Meat and Creativity: Adaptive reuse of Slaughterhouses and Meatpacking Districts

Per Strömberg

Abstract


This paper investigates the adaptive reuse and urban regeneration of former slaughterhouses and meatpacking districts in which the buildings are adapted to new functions. The purpose is to describe and critically scrutinize the political-economic context in which “meat and creativity” became a rhetorical device for postindustrial regeneration.

This comparative multiple case study includes meatpacking district in NYC, Rome and Copenhagen. It poses two primary questions: In what ways and for what reasons have slaughterhouses and meatpacking districts in the West been redeveloped during the last two decades, and how are the cultural reuse values put to work in different contexts?

The Meatpacking District (NYC) functions as a point of reference for other slaughterhouse renewal projects. This unexpected fusion between the meat industry and the creative industries suggests a “postindustrial grammar” which induces “serial monotony” on its surface. However, the grammar is very elastic, meaning that it is very much related to national policies and discourses of the “creative city”, thus having regional and national variations. In Italy, public slaughterhouses have formed an alternative grammar which is more connected to the free arts and cultural activities supported by public institutions. Slaughterhouse renewal projects like Kødbyen in Copenhagen suggest a middle way which evoke the “hybrid city”.

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