City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

14 Cities: Re-industrial City

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Part of the 14 Cities series:

"The advances in various light manufacturing technologies throughout the early part of the 21st century — rapid prototyping, 3D printing and various local clean energy sources — enabled a return of industry to the city. Noise, pollution and other externalities were so low as to be insignificant, and allied to the nascent interest in digitally-enabled craft at the turn of the century, by the early 2020s suburbs had become light industrial zones once again.

Waterloo, Alexandria and the Inner West of Sydney through to Pyrmont once again became a thriving manufacturing centre, albeit on a domestic scale, as people were able to ‘micro-manufacture’ products from their backyard, or send designs to mass-manufacture hubs supported by logistics networks of electric delivery vans and trains. Melbourne had led the way through its nurturing of production in the creative industries and its existing built fabric.

In an ironic twist, former warehouses and factories are being partially converted from apartments back into warehouses and factories. Yet the domestic scale of the technologies means they can coexist with living spaces, actually suggesting a return to the craftsman’s studio model of the Middle Ages. The ‘faber’ movement — faber, to make — spread through most Australian cities, with the ‘re-industrial city’ as the result, a genuinely mixed-use productive place — with an identity."

Notes: Another concern of the last year or so, growing out of my various work around creative cities and industrial policy in the past and now aligned to interest in rapid prototyping/contemporary manufacturing and the ever-narrowing gap between design and manufacturing – see the 'Røde, and the new manufacturing' and the 'New Nordic Region' pieces, amidst various others. With a bit of luck, I'll be working on some actual urban development projects concerning this idea this year.


One response to “14 Cities: Re-industrial City”

  1. Kurt Avatar

    Nice! Am loving reading this series, Dan…
    Have you read Cory Doctorow’s most recent novel Makers yet? As usual with him, it’s brimming with lots of ideas about the kind of industrial future you’re exploring here…


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