Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

21 June 2011

Verdant Works as Iconically Postindustrial

The Verdant Works is an example of a site that has recast itself from an industrial center to a postindustrial site, a site that capitalizes on information and abstract product instead of a physical end result. One characteristic of the postindustrial is the ability to capitalize on abstract products. In the case of Dundee, the city used to deal exclusively in tangible products such as jute and whale oil. Verdant Works is an old jute mill that has been preserved as a museum and tourist destination. As such it is representative of the larger recast image of Dundee (though the city doesn’t say it) as a postindustrial city.

Dundee was fortunate in its location. The inhabitants were located at a nexus of various goods that came together at the right time with the right world environment to create the booming jute industry. Verdant Works, and other mills like it, were able to exist because of the physical commodities that were available in Dundee. As an industrial center, Dundee was in a sense at the mercy of its location in terms of what could be transported to it, what it could export, and the labor that was available.

After the fall of the jute trade, Verdant has survived as a destination and a museum. It could recast itself as somewhere to go with something to see. As a visitor, you are paying for the opportunity to see something, to consume information, not to buy sailcloth or other jute products. Dundee as a city has had to change its focus from physical product to rebranding itself as the City of Discovery. Verdant Works is an iconic example of shift from industrial to postindustrial in the city.

1 comment:

salvo said...

Dundee may not explicitly call itself postindustrial but Glasgow does:Today's Glasgow has in large measure recovered from this third disaster, and has been referred to as the world's first post-industrial city. It has done so painfully, slowly, and very unevenly, and still has some of the most deprived areas in Scotland. But no visitor to Glasgow can fail to feel the vitality and energy with which it entered the third millennium.
Undiscovered Scotland
Interesting, no? There are numerous descriptions of Glasgow as postindustrial, and as recovered even though there are also indications that some parts of the city lag behind. Or is this the new state of cities in the postindustrial age? It it a postindustrial age, or has the city reached its own new postindustrial status while other cities, like those growing in Asia, Africa, and South America, just entering their own industrial ages while Dundee, Glasgow and others are post-?