Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Sustainable Heritage Development: Learning from Urban Conservation of Heritage Projects in Non Western Contexts

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Sustainable Heritage Development: Learning from Urban Conservation of Heritage Projects in Non Western Contexts

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Environmentalists, economists, architects and urban designers, and even politicians worldwide are now preaching for conservation and especially urban conservation, each for his/her own purpose and in fact in his/her own terminology. The premise of this paper is that while there have been a considerable debate within the developed world on urban conservation, efforts that were undertaken in the developing world do not seem to have been sufficiently addressed in recent discussions. The concomitant result is a lack of knowledge about the realities of urban conservation in developing countries, which may lead, in turn, to miss opportunities for learning from outstanding urban interventions in non-western contexts. The physical environment in non- western contexts reflects the intersection between place, culture, society, and the available technology. Typically, it encompasses a range of well established traditions and practices where the symbols of religious, political, institutional, and economic powers are often competing. After the Second World War, re-building of old urban areas of historic cities occurred across Western Europe in the 1950s and into the 1960s that led to a much greater awareness of the unique character of these older areas and the need to treat them sensitively and constructively. (Graber, 1993) Urban conservation in those countries is generally understood as a process of continuity and change which forms the backbone of any urban culture and society.

Projects identified for this study are selected from Egypt, Palestine, Tunisia and Uzbekistan. These were selected based on their scale, scope of interests, contextual constraints, and the economic realities of their localities. Thus, the methodology adopted is to analytically compare these projects based on the criteria for selecting them. Another methodological mechanism is undertaken based on a cross case study analysis and content analysis procedure of the literature on these projects. Within such an analysis, issues underlying the three categories of socio-physical and socio-cultural and environmental concerns are debated. The procedure involves identification of key parameters amenable to and normally associated with successful urban conservation projects. These include participation and democracy in decision making, providing educational and job opportunities; re-building local communities, raising the standards of living, socio economic development, rapprochement of tourism and culture, developing adaptive re-use schemes and environmental awareness programs. The analysis indicates that urban conservation is a process of change and development rather than romanticism or radical redevelopment. In essence, the projects analyzed emphasize a number of successful indicators which could help establish guidance for undertaking future urban interventions exemplified by infill and conservation projects in similar contexts. The results of implementing this multilayered methodology offers important lessons that could be adopted yet adapted to both western and non western contexts.

2. Sustainable Urban Conservation: A Medium for Change

Urban conservation of heritage sites in cities contributes largely towards upgrading environmental quality, thus serving as a fundamental catalyst for change. Lichfield (1988) defines two main motivations for conservation which are resource value and responsibility towards the others respectively. Resource value is an important value for conserving existing stocks since; in general term, conservation of historic stocks saves more resources (that is a sustainable approach), than the construction of new ones, especially when the quality of those stocks is generally superior to the new ones. (Tiesdell et al.,1996) Responsibility towards the others is another value that led certain countries to act as trustees not only for future generations but also for non-nationals around the world. Concomitantly, historic stocks are considered trust to be kept and delivered for others. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.