Commenced in January 2007
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Informative, Inclusive and Transparent Planning Methods for Sustainable Heritage Management

Authors: Mathilde Kirkegaard


The paper will focus on management of heritage that integrates the local community, and argue towards an obligation to integrate this social aspect in heritage management. By broadening the understanding of heritage, a sustainable heritage management takes its departure in more than a continual conservation of the physicality of heritage. The social aspect, or the local community, is in many govern heritage management situations being overlooked and it is not managed through community based urban planning methods, e.g.: citizen-inclusion, a transparent process, informative and inviting initiatives, etc. Historical sites are often being described by embracing terms such as “ours” and “us”: “our history” and “a history that is part of us”. Heritage is not something static, it is a link between the life that has been lived in the historical frames, and the life that is defining it today. This view on heritage is rooted in the strive to ensure that heritage sites, besides securing the national historical interest, have a value for those people who are affected by it: living in it or visiting it. Antigua Guatemala is a UNESCO-defined heritage site and this site is being ‘threatened’ by tourism, habitation and recreation. In other words: ‘the use’ of the site is considered a threat of the preservation of the heritage. Contradictory the same types of use (tourism and habitation) can also be considered development ability, and perhaps even a sustainable management solution. ‘The use’ of heritage is interlinked with the perspective that heritage sites ought to have a value for people today. In other words, the heritage sites should be comprised of a contemporary substance. Heritage is entwined in its context of physical structures and the social layer. A synergy between the use of heritage and the knowledge about the heritage can generate a sustainable preservation solution. The paper will exemplify this symbiosis with different examples of a heritage management that is centred around a local community inclusion. The inclusive method is not new in architectural planning and it refers to a top-down and bottom-up balance in decision making. It can be endeavoured through designs of an inclusive nature. Catalyst architecture is a planning method that strives to move the process of design solutions into the public space. Through process-orientated designs, or catalyst designs, the community can gain an insight into the process or be invited to participate in the process. A balance between bottom-up and top-down in the development process of a heritage site can, in relation to management measures, be understood to generate a socially sustainable solution. The ownership and engagement that can be created among the local community, along with the use that ultimately can gain an economic benefit, can delegate the maintenance and preservation. Informative, inclusive and transparent planning methods can generate a heritage management that is long-term due to the collective understanding and effort. This method handles sustainable management on two levels: the current preservation necessities and the long-term management, while ensuring a value for people today.

Keywords: Community, intangible, inclusion, planning, heritage.

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