Mapping (Creative) Clusters

From various conversations with students at the Zollverein School I know that some of their interim projects have dealt with business plans on how to leverage from the heritage of the former coal mine areal as well as from the status of a “UN World Heritage” donated in 2001. In the late 1920ties, architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer created the first drafts for Zollverein Shaft XII - a masterpiece of industrial architecture. Their aesthetic and clean designs should become a blueprint for a whole generation of facilities.

The organisation in charge for the areal is the “Entwicklungsgesellschaft Zollverein mbH” and on their website they’ve assembled an impressive amount of interactive tools in order to explore the areal also from a distance. So just in case our international visitors are not familiar with the Zollverein complex yet you might want to have a look at the areal via a Quicktime enabled helicopter flight. During the flight you will also see where the new Zollverein School building will be located from Summer 2006 on. Recent photos taken at the construction site can be found on the Flickr-sidebar of this blog on the right.

Similar to many other former hotspots of last century’s Industrial Age around the world the process of transformation to a new era dominated by creativity and innovation is not an easy one. And Zollverein is clearly not the only creative cluster in the Europe or the world. However today’s posting by Dominic Basulto from “The Innovation Insider” (the successor of the FORTUNE Innovation Forum Blog) is pointing to some interesting insights and research on the chances of mapping industrial and creative clusters like Silicon Valley or Creative London.

While the Red Herring article as well as the Harvard Cluster Mapping Project are mainly referring to Silicon Valley as one of the most copied clusters the information also sheds some positive light on the prospects of the creative cluster created at the Zollverein areal in Essen and the Ruhrgebiet in general (Quote taken from “The Innovation Insider” who quoted from the “Cluster Mapping Project”):

“The conventional wisdom is plain wrong. Clusters, the jobs they create, and the prosperity of surrounding communities are far from static. This is an evolutionary process, and being a successful cluster, like Silicon Valley—that’s not the end of it. Some people thought that because of globalization, clusters would disperse, but instead what we see is that existing clusters become more specialised, and more focused on specific things that create value and employment.”

These insights combined with Richard Florida’s ideas about the “Creative Class” together with the developments at the Zollverein areal and the Zollverein School of management and design in particular are quite promising I think. Let’s see if any of the prospect dissertations are picking up this topic?

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