Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Conference papers

« Repurposing modern ruins through tourism: lost places, heritage and recreation. A case study of Beelitz Sanatorium »

Abstract : Over past decades, Berlin’s urban space has undergone deep transformations accounting for the presence of numerous modern ruins in the city and its surroundings. Having become prized spots for alternative practices (Edensor 2005), some of them are now subject to recreational valorisations. This is the case of Beelitz Sanatorium in the periphery of Berlin, which is being gradually rehabilitated after its abandonment in the early nineties. A part of the complex has been transformed into a leisure area which main attraction is a canopy walkway meandering between ruins. Drawing on an urban and cultural geography approach, our presentation aims to analyse its recreational valorisation as a form of cultural repurposing of abandoned places. First, we outline the reappraisal of the cultural value attached to Beelitz’s ruins as rediscovered heritage. Then we discuss spatial issues raised by their development as recreational ruins aiming to meet requirements for use by a broad audience. Finally, we question the temporalities of such a recreational valorisation and ask whether tourism and leisure repurposing must be understood as permanent or as a transitional stage in a broader process of rehabilitation. Our methodological framework is based on a mix of qualitative methods including participant observation, formal and informal interviews with participants, organizers, institutional actors and inhabitants as well as analysis of online material. By providing valuable insights into the ways modern ruins are being re-integrated into the city’s space, the case of Beelitz is exemplary of current changes of perspective on abandoned places and their social value.
Document type :
Conference papers
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Aude Le Gallou <>
Submitted on : Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 6:35:53 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 11:08:49 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02943503, version 1



Aude Le Gallou. « Repurposing modern ruins through tourism: lost places, heritage and recreation. A case study of Beelitz Sanatorium ». RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, Royal Geographical Society / Institute of British Geographers, Aug 2018, Cardiff, United Kingdom. ⟨halshs-02943503⟩



Record views