Mina de idei Anina
„Mina de idei Anina” is the name given to the series of events organised by Alba Verde Association starting from May 2014 and meant to enable the local identity rekindling and the economic, social and cultural regeneration of the post‐industrial town of Anina (Caraş Severin County) through its community direct involvement.
Anina is best known for its long tradition in mining activity, which influenced directly the settlement, the local community and its urban life, currently highly challenged by the mine closing in 2007. Colonized since 1773, the town was populated by Germans, Austrians, Czechs, Slovaks, and Romanians initially brought here for timber exploitation and in a later phase for coal mining. Although now it may seem to many a mere relic with no future, Anina includes 49 buildings and sites present on the List of Historical Monuments (LMI 2010 – a record number for the “official”
recognition of the patrimonial value of the industrial legacy in the Romanian context). Moreover, Anina is characterized by the juxtaposition of multiple identity elements from various eras, and is appreciated by locals for the quality of its natural elements (air, water and landscape).
The territorial‐infrastructural, economic (the incapacity to attract investment capital) and socio‐cultural closeness and isolation of the post‐industrial town disconcerts crumbling any hope. In this context, the built environment is abandoned, dismantled or subjected to uncontrolled, improvised and parasitic interventions, and therefore, subject of advanced material decay. Besides, the fading of the industrial landscape’s distinctive elements (tangible) and of its associated generations with a still lively memory concerning the industrial past (intangible), is much quicker than the change of mentality and the ethical approach of the complex industrial heritage by the local community (“lived architecture”) or by the decision factors or/and specialised architects.
The present initiative contributes to the local identity’s investigation and enhancement as asset for the post‐industrial regeneration and sustainable development through three categories of actions:
Research and education: There have been organised two industrial heritage workshops (in 2014 and 2015) for architect students with the participation of Romanian and foreign experts. The workshops supported the bibliographical research and documentation, and on site analysis of the area for the identification of identity elements; the photographic and documentary description of the target objects; the definition of tourist routes and revitalisation scenarios confronted through discussions with local stakeholders, and the deepening of the Mining Museum hypothesis wanted by the local administration. The workshops also aimed at sensitizing students on the existing built environment, regarded as a “document” that provides information on the economic and political context at local, regional, and even national level, but also on the society that generated it (building techniques and materials, the impact of industry on shaping architecture and urban space, the industrial society structure and so on).
The local community involvement: In 2015, a sociological study was initiated for understanding the place history in the collective memory and the identity values that could base Anina’s regeneration. The interviews and informal exchanges with residents allowed the identification of their motivations and visions and the discussion of possible scenarios for the settlement evolution. All the project actions were undertaken so that to encourage local community participation and, even more, their further involvement into the locality life by supporting similar initiatives.
Promotion: Beyond the academic interest and the community gathering around shared values and principles, the project aimed to bring Anina into the general attention as a national and international landmark. Hence, in January 2015 a dedicated bilingual (Romanian‐English) brochure has been published (printed format and free access digital format) and two professional articles on Mina de idei Anina were included in Zeppelin magazine (one in November 2014 and another in September 2015), press releases have been distributed periodically marking the milestones of the initiative, while the team members gave various interviews and presentations on this subject. In September 2015, there were organised in Anina a post‐industrial guided tour, an itinerant exhibition of projects and photos (in collaboration with FAU Timişoara), a public space mapping projection (by Visual SKIN) and numerous public presentation. Besides, personalised objects and identity posters have been produced starting from the acknowledged local symbols. The international visibility has been assured through the development of the actions in the framework of the “European Industrial and Technical Heritage Year, 2015”.
The re‐connection of an (economically, socially and culturally) isolated area to the regional and national territory through a series of actions meant for the local architectural heritage enhancement.
The capitalisation of the industrial architectural heritage as tangible connection element between the actual postindustrial community and the past, as basis for the adoption of an “ethical” intervention attitude towards the existing built environment.
The awareness of the community and authorities in Anina regarding the local values assumed as levers for future development.
The provision of the key elements necessary to a local level post‐industrial regeneration strategy.
The assumption of a specific methodology for the industrial heritage understanding and approach by architecture students, but also by local authorities.
The knowledge transfer between the didactic‐academic sector and the decision and professional one, regarding sustainable post‐industrial regeneration.
Project continuation: In 2016 there will be published a second digital book regarding the results of recent actions (since June to October 2015) and focusing on the present identity of Anina, its image in the collective vision of the local community and the minimum steps necessary to get out of the impasse. Anina will remain a study site for the students of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism in Timisoara, solutions being proposed in response to its different issues. The discussions with residents and the sociological study will continue, aiming to increase the local stakeholders’ motivation and involvement in the sustainable regeneration of the area. The promotion will be continued by publishing regular briefings on Anina, and distributing the customised objects and posters.