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ULRICH SCHILDBERG

From coal to…? Structural change in old mining areas 

Svalbard has no indigen population. During the whaling area there has been no permanent settlement on the islands. This began with the exploitation of coal at the end of the 19th century. The only reason to establish permanent settlements was coal. Most of these settlements were vanished, when coal mining was finished. Some settlements existed only for a short time and were abandonded already in the first half of the 20th century like Advent City and Hjorthamn at the shores of Adventfjord. But they are still visible and can tell us a lot about their history and structure. Some lasted longer like Pyramiden which is preserved completely. But all of them were gone when the reason of their existence was gone-coal. Others still exist like Ny Alesund, Barentsburg and especially Longyearbyen, although the reason of their existence is gone too – mostly. All of these settlements were „company towns“, their were founded and ruled by the mining company. Is there a reason for their existence in the future and what is their future? 

Their is an astonishing parallel with another, even bigger coal-region – the Ruhr-Region in Germany. 200 years ago there were only some villages which developed to small and big towns. Last year the last mine closed and the region ist searching it´s future. The change is focussed on some main themes: restoration of nature, tourism, culture, especially the so called „industrial culture“ and science. These are also the focusses in Svalbard. I want to research if this is a solution for Svalbard, especially in the times of climate-change. My focus will be on town-planning and economic and social development. 

First it was planned to realize this research project with the Department of Urban Planning of the Technical University of Dortmund. Though it was accepted as project, it failed due to the lack of money. Now I will try it as a private project, probably as a dissertation. If possible I will do my field work in 2020 or 2021. 

I´ve studied Urban Planning in Dortmund and am actually working as consultant for mining and redevelopment of abandonded industrialized areas. 

My contact: ulrich.schildberg@web.de 

 
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