Exploring Interstitial Wastelands

External video URL

How should we deal with forgotten heritage? How should we deal with heritage that we do not consider to be valuable or attractive? And what about heritage that we ignore because of a past we would rather forget? Researcher Karin Stadhouders from the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Global Heritage and Development has studied these forgotten, often undeveloped, industrial areas.

The wilderness years

These sites often have an uncertain future and negative connotations but are still part of our cultural history. In her research, Karin Stadhouders focuses on the period between the time when buildings were vacated and their redevelopment: ‘the wilderness years’. Often these forgotten sites are rediscovered by ‘pioneers’: individuals or groups, such as squatters, artists, local residents or activists. The process of cultural revaluation, in which undeveloped sites are given new meaning and functions, lies at the heart of Karin's research. In an interview she talks about the transformation of these undeveloped sites.


Karin Stadhouders is involved in a study into the history and development of the so-called Quarantine Site, a location where sailors infected with dangerous tropical diseases were isolated before their ship sailed into the port of Rotterdam. The Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Global Heritage and Development has made a documentary about the role of the site in ‘the wilderness years’. Karin Stadhouders explores the role of the ‘pioneers’ in re-evaluating and rehabilitating the site in ‘the wilderness years’. What is it that triggers re-evaluation and transformation? What attracts pioneers to rediscover and experience these undeveloped sites? What impact do their actions and interventions have on future transformations? Karin Stadhouders hopes that the research will provide a better understanding of these heritage sites' processes of transformation.

Read the full interview with Karin Stadhouders


Karin Stadhouders is a PhD-researcher in heritage and environment.

Personal page at Leiden University
Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden
Heritage under threat



Next article