Taking stock of the industrial heritage in the Czech Rep

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The Czech Republic is a country with a fascinating industrial heritage all too often overshadowed by the Renaissance or the Baroque. Anyone who has ever travelled through Prague's formerly working-class districts of Karlin and Holesovice, for example, or has cycled in the north or east of the country, will have taken note of beautiful but crumbling 19th century factories, forgotten textile plants and old mills, falling apart girder by girder, brick by brick.

There have been some changes: the last five years especially have seen a significant rise in successful conversions of old buildings, especially in Prague. New life has painstakingly been breathed into industrial buildings converted into new cultural centres, apartments, businesses, and shopping areas.

While not all projects have been successful - some have come under heavy criticism -buildings gutted and redesigned with little or no 'place-memory', more investors and developers are beginning to approach projects with a greater understanding. That in part thanks to the work of institutions like the Research Centre for Industrial Heritage. The centre launched an important biennale and conference in Prague this week called "Vestiges of Industry".

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