University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Sustainability in the Built Environment (GreenBRIDGE) > “HERITAGE and FUTURE Cities: Lessons from the PAST for Sustainable FUTURE”

“HERITAGE and FUTURE Cities: Lessons from the PAST for Sustainable FUTURE”

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Tea, Coffee and Biscuits are provided

When: Thursday 4th of March 2010, 12:00-14:00 Where : CRASSH Seminar Room, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX

James Hooper, Global Heritage Fund – UK

“Banteay Chhmar – Opportunities and threats in north-western Cambodia”

Global Heritage Fund (GHF) has, since January 2008, entered into an agreement with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MCFA) to provide funding and technical assistance in the conservation of the tentatively listed UNESCO World Heritage Site of Banteay Chhmar. This talk will focus on separate narratives within the project with the intention of illustrating the varying considerations and negotiations undertaken by GHF in this process. These perspectives will reflect the radically different pressures exerted on a heritage place by local, national and international actors and the challenges that an international NGO faces when assuming responsibility for any aspect of the site’s development. Global Heritage Fund’s involvement comes as the result of numerous incentives. The temple of Banteay Chhmar represents the last of the great Angkorian Temples to receive little or no recent scholarly attention and thus represents a vast store of cultural-historic information. Meanwhile, an imminent Korean Government and Asian Development Bank funded road improvement project threatens to bring rapid development to the area with entirely insufficient planning for sustainable heritage management.

Tatiana V. Vakhitova, PhD researcher Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Cambridge

Research in progress: “Incorporating Cultural Heritage Values into planning for Sustainable Development at the City level: Case Studies from the UK’s World Heritage Sites”

The PhD research project investigates the place of cultural heritage in the planning process for sustainable development, supported by Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) (and the version specific to the UK, Sustainability Appraisal (SA)/SEA)) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) tools. The research methodology is based on case studies analysis. Chosen case studies comprise World Heritage (WH) sites officially recognised as possessing Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Their examination will help to establish improved ways of considering cultural heritage values in planning for sustainable development. Fundamentally, the research will contribute to an improved impact assessment framework that better addresses cultural heritage values. The research partly contributes to the UNESCO and TU/e University (Holland) project “OUV, WH cities and Sustainability”. Specifically it focuses on the core issue, interpretation of OUV , for use in a web-based tool, which maps the OUV assessment process. This project should increase transparency and clarity in planning decision-making practice of WH sites. Overall the research aims to facilitate better consideration of cultural heritage values in decision-making practices in planning, and argues the importance of this in creating attractive and economically as well as culturally viable places to live.

Shadia Taha, PhD researcher Archaeology Department, University of Cambridge

When Stakeholders Go Solo: The Case of Suakin

Suakin on the East Coast of Sudan is a place that grew over a long period from a small internal port to become a prosperous maritime trading centre, the most famous on the Red Sea coast from the 14th century to the early 20th century – until Port Sudan was founded in 1909 – which gradually ended Suakin’s long established place as a major trading centre and a sea route. Suakin has a rich range of cultural, tangible, intangible and natural heritage. Despite the strong tangible character of Suakin it has a strong presence of intangible heritage, expressed through religious festivals and practices, traditional crafts, traditional knowledge and cultural continuity. My aim is to argue that in the face of rapid economic developments, modernisation and urbanisation, it is vital to examine how these sites can be preserved and included into the development process so not to be seen as an obstacle for development. How to deal with the challenges of modernity without the risk of losing cultural distinctiveness and diversity, how can we preserve the living cultural traditions of the local community whose intangible heritage is threatened as the towns plan new development. A multi-disciplinary approach will protect the historical character, material and non-material culture and achieve a more sustainable development.

Tera Pruitt, PhD researcher Archaeology Department, University of Cambridge

“Jousting Windmills? The Sustainability and Ethics of Invented Heritage Tourism”

The production of knowledge is a particularly contested space when local community needs mix with standards of scientific practice. This paper presents a contested case study of archaeological practice in Visoko, Bosnia. This case of alternative archaeology, popularly called ‘The Bosnian Pyramids’, is satisfying very important socio-political needs in a community by providing a post-war region with a booming tourism industry. Yet this industry, selling a story of ancient and mysterious pyramids in Bosnia, is founded on nothing more than a performance and mimesis of science.

This paper raises some of the very important ethical concerns that emerge when whole landscapes are invented and reinvented. In cases such as Bosnia, ‘alternative’ scientific narratives are stimulating a viable industry of tourism, and they are arguably creating a climate of social stability and tolerance in a post-war region. Yet, when such cases draw on unstable foundations of faulty logic and imagination, how economically sustainable is the tourism? Where do the ethical boundaries lie? Heba Mostafa, PhD researcher Architecture Department, University of Cambridge, “Silent Stones: The Role of the Visual in Reconstructing the Past” Architectural historians are often called upon as consultants in the conservation process. In their capacity as interpreters of the past, the ability to bring voices from history to the foreground proves invaluable to the process of heritage management. This becomes particularly important when historical urban fabric or monuments are no longer extant; in this instance the historian’s role becomes one of a conservator of memory rather than monuments. This paper will examine the role played by computer-generated reconstructions based on primary source material, of non-extant 13th c. Cairene palaces in light of the potentialities, pitfalls and limitations of interpreting the past using the visual media of the present.

Seif El Rashidi, coordinator of the Durham World Heritage Site

“Urban Conservation and its Social Challenges: Some Thoughts on Cities That Care and Cities That Don’t

Seif El Rashidi is currently the coordinator of the Durham World Heritage Site. Between 1997 and 2008 he worked in Cairo for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s Historic Cities Programme, dealing with urban conservation issues in the medieval city. He holds a masters degree in city design and social science from the London School of Economics and one in history of Islamic architecture from the American University in Cairo. His research interests include the expression of identity in buildings and cities; and the evolution of architectural traditions. He contributed to Cairo: Revitalising a Historic Metropolis and Creswell Photographs Re-examined: New Perspectives on Islamic Architecture.

The talk compares the experience of developing a conservation plan for historic Cairo, with that of coordinating the Durham World Heritage Site, specifically looking at the social challenges of urban conservation, and exploring the effects of bureaucratic systems, and what happens when they don’t work well enough or work too well. In terms of urban conservation the two cities couldn’t be more different: Cairo suffers from a legal system that only sees historic buildings as monuments, and residents that don’t see their value at all. In addition, rent-control laws mean that most of the residents of historic buildings are tenants who pay nominal rents, giving landlords no incentive to invest in conservation, and every reason to strive to demolish their property as a means of evicting their tenants. Central Durham, like all other UK conservation areas, has stringent controls, and citizens who zealously guard their heritage, sometimes to the extent of being adamantly against change. Working in environments such as these require more than an awareness of the historic environment and its value, it also requires an understanding of its people, and how best to engage them in the conservation process.

This talk is part of the Sustainability in the Built Environment (GreenBRIDGE) series.

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