The Industrial and Engineering Heritage Committee met in Venice

Europa Nostra’s Industrial and Engineering Heritage Commitee (IEHC) met in Venice from 19 to 22 April. At its formal meeting it was decided to have the IEHC’s recently updated Mission Statement – the “Greenwich Declaration”, adopted at the Committee’s previous meeting in London in October 2011, translated in German and possibly in Italian. The 8 present IEHC-members were also briefed on possible cooperation between EN’s IEHC and the Subcommittee on Culture, Diversity and Heritage of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in the field of Industrial Heritage (IH).

As for the agenda-point IH-at-Risk, Chairman Pierre Laconte (BE) and IEHC-member Paul Smith (FR) once more called for bringing urgent cases – like Le pont Colbert Swingbridge in Dieppe – to the attention of other levels within the EN structure, such as – for example – the Forum “Saving Europe’s Endangered Heritage” during EN’s Annual Congress in Lisbon in June 2012.

Last details of IEHC’s traditional IH-excursion during the upcoming Annual Europa Nostra Congress in Lisbon, were discussed in Venice as well. Thanks to good planning and hard working of members Eusebi Casanelles (ES) and Secretary Rienko Wilton (NL) an attractive program is awaiting the 40 odd Congress participants who are transported in and around Lisbon by bus, boat and rail, for the occasion in a vintage Carriage of the Presidential Train, kindly arranged by the National Railway Museum.

From left to right: IEHC-members Chairman Pierre Laconte (BE), Francesco Calzolaio (IT), Secretary Rienko Wilton (NL), Dieter Soyez (GE), Paul Smith (FR), Eusebi Casanelles (ES), Cyril Winskell (UK) and Hildebrand de Boer (NL). Absent are Angus Fowlewr (GE) and David Morgan (UK).

Francesco Calzolaio, IEHC’s youngest member who joined the Committee in 2011, was the host in his hometown Venice. Architect Calzolaio was able to offer his guests an extremely diverse and historically interesting IH program; working visits were made to a huge former grain-mill changed into a Hilton hotel and private apartments, to a former brewery reconverted into special housing and to the docks of Porto Marghera traversed in a speed boat.

Highlight was without any doubt the day tour to the old Arsenale where the Republic of Venice built its ships in flow production avant la lettre – for almost 400 years giving it the trading power and grandeur far beyond the waters of the Mediterranean. The Arsenale of today is still partly used by the Italian Navy and the Maritime Museum (see photo) but at the same time it is a showcase of diversity in re-use: the old premises have within its walls the Biennale di Venezia and modern-designed offices, outside are the beautifully restored Torre di Porta Nuova and the dry-docks that will be used for maintenance of the state-of-the-art barrier-system that should protect Venice from floods in the future.

This barrier-system, fully operational by 2016, is no luxury: high-water – exceptional in April – forced IEHC-members to buy rubber boots head over heels arriving in Venice. The next IEHC-meeting will take place in October 2012 in Newcastle.

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