Rethinking old factories

You would not think an old Malt factory, an old prison and an old military base have much in common, besides being old. However, they are all, right now, bringing people together, by being reused for cultural purposes in the most amazing ways. By changing these old factory buildings into cultural centres, it is a way of preserving a part of the past and creating an innovative future.

FÆNGSLET: A night behind bars
After the last inmate in Horsens State Penitentiary left in 2006, the building was reformed and changed into a cultural institute. Today it accommodates a Prison Museum, the city’s tourist information centre, VISITHORSENS, and a prison hotel at the old sick ward where you can stay over a night. With some of the authenticity kept, such as old graffiti on walls from inmates and old radios still kept in the cells for the overnight stays, it makes the overnight stay more authentic.

The rest of the prison is available for rent for business events, and shared office space, festivals, concerts. The old penitentiary, the prison workshop, the gathering hall and the gym are all available for rent. Perhaps not the most usual place to host an event, a meeting or a party. The hotel is a socioeconomic business so all profit attained are used for activities in the prison.

The Prison Museum, located in the old penitentiary, offers a glimpse into life behind bars through sound, film and photos. Located in the former prison yard, where inmates used to enjoy fresh air and exercise, concerts are now held in the summertime.

Inspiring and innovative were perhaps not words expected to hear about the prison when it opened in 1853, but are certainly appropriate to describe the Old Prison today.

Visit FÆNGSLET's website.

The New Malt Factory: brewing something up again
In Ebeltoft, an old town located in Jutland, stands an old malt factory, dating back to 1861. On one faithful day, the red factory was to be torn down to build a modern city mall. Fortunately, a small group of locals passionate about culture fought against it, raised money, and bought the building.

Today, the factory is in the middle of a process to change into a cultural hub. It opened in 2011 as an event platform, with microbrewery, creative workspaces, live music, youth culture, visual art, exhibitions, crafts, discussions, lectures, artists in residency and programmes for supporting emerging artists, library and a museum.

In collaboration with Aarhus 2017, plans have been made to offer even more activities in 2017. This small act of dedicated citizens has turned the factory into a vibrant cultural project, offering various activities and a place to meet, socialise and share culture. The dream is to make the city a creative melting pot, a multicultural centre, reaching its arms out to Europe in 2017.

Visit The New Malt Factory's website.

Arsenalet: seeing the world through animation
Viborg is the first place in the world to establish a complete animation environment, with all the steps needed to go from spare-time drawing enthusiast to full time professional animation studio.

The old military base in Viborg reopened three years ago and now operates as a cluster of independent creative businesses. Arsenalet offers an extremely flexible working environment, tailored for creative start-ups with offices of all shapes and sizes. It provides help to creative start-ups in any way possible, by advising on fundraising, bringing in experts to lecture and connecting start-ups with partners.

Arsenalet is unique in its approach, as it takes in illustrators, game makers or anyone doing work in relation to animation. Many of the entrepreneurs working at Arsenalet come from the Animation Workshop in Viborg (another collaborative partner of Aarhus 2017).

The project started three years ago with seven companies and today it hosts 40 companies. The start-ups vary from a 1-person start up to a company with 25 employees.

In the beginning, Arsenalet offered 10 companies to stay there for free for 10 months, offered them courses and had them make pitches to each other to develop themselves. The goal was to take some raw talent and transform it into a professional company. Today, 80% of them are now renting office spaces there.

Aarhus 2017 supports the projects and Viborg City has a very ambitious plan of branding itself as a city of animation and make itself into an animation capital. Animation workshops are even offered in primary school in third and fourth class by now. 

Visit Arsenalet's website.