of stories: we present you the Living Archive

On the occasion of the CENTRINNO Consortium Meeting in Copenhagen on 23-25 May, we are pleased to open to the public our Living Archive, the newest CENTRINNO resource, on top of the already released Cartography and Fab City Hub Toolkit resources. Check it out here:

But what is the Living Archive?

This webspace brings together many stories collected by nine Fab City Hub teams from all over Europe. The collection has been carefully assembled by these teams who have been learning about, co-creating and applying participatory heritage-making approaches, emotion networking methodology, oral history principles and creative perspective-taking.


Heritage making as a potential

The CENTRINNO project builds from and researches the potential of heritage to act as a catalyst for transforming urban society to be more circular and more inclusive. The point of departure for this are nine former industrial sites, and their heritage. But what is heritage?

Really. Ask yourself. What is heritage? To define it exactly might miss the point, given that almost anything could be heritage: landscapes, buildings, tools, traditions, artworks, waste, materials, and so on. It can be useful to think of heritage from its Latin etymological roots, as what is inherited from the past. Whether positively or negatively understood, whether claimed or marked as something that should denote a break from the past, BY REFERRING TO THE PAST, PEOPLE MAKE sense of their present and future.

Heritage is a concept, applied on both institutional and grass-roots levels to elements of the past that are confronted with rapid change, loss, and alienation, and as such always involves conflicting interests and emotions. Heritage is made, whether consciously or unconsciously, through preservation, attention, care, and remembering – or a lack thereof.


Connecting with and from a place

Heritage responds to a rapidly-changing world, therefore suggesting the question: what should be safeguarded as heritage, in the urgent era of climate change and growing socioeconomic inequality? This question is relevant in all nine pilot sites and beyond. Places which are known for their role in industrial production in previous centuries.
We seek the stories that comprise the lived reality of these sites, but which have not always been given equal weight, having been overlooked, unheard, unseen. Perhaps these can help us understand what heritage is and does today.


Whose story?

Living Archive Network


Our Living Archive encompasses a growing number of stories from the nine pilot sites of CENTRINNO.  Some of these delve into the sites’ histories, where others bring in present-day perspectives. Some of these present an observation from a narrator point of view, while others present the voice of a non-human entity. All of the stories have been collected and curated locally. The Living Archive celebrates this approach as each story added is justified by the local teams. As such, the collection does not attempt to build a wide database of histories, but a focused and ‘living’ collection which is aligned to the local efforts of the nine pilot teams.

Do you have stories or memories related to these buildings that you want to share with us? What do you feel is missing? Help us build this alternative history of making.


Relationships. Technically speaking

The Living Archive design and development, conceptualised by the Reinwardt Academy Research Group and A++ (of web designer Alessandro Amato), is detailed in the Living Archive Beta version – D2.5.

Some key features of the chosen approach include:

  • Stories are curated following a critical heritage approach and applying participatory methodologies, including Emotion Networking.
  • Stories are conceived as a singular narrative each. To that end the project co-created a “one sentence summary” structure, to enable an easily identifiable structure underpinning each story.
  • Each of the segments of the one-sentence-summary structure then forms a category for a multitude of tags. Thus harnessing connectivity among the tories.
  • All stories together on the website, through the many tags, are put in one relational grid.

For example, take the story collected in Tallinn about Roland the Beekeeper. Though short in narrative, its many tags provide it a relational path to many other stories, either in relation to the making of a food, or the ecological values underpinning it.


Tallinn story: Roland the Beekeeper


Living is breathing

The now open Living Archive will in the rest of 2023 continue to collect and co-curate stories with the nine participating Fab City Hubs. Watch this space!


Reinwardt Academy