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The Factories: Conversions for Urban Culture

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Birkhäuser, 2002. 280pp. £30

This book is the creation of a pan-European network called TransEuropeHalles, writes Andrew Mead , with members in Croatia, Slovenia, Romania and Russia, not just France, Germany and the UK.The projects that it features are all adaptations of redundant buildings - industrial, mercantile, military - for new cultural use; as a rule by marginal, not mainstream, groups.There is scant architectural information, however - no plans, no technical accounts, no sense of how new has been integrated with old.The images are more likely to be close-ups of someone juggling or playing an accordion than of masonry or trusses, while the stories are vaguely 'inspiring'ones of obstacles overcome amid social / political complexities.How instructive they are is another matter: it is hard to determine just who the book is aimed at, or how readers are meant to profit from it.Pictured is one of the few buildings that really registers - the Kaapelitehdas in Helsinki, a former cable factory, now a 'cultural and artistic centre'.

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