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Turning industrial sites into art factories


Photo: Tõnu Tunnel

New ideas for old buildings: Estonia and Latvia host many striking former industrial sites. Their commercial activities may have screeched to a halt but creative people are trying to create new stories around their legacy - by turning them into tourist sites or artful enclaves.

Industrialisation has changed the face of Europe - and of the Baltics. The rapid industrial development which started in the mid-eighteenth century saw a rapid growth in manufacturing in the Russian empire. New factories were built left, right, and centre, especially in the then-Baltic provinces. Within present-day Estonia and Latvia gigantic production units sprang up, the biggest in Europe at that time. Both areas were so heavily industrialised that there still were factories and other infrastructure left standing following the two world wars.

Continuing the trend, the new Soviet ruling elite in the Baltics adapted the existing industry structures for the central planning excesses of the Soviet economic system.

Nowadays these former production units are no longer functional. Instead they have been replaced by new businesses which produce much less than the gigantic volumes that were churned out by the industries of the past.

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