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The chain of competence and venture in retro-fying practices of place-making

Conference contribution
Authors Ingrid Martins Holmberg
Anneli Palmsköld
Published in SIEF2017 13th Congress, Ways of dwelling, Göttingen, Germany 26–30 March
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Conservation
Language en
Keywords ‘urban glue’, chain of competence and venture, real estate owners, building craftsmen, market for reused building material; conservation consultants
Subject categories Technology and culture, Ethnology, Cultural Studies, Settlement studies


This paper presents research on the various ways in which urban spaces, in terms of the city fabric itself, are transformed in parallel with the emergence of the urban 2nd hand markets of concern. Departing from Thrift's (2008:211) notion of "urban glue" - the on going "activities of repair and maintenance" that are taking place in the city and that make it hold against both exploitation and entropy - our research has identified a certain chain of competence and venture that is particularly apparent in Gothenburg's retro-districts. The chain consists of the real estate owner; the building craftsmen devoted to traditional building techniques at the expense of regular modernization; the market for reused building material and details; the conservation consultant that mediates between the other. Together they enable the transformation of ordinary old buildings, street and entire quarters into places where history and historical layers are materially enhanced and communicated through renovation, restoration or reconstruction. These places, in terms of entire buildings, facades or shop interiors, provide a performative infrastructure for the second hand market, and thus can be seen as yet another layer of circulation on the re:heritage market. The research also concerns the specific market for the reuse of old building material (windows, doors, bricks or doorknobs): its spectrum of providers and consumers, its goods and its ideologies and ethics.

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