The second life of the Industrial Plant Promprylad

Last week, on July, 21-23, in Ivano-Frankivsk with a working visit there was Sigrid Niemer who also is a co-founder and leader of UfaFabrik in Berlin. It is one of the first examples in Europe of a successfully implemented project of revitalization on the industrial zone, and now - a well-known cultural and educational platform. The UfaFabrik in 2004 was awarded by the United Nations under the UN-Habitat program as “Best Practice for Improving the Living Environment”. To share the experience Sigrid Niemer came to the invitation of the Teple Misto platform and with the support of the German Embassy in Ukraine.

Side view

The question of reorientation of industrial objects, which lost their primary production function, is relevant for the post-Soviet countries, Ukraine in particular. We can see attempts or successful examples of revitalization projects in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv. There are also uninvolved post-industrial areas in Ivano-Frankivsk. Sigrid  Niemer's visit is important,  in particular, in the context of the “Promprylad” project which involves upgrading and renovating the industrial space to a site for creative business, urban, artistic and educational projects and processes.

— For three days in Frankivsk Sigrid Niemer met with different groups of people who are tied to the “Promprylad”  project. It is municipal administration, participants and a team of the pilot project “Promprylad” and wide public. It was important for each group. For municipal administration it was important to understand, how can project like this affect the city. For a team which  is working on that project - to look at it from other side, keep away from urgent questions and analyse deeper.

Sigrid who works in this subjects for about 39 years, there was what to say, she combined all through links into one picture. The idea to invite her  was related first of all to the desire to have an external expert, who would have a critical look at our project. Some of her thoughts refer to details, other to the project on the whole. A good point, in her opinion, is that we start with the pilot, not immediately entering the scale of the object. Also, our guest drew attention to the ratio of the city - its size, population - with the object: “Promprylad” is quite large on the scale of Frankivsk, if we compare the UfaFabrik, and not with all of Berlin, but only with regard to the environment (almost 19 000 meters on 450 000 inhabitants). So the question is how to fill the factory space and how it can work. We talked on the subject of economics, which is often a decisive factor in making a decision. And also about communication and intra-team dynamics: our work on the project,  how it communicates outside, and how it reflects on its quality, — Oleksandr Shevchenko summarizes a few days work, coordinator of the program “Urbanistics” of the “Teple Misto” platform.

The project which changes the city

With the participation of a German expert, on July 21, took place round table discussion where “Revitalization of industrial zones within the city: Berlin's experience and perspectives for Ivano-Frankivsk” was held. Representatives of the Ivano-Frankivsk City Council and participants of the “Promprylad”  project joined to the discussion. Presenting the project, the head of the “Teplie Misto” platform Yuriy Filuk reminded, that now lasted the second stage - the launch of the pilot project. After repairing, in autumn, one of the floors will be filled with different functions and activities, such as rides, media hub, urban laboratory, dance school, offices of innovation companies and investment management IFCC, cafes and children's space. The round table participants agree that in general the project is large-scale and difficult and its implementation will definitely change the city. In particular, the deputy mayor of Ivano-Frankivsk, Bogdan Bilyk, believes that the project is perspective and can contribute to lower youth unemployment.

After visiting round table discussion and the “Promprylad” Sigrid Niemer also shared her thoughts:

— It seemed interesting to me that “Promprylad” is located very close to the city center: you can easily get there I do not know much about your region, but would suggest that people can get buses or trains to the city and then go to “Promprylad” on an events or on certain services. I learned a lot about the project: surprised by its scope and ambitious plans. I look forward to seeing when the pilot project will be implemented and I'm curious to see how the project will develop. Many things can happen after five years which at this moment we are not able to imagine, because it is life and permanent development. The result will be unknown, but I hope that this project will last for at least 38 years, as UfaFabrik.

The history of successful transformation

The history of UfaFabrik began in 1979. A group of young active people who were looking for their own way of life and expression in the post-war transformation in Germany, wanted to create a creative space in Berlin (the western part of the city that was part of the Federal Republic of Germany), where they could live and work. The ideal place for their plans they considered former UFA film studio (Universum Film AG), where the film was previously made. According to Sigrid, who from the very beginning was a participant of these transformations, the group had no money and a well-thought out plan but had a vision and willingness to invest in their future. The  German government supported an active life in western Berlin, and the local administration wanted to demolish the film factory. In reply activists organized a street art event, talked about their plans to local residents, openly and with humor, and finally got the support of the community and eventually got a contract for the lease of UFA premises. In general, communication with neighbors from the beginning attracted a lot of attention and at the gate UfaFabrik hung the message,“We invite everyone”. The community's welfare here is seen in the unity of four factors: cultural activity, social equality, economic prosperity and the permanent environment.

Today UfaFabrik is more than  18 sq km, 7 buildings, 220 employees (35 of them are residents), 200,000 visitors per year and hundreds of different events. In general, there are three areas of priority: art and culture, ecology and permanent development, social projects and community engagement. There are different exhibitions, performances, concerts, performances, festivals, conferences, workshops are held. During the day everyone can find something to their liking —from sports and circus to dancing and theater, from eco-projects and an animal farms for children to organic baking and hospitality. This is an open ground where many activities are oriented to the children and family. At UfaFabrik, for example, there are cultural and neighboring centers, a circus, a free school, a cafe, a bakery, a shop, and a guest house. The most interesting is that the profit comes from  the sale of energy generated by solar panels (environmental is here in the priority). Although ufaFabrik is located not in the center of Berlin, this “cultural oasis” is not skipped by tourists.

UfaFabrik and “Promprylad” are different according to the scale and location in the city, according to approaches and model, under conditions, which are implemented. However, they also have a common. In both cases we talk about creating a space in the city for sharing knowledge, ideas and practical experience which will open new opportunities for professionals and community, for the city and for the region.

The “Promprylad” project includes the renovation and re-engineering of the industrial space of the “Promprylad” plant in Ivano-Frankivsk on crossing of such directions, as creative economy, urbanism, innovative education and contemporary art. Today lasts the second stage — the start of the pilot part (repairing of part of the building, updating and filling its by first functions). Project partners: “Teple Misto”, PO “Insha Osvita”, Garage Gang, CANactions. MitOst, UBDP.

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