Chapter 3 Cultural Heritage as an Inspiration for Placemaking in the Historic City: A Transversal Approach

In: Placemaking in Practice Volume 1
Authors:
Juan A. García-Esparza Universitat Jaume I, Spain Castellón de la Plana Spain

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Carola Hein Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands Delft The Netherlands

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Ljiljana Rogac Mijatovic Faculty of Dramatic Arts Belgrade Serbia

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Mircea Negru Spiru Haret University, Romania Bucharest Romania

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Open Access

Abstract

Many European cities are in crisis since most of them are struggling to socially and culturally move forward from the historic and recreational values that made them of interest to the global visitor. In 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) started assessing new forms of placemaking in the historic city through the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape Approach. The same year, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) highlighted the importance of developing innovative and transversal approaches to examine cultural development in historic human settlements. Within this context, this chapter analyses placemaking in four European historic cities. Transversal approaches on how relational dynamics impact on the historic context will be scrutinized from the realm of the site-specific arts in the city of Belgrade (Serbia), for archaeology the case of analysis is in Bucharest (Romania), for architecture the context is Ávila (Spain) and for urban planning it is Hamburg (Germany). This transversal approach involves using different disciplines to comprehend placemaking from a polyhedral point of view. Therefore, it brings together complementary forms of heritage appropriation – including the construction of the heritage concept over time – methods and strategies that help integrate cultural expressions, practices and products as potential relational dynamics. To do so, we will define stakeholders such as minorities, communities and powerful entities and target groups. Methodologically, approaches will deepen the understanding of phenomenological, dynamic-relational and contextual notions of placemaking that help clarify how historic cities, tools and communities are all interconnected. The discussion will establish parallelisms between the experiences to clarify the implications of placemaking according to the field of approach and the prospects for those places. Cultural expressions and heritage regulation can provide new forms of appropriation and integration in permanent scenarios of the past. Accordingly, contemporary mutable relationships between places and society are at stake in the context of urban planning and the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape Approach and in defining the future of historic cities. In conclusion, we point towards (1) imagining how placemaking and cultural heritage serve to delineate new forms of heritage-making in the historic city, and (2) to what extent this requires defining ethical forms of culture-based placemaking practices.

1 Introduction

1.1 Developing a New Understanding of Cultural Heritage

Many European historic cities are in crisis since most of them are struggling to socially and culturally move forward from the historic and recreational values that made them of interest for the global visitor. In this regard, the Faro Convention (Council of Europe, 2005) recognized the value of heritage for society and promoted cultural heritage protection as a “central factor in the mutually supporting objectives of sustainable development, cultural diversity and contemporary creativity”. The convention came to alleviate tourism pressures and habitation conditions. Since then, heritage is no longer purely a cultural objective but rather it is an essential tool to facilitate a more equilibrated transition for cities at the economic, social and environmental level. Since the early 2000s, several important innovations in cultural policies have come about, from the adoption of new international conventions, particularly for intangible heritage (UNESCO, 2003) and the diversity of cultural expressions (UNESCO, 2005, 2011). The dimension of culture was later briefly referred to within the International Development Agenda adopted in 2015 by the UN General Assembly, the Agenda 2030, and expanded in the UNESCO Culture 2030 Indicators. Two important UNESCO reports focused on the relationship between culture – in all its forms – and sustainable development: Re-Shaping Cultural Policies (UNESCO, 2017) and the Culture Urban Future report, which was prepared in view of the Habitat III conference (UNESCO, 2016a), where it is recognized as a category linked to people, environment and policies.

The Culture Urban Future report particularly focuses on peace and tolerance, creativity and innovation, inclusivity, identity, local development, governance and finance for sustainable development. ICOMOS already endorsed this approach with the Valletta Principles for the Safeguarding and Management of Historic Cities, Towns and Urban Areas (ICOMOS, 2011) and the Florence Declaration on Heritage and Landscape as Human Values (ICOMOS, 2014). Both the Principles and the Declaration explicitly recommended linking heritage conservation and sustainable local socio-economic development by ensuring that heritage contributes to sustainable development objectives (ICOMOS, 2014, art. 4.3a). Heritage practitioners and academics now consider approaches between preserving tangible structures – buildings, urban forms, landscapes – together with the intangible – emotions, feelings, values, power, and justice. The analysis of how contemporary discourses, practices and uses of the historic city integrate (or not) its society, and how to understand them all fitting in previous forms of an imposed protection, as highlighted at the very beginning of the chapter, is a challenge for the contemporary historic city. These legacies and the role they play today in historic cities intersect and clash with local vitality and creativity.

The objective of the transversal approach exposed in this chapter is to deepen the understanding of phenomenological, dynamic-relational and contextual notions of placemaking that help clarify how historic cities, tools and communities can be interconnected through a set of practices and interests. Nonetheless, the problem of engagement with past and present forms of legacy depends on stakeholders and the methodological challenges, that is, governance and digitization to engage them in placemaking. The chapter addresses those challenges from a transversal approach. To do so, the cases bring to the fore the social value, understanding it as culture-based appreciations that often lack the methods to engage with the iterations of the diverse and the heterogeneous – concepts closer to the dynamic realm of the intangible.

1.2 Scope of the Research

Complementary forms of heritage appropriation can encourage the development of governance structures that promote the materialization of a full spectrum of local-neighbourhood values, and in turn make local actors be active members of the process. Governments could establish strong governance mechanisms in the face of city development structures and their eventual social and urban imbalances. In a context of governance with weak authority structures and limited institutional structures, possible new directions for cultural heritage and placemaking in the historic city is to establish and encourage alternative and transversal approaches, such as the ones presented here for an adequate or perhaps more ethical management1 of the historic city. In recent years, placemaking has become a widely institutionalized strategy for public policies and an approach for the management of public places in many European cities. In the four cases that the authors bring forward, placemaking is not yet sufficiently recognized as a tool of urban development or cultural policy in particular. This means that not only city public spaces as such, but cultural heritage sites as an integral layer of the city landscape and identity face the challenges of being on the agenda within these discourses. In this context, the recognition of potential artistic, archaeological, conservation and planning practices in harnessing cultural heritage for placemaking in the city becomes a crucial task for the transversal approach to the diversity of related policy areas, instruments and stakeholders. Digitization and, particularly, maps and mapping allow public and private stakeholders to understand spatial contexts, environmental changes, institutional settings and cultural implications and possibly help us understand placemaking. Recent innovations involving big data, GIS-based research and digital datasets offer new opportunities to use maps and mapping to study spatial and cultural elements. Few geospatial tools or research methods currently exist to analyse and represent spaces, social interactions and cultural practices (Hein, 2019). Historical geospatial mapping can help us understand how people have changed cities and institutions over time and in conjunction with complex economic, political, social and cultural transformations.

2 Methodology

The first case explores the possibilities of engaging site-specific artistic practices on historical sites with the local communities as an approach to local knowledge production about/on particular places in the historic city. Taking an interdisciplinary interpretative approach, based on the examination of discourses in the respective research fields, the focus is set on the classical and digital ethnographic analysis of the artistic practices and how they could be used for development of placemaking approaches in the city of Belgrade. The second case uses digitization in musealization processes to reveal a historical legacy from a fourteenth-century cultural heritage. The case uses a relevant architectural and archaeological site from Romania and refers to the very late scientific archaeological excavations and museal valorization, which started in the late twentieth century. Contemporary placemaking practices entail re-valorization plans with new modern exhibitions based on virtual reconstructions, holograms and 3D images of objects. The third case uses digitization in the form of GIS techniques, digital photo-elicitation and in-person and online interviews. A GIS database evaluates the different options to characterize the historic urban cores. What the experimental study seeks is to develop cohesive and inclusive activities in historic centres by analysing the attributes and values of the built environment. Therefore, it implies the application of a range of traditional and innovative tools adapted to the local context. The fourth case study explores Hamburg as a case of port city relationships and development since the medieval period using historical digital geospatial research to better understand the changing relationship between water and land, port and city actors over time. Researchers chose to start the case study in 1300, when the Hanseatic League helped sustain the urban development of cities around the North Sea. The authors convey the historic roots of urban planning and contemporary heritage sites, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel in this long-term approach.

3 Cases

The cases the authors put forward in relation to the use of cultural heritage as an inspiration for placemaking in the historic city comprise the realm of the site-specific arts in the city of Belgrade (Serbia), archaeology in the case of Bucharest (Romania), architecture in Ávila (Spain) and waterfront redevelopment in Hamburg (Germany).

The case of Belgrade situates an artistic site-specific project, “In S(p)ite of Fire”, set in the historic district of Kosančićev venac2 within the Belgrade city centre on the site of the old National Library. The site is analysed in relation to the possible changes in public space and the activation of cultural memory of heritage sites with the contribution of the local community for creation of meaningful places. Bucharest, particularly the Old Court in the historical centre, was the residence of Vlad Tepes (the historical Dracula, prince of Transylvania), built in the fourteenth century. The case is relevant because recent archaeological findings reveal a historical reality different from previously held beliefs. The approach to the project on Ávila highlights the relevance of the idealistic World Heritage Site scenarios. It interprets parallel and alternative placemaking practices about the cultural appropriation of informal elements. In doing so, it critically reviews how historical values can accommodate untold pasts and other contemporary architectural and anthropological informalities. The case of Hamburg is an example of the way in which UNESCO World Heritage nominations are framed in regard to specific practices, such as shipping, and select materials such as water. The transformation of the HafenCity over more than two decades exemplifies the multifaceted ways, including challenges and opportunities for planning, architecture and heritage, in which a former port can be transformed in a multifunctional urban district while maintaining a certain waterfront flair.

3.1 Belgrade, Serbia

3.1.1 Presentation

Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe, tracing its first urban settlement to the third century BC. As a result of its turbulent history, Belgrade has for centuries been built and rebuilt, retaining the influences of diverse inhabitants and their cultures. Today, as the capital of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade has multiple historic layers in its city fabric and important cultural heritage sites, such as the Belgrade Fortress. Within the historical city centre, there are also many districts, streets and plateaus that contribute to the cultural diversity of Belgrade’s cultural heritage.

3.1.2 Placemaking

Artistic practices are an important element of the cultural life of the city, acting as platforms for a conscious dialogue of artists with the city in public spaces. Furthermore, art in public spaces has been used to contribute to collective memory and to the creation of meaning of the city spaces, mostly through public festivals and initiatives originating from the independent cultural scene. However, the engagement of public art in improving public spaces with cultural, historical and natural values in Serbian cities has been present only recently through specialized urban design education programmes and projects, which aimed at awareness-raising and integrating public art into the process of urban planning and placemaking (Đukanović & Živković, 2015). It has been recognized that there is a need for place-based, culturally sensitive and integrative approaches to public places through small space interventions and events, with a goal of enhancing their meaning, use and value (ibid.). Additionally, there is a need to integrate cultural heritage into the public spaces of the city as an asset to its sense of place and as a culturally sustainable form of action (Fairclough et al., 2015). As Christine Boyer reminds us in her critical examination of visual and mental models by which the urban environment has been recognized, depicted and planned, “We are forced to create new paths of the city’s memory, new maps that will help us resist all the overly programmed and all-encompassing messages of our consumer culture” (Boyer, 1996, p. 64). Through artistic actions, the purpose and role of particular sites in the historic cities are being re-actualized and animated in a specific artistic way, thus contributing to the new possible uses of public spaces. Such participatory site-specific artistic actions use architecture as scenography, by including the whole ambience of streets and buildings in the artistic installation, and also involving the local community.

Figure 3.1
Figure 3.1
An artistic performance in Belgrade by Dragan Stojcevski (2021)

3.1.3 Results and Added Value

The case of the artistic site-specific project “In S(p)ite of Fire”, an interactive process of re-examining collective memory and the research of the local community of the Kosančićev venac district within the historical city of Belgrade conducted in relation to this artistic project (Kraguljac Ilić, 2012), are selected aiming to show how this kind of artistic practices can be harnessed for placemaking by activating collective memory and local knowledge of the community. The “In S(p)ite of Fire” project was conducted as a multimedia art installation, its title functioning as a kind of metaphor, suggesting that – regardless of the fire that took place on that historic location – it nurtured the memory of the past of the site. The idea was to revive the memory of the burned library,3 and for this purpose the author Dragan Stojčevski created a scenography of scaffolding in the dimensions of the former building of the National Library and in this way created a virtual library inside and around which numerous artistic actions by artists from the country and abroad were performed. Within this artistic project, public space was used as a kind of public forum, attended both by artists, visitors and the residents of this historic district. The research which was conducted in the framework of the aforementioned project, included the analysis of inhabitants’ relationship to the historical site in the evocative discourse of the bombing of the National Library (1941). The aim of the research was to establish a correlation between the historic and living environment through the artistic practices and storytelling, that is, experienced and retold memory, connecting memories, life attitudes and visions from the life of the inhabitants of Kosančićev venac. Furthermore, the focus was on examining the possibility of a new interpretation of the heritage site and its collective memory – creating and assigning the meaning of place, that is, placemaking.

3.2 Bucharest, Romania

3.2.1 Presentation

The Old Court is one of Romania’s most relevant medieval heritage sites. It is located in the historical centre of Bucharest, the most visited city of Romania, placed between Selari, Lipscani, Baratiei and Calea Mosilor Streets. This case study is a relevant example of heritage placemaking in Romania, serving the legend of Dracula and one of his residences as an example. The first systematic archaeological excavations in the area of the Old Court started in 1953 and continued until 1972, when they were stopped due to the construction of the museum. The archaeologists uncovered the long evolution of the main building, starting from the late fourteenth century to the last decade of the eighteenth century. In the previous decades, new archaeological excavations were carried out (Negru, 2001; Sandu-Cuculea, 2009; Clesiu, 2020). In the middle of the fifteenth century, in 1458–1459, Vlad Tepes, the prince of Wallachia, well-known as the inspiration for the character of Dracula in the Bram Stoker novel, built a castle by covering the wall of the previous one with stones from the river. Through time, other princes of Wallachia restored and modernized the structure to serve as their official residence. The palace experienced its golden era during the reign of Prince Constantin Brancoveanu, who was killed in Istanbul in 1714 with his sons. Foreign travellers have appreciated the magnificent stone columns, pictures and garden (Almaș & Panait, 1974, pp. 14–16). In 1972–1974, during the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Museum of Curtea Veche (the Old Court) was erected. The Old Court Museum has a tourist track from the underground to the first level. There, visitors can view the different periods of the palace stratigraphically, from the late fourteenth century to the eighteenth century, and relevant artefacts discovered in this place. A few years ago, the museum started a new project. It will present new materials, including items from the medieval period through the use of new technologies, such as virtual reality and views of 3D objects, to engage visitors in a more approachable manner.

Figure 3.2
Figure 3.2
Old Court archaeological site in Bucharest (2021)
Source: Mircea Negru

3.2.2 Placemaking

Under the Old Court, archaeologists discovered historic structures and objects from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. These findings tell the story of one of the most well-known palaces of the Walachian princes. The archaeological excavations under the Old Court offer visitors a possibility to see the restored construction phases of the palace. Many of the discovered archaeological objects, such as pottery, tools, coins and so on, are on exhibit. The Old Court is the most famous promenade place in Bucharest. Every week, thousands of tourists visit the historical city, and the Old Court is a compulsory part of the journey. This area is the most attractive place for evening leisure activities due to its restaurants and souvenir vendors. The downside of this heritage-led intervention is evidenced by tensions between stakeholders’ interests. Visitors’ “placemaking” has affected inhabitants across the whole area. Perhaps this has been due to a lack of an ethical, or a largely agreed, form of community-based placemaking practice.

3.2.3 Results and Added Value

This example of heritage placemaking is regarded as the most relevant historical objective for Bucharest. Many of the Wallachian princes lived in the Old Court. One of them was Vlad Tepes, the historical Dracula. However, the presence of a great number of tourists could be considered an invasive presence to the inhabitants in the area, especially those living in the historical centre. The late-night bars and the noise visitors generate could be a disturbance for the inhabitants. Also, the interdiction of cars on the streets surrounding the Old Court could be a problem for the people that live there. In fact, the number of inhabitants in the surrounding area of the Old Court have decreased significantly during the last few decades, since the municipality started a programme of restoration of the whole Old Court area. This is an example of reconversion from an inhabited area to a heritage placemaking area. Curtea Veche (The Old Court) has become a brand and is the best known example of placemaking based on archaeological and historical heritage in the city of Bucharest. There are cultural and gastronomic enterprises, such as pastry shops, restaurants and a famous publishing house.

3.3 Ávila, Spain

3.3.1 Presentation

The Old Town of Ávila was founded in the eleventh century to protect the Spanish territories from the Moors. This “City of Saints and Stones” has kept its purity of form as it can still be seen in the Gothic cathedral and the fortifications. This case study critically explores the evaluation of a city to establish new perspectives for the management of values and attributes. The unconventional interpretation of this city reviews the UNESCO Operational Guidelines to achieve new perspectives to the cultural diversity of this place. At this point, it is important to refer to the cultural heritage laws from Castilla-León (2002). Regional laws make no mention of the intangible nature of historic cities or conjuntos históricos. The law makes reference to values linked to the second and third criteria: “the conservation of ethnographic and anthropological values [and] the landscape and the general characteristics of its environment”.

Figure 3.3
Figure 3.3
Twentieth-century clothing store in the Old Town of Ávila (2021)
Source: Juan A. García-Esparza

As a scientific contribution to the research study, the “DocPlaces” project recognizes the value of local urban narratives as rich stories in information on socio-spatial practices, perceptions and expectations of citizens. The research links the literary field with those of architecture and urban planning. Thus, this project addresses narrative interpretations, both of inhabitants and visitors, as forms of behaviour, expressions and adaptations that result in idiosyncratic innovation and experimentation in the urban fabric. The project is based on four assumptions related to the transformation of the historic centre through cultural processes, where wider and more inclusive alternative areas of great importance for sociocultural and architectural diversity may emerge.

3.3.2 Placemaking

The methodological approach complements the proposals of English Heritage (Historical Area Assessment) and UNESCO (Historical Urban Landscape), which aim to integrate the social and cultural aspects of places. In this sense, the project analyses how the eventual cultural, architectural and social stratification depends on the ability to select and assimilate different visions of heritage through assessment activities (Altaba & García-Esparza, 2018).

This objective has been developed by sharing periods of bibliographic research with some fieldwork employing traditional and digital ethnography. The fieldwork entailed open workshops that has allowed the research team to delineate and spatially classify the results to eventually understand their theoretical implications. The office work consists of data analysis through mental mapping and the use of a geographic information system (GIS).

On-site actions allowed the establishment of porous relations between the past and the present, exposing informalities and the different ways in which individuals and societies experienced and desired the place. In this regard, the Spanish cultural policy barely interprets this conjunto

histórico as a living habitat. The historic town hardly hosts relations of sociocultural superposition, succession and continuity; it mainly hosts static phenomena that break up and cross temporal discontinuities.

3.3.3 Results and Added Value

The final aim of the case was to correlate the generated knowledge within World Heritage Site policies and to offer the scientific reasoning to evaluate the contemporary historical city as a result of appreciating and experiencing urban cultural specificities. Therefore, the first goal accomplished of this project was to analyse the interdependencies between physical conservation, social awareness and cultural vitality by defining what is essential, distinctive and unique to its community. The second objective of the project lies in the need to create an inclusive procedure to better understand the evolution and conservation of medium-sized historic cities of Europe.

To do so, researchers decided to carry out what was initially called the “Historic Centres and Cultural Routes’ Meetings and Interviews”. In these interviews, locals, led by an expert in sociology and cultural heritage, asked questions about the town’s architecture conservation. Inhabitants themselves explained some of the features of the buildings, and some peculiarities related to the past use of spaces. Fieldwork provided researchers with one more relevant result: the retrieval and storage of common information. Its importance relied on making it open access, online through a full range of formats, from audio files, to images, videos, panels, routes and songs. The mapping support allowed researchers to connect the historic city to alternative spaces with complementary cultural sources. The final aim of the sources and the results was to promote activities for a low-density form of tourism (Altaba & García-Esparza, 2021).

Accordingly, maps and linked datasets allowed data storage about events, attendance and other supplementary material. Connecting the map to social media information available online may serve townships in the future to know what is most appreciated, what places or tours are more in demand, and to prevent over-attendance at certain events or even propose alternative events to disperse the attendees (García-Esparza & Altaba, 2018; 2020).

3.4 Hamburg, Germany

3.4.1 Presentation

Founded in the ninth century as a fortification, the Hammaburg, Hamburg has for most of its history been a port. For centuries, the city’s long-distance waterway and major shipping lane was the Elbe River. Historical views of Hamburg, such as those by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg (1572) or that by E. Galli (1680), show the city from the south. Ships occupy the foreground of a fortified city dominated by churches and houses. Harbour activity here was physically associated and integrated with the city for many centuries. The Braun and Hogenberg map of 1588 shows how port functions effectively integrated the city’s different urban landscapes. Ships and barges would transport goods by canal to warehouses connected to the offices and houses of traders. Merchants with global connections have traditionally held the main political positions in Hamburg. While the urban form largely developed in response to local needs, Hamburg’s leaders have always taken into account international technological and design concepts and borrowed or modified them as necessary to supplement innovative local developments. While the port and its traders historically shaped the city, a range of international actors connected with them made large-scale changes in the urban fabric.

3.4.2 Placemaking

Parts of the city’s larger strategy for rethinking its water and land, port and city relationship are the reuse of the city’s landmark warehouse district, the Speicherstadt, and the transformation of a 157-hectare (388-acre) former harbour area next to it into the HafenCity. Labelled Europe’s largest urban renewal project, it had its roots in the 1990s. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reopening of Hamburg’s traditional hinterland, the city leadership, through the city-owned Hamburger Hafen und Lagerhausgesellschaft mbH (today HHHLA Hafen und Logistik AG), purchased firms and land in the area with the view to making it into a central European node. After an international competition, the winning design by the Dutch-German team Hamburgplan with Kees Christiaanse | ASTOC became the basis for the master plan of 2000. The plan presents HafenCity as an extension of the inner city, almost doubling its size. In contrast to other waterfront redevelopment projects and to Hamburg’s history of separating urban functions into distinct zones, the new district is designed to be multifunctional and socially integrative, including office buildings, housing, educational and cultural facilities, and is designed to include various income groups. Through extensive design competitions, city planners are carefully monitoring and controlling the area’s architectural and urban design. Building on the examples of large-scale urban restructuring in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the construction of the HafenCity stands in context with other examples of urban transformation. Next to the HafenCity are the Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel areas that have since been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Figure 3.4
Figure 3.4
Hamburg HafenCity (2021)
Source: Carola Hein

3.4.3 Results and Added Value

Through historic geospatial mapping we have explored the underlying reasons for the close connection between port and city through the centuries. The case of Hamburg is a situation in which port and city have remained intertwined and have been governed together. As the city grew, so did the port. In 1937, Hamburg incorporated the ports of Altona and Harburg to become a large urban port city region with shipping, port and administrative capacities (Hein & Schubert, 2020). Based on these maps, we can posit that a city in the vicinity of a port benefits from having control over the port’s space and development for environmental, social and safety reasons. A better understanding of the temporal and scalar development of port city territories from a comparative perspective and of the intersection between spatial and social development can inspire better planning for port city territories. For example, one might argue that Rotterdam’s striving to increase its standing in the ranking of maritime capitals (Späth, 2019) and to catch up with Hamburg would entail a closer collaboration among port and city stakeholders. Collaboration among port and city actors has thus both facilitated economic growth, heritage preservation and placemaking in a unique way.

4 Discussion on Outcomes and Results of the Four Cases

Cultural expressions and heritage regulation can provide new forms of appropriation and integration in permanent scenarios of the past. Following this, contemporary mutable relationships between places and society are dependent on how transversal approaches boost relational dynamics by engaging stakeholders with cultural heritage and in defining the future of historic cities. Accordingly, placemaking practices today behold a set of values that enhances the social and communal spectrum when referring to heritage caring and appreciation. This has been stressed recently by the historic urban landscape (HUL) approach through the notions of diversity, collectivism and creativity (UNESCO, 2011; UNESCO, 2016b).

The four cases have made explicit how the preservation of cultural heritage inspires placemaking methods. Therefore, the valorization of cultural structures, artefacts and expressions, all as a fundamental part of the historic city, implies reflecting on the potential transdisciplinarity of approaches and the likely values of stakeholders. All cases engaged in one form or another a pluralistic view of places, from those of neighbours to the ones of authorities, and without disregarding the eventual saying of public and private organizations as well.

The ICOMOS (2011, art. 3h) view on this matter is reflected in the Valletta principles, found in the section on governance:

Good governance makes provision for organizing broad orchestration amongst all stakeholders: elected authorities, municipal services, public administrations, experts, professional organizations, voluntary bodies, universities, residents, etc. This is essential for the successful safeguarding, rehabilitation and sustainable development of historic towns and urban areas.

Eduardo Rojas (2016) has recently referred to stakeholders as

those that traditionally promote the conservation of the urban heritage – members of the cultural elite, scholars, philanthropists, conservation boards and international organisations – there are other stakeholders – such as property owners, real estate investors, informal producers and local users – that at different points in time, and under different incentives, can either promote the conservation effort or oppose to it.

And finally, the UN’s New Urban Agenda (2017) defines stakeholders in paragraph 48:

We encourage effective participation and collaboration among all relevant stakeholders, including local governments, the private sector and civil society, women, organisations representing youth, as well as those representing persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, professionals, academic institutions, trade unions, employers’ organisations, migrant associations and cultural associations, in order to identify opportunities for urban economic development and identify and address existing and emerging challenges.

Regarding the target groups, the authors classified them according to geographic origins and age, mainly. All cases dealt with locals and foreigners, elders, adults, teenagers and children, the most prominent being adults and youngsters. As visitors and guests, placemaking practices involved local and foreign tourists without distinction. As shown in the four cases, transversal approaches that deal with diverse institutional settings, policy and legal tools need stakeholders to be engaged at different levels through a set of adaptive strategies provided by a combination of analytical and digital methods. The results in Belgrade point to the added value of such participatory artistic practices on the historical sites in their reactivation for the placemaking. The artistic intervention involved citizens and the local community in the process of re-examining their attitudes towards the historical site of the old National Library at Kosančićev venac. This artistic intervention stimulated the imagination of the inhabitants and visitors, opening new ways of perceiving their local living environment, and also aiming at finding culturally sustainable solutions to the future of this historical site in the city of Belgrade.

The outcome in Bucharest employs the context of the archaeological and musealization programme. The experience suggests that town inhabitants may lobby for a mobiliary development project in the Centre of the City. The project would help enhance the Old Court appraisal. Accordingly, placemaking activities that favour recognition and knowledge dissemination are the decisional factor that may impose the valorization of the archaeological heritage in the historic centre of Bucharest.

In the case of Ávila, one of the most valuable findings of the project is the intellectual reconstruction of specific parts of the historic city. The fieldwork exercise helped locals re-enact the unconventional practices in the urban fabric as valuable “objects” to be explained to others. The reading of traces, symbols and signs enriched forms of recognition, attachment and pride. The history of Ávila, through its legends and gossip, gave fieldwork a special ambience supported by ancestral knowledge. In-person activities found a way to accommodate authentic and meaningful experiences for outsiders.

The case of Hamburg shows the importance of long-term planning and conceptualization through mapping, used here as a gap finder, to allow for richer investigations, denser methodological inquiries and multidisciplinary exchange as a means to facilitate comparative research, and of applying approaches (such as the UNESCO historic urban landscape approach) in diverse spatial settings.

5 Lessons Learned

Placemaking activities around the architecture of the historic city of Ávila have served to understand that buildings, objects and spaces evoke stories, ranging from remarkable events or people to everyday practices and uses. Most objects are designed and placed for interaction and are recognized as of relevance or mundane.

  • The scope of the architectural approach to placemaking is precisely about the mundane details of architecture that speak of a continuous dialogue between epochs, people and places. For placemakers, materials can be attractive or just informative, but the two inform memories and events. Buildings, objects and spaces in the historic city appeal to psychological comfort because they help satisfy the intellectual and emotional appropriation of a shared space and, subsequently, to recognize cultural expressions, even those that are mundane and contemporary, that help integrate, appropriate and provide meaning to the place.

  • Placemaking activities that move far from pre-established notions of heritage revolve around the idea of ethical appropriation of space, and to confront the heritage conservation paradox when evidencing the differences and complementarities of historical and contemporary, formal and informal, cultural expressions in the historic realm. The final aim of this approach is to corroborate to what extent spatial and architectural transformations have occurred over time and how neighbours perceived them.

  • According to this experience, objects are valued when appropriately explained and contextualized, just because many times, objects and practices are not recognized as historical but as informal expressions of alternative and contemporary appropriation of space. Researchers have learned, through this case, how online interviews and digital photography, and all material elements steaming from fieldwork as well, have been entangled in the re-conceptual making of the historic town.

In the case of Belgrade, the site-specific art project at the historical site of the old National Library has been taken as a point for recognizing the importance of participatory arts practices in placemaking processes. The research conducted in relation to the artistic project has shown that this vision of the place is also shared by the local community and residents of the Kosančićev venac district.

  • With the artistic intervention, the historical site was presented in a new light – it contributed to a new meaning of this place including a reconstruction of the past – collective memory and integrating local community narratives and knowledge in new forms of heritage-making in the city.

  • The interdisciplinary approach with the focus on artistic practices as an integrative tool in placemaking is positioned in opposition to the linear process of designing public spaces that ignores the multiple symbolic layers and meaning of cultural memory at historical sites. Furthermore, this approach calls for a critical ethical consideration of the regulation of heritage and involvement of both citizens and professionals in the processes of respective public policies in the city.

  • The intersections of arts-based strategies and community engagement at historical sites, as this case indicates, open up possibilities for development of participatory cultural governance contributing to placemaking as a grassroots process of place re-creation.

The Old Centre of Bucharest is the first destination for tourists and also a key place for the inhabitants. This area is small and quiet, without cars and other transport. The studies show that the historical centre is the most valued destination in Bucharest. Nevertheless, some things may be improved.

  • The scope of the archaeological excavations in the Old Court in Bucharest is to provide new structures and information about medieval daily life at the palace of the Wallachian princes. The archaeological excavations and the associated research unfolded several pieces of information where placemaking enablers such as archaeologists, architects, chemists, ethnographers and sociologists conveyed new insights from almost contemporary archaeological excavations.

  • The ethical way forward has to do with the exposition of a series of facts open to multiple interpretations. The paradigmatic case of the Old Court in Bucharest has a well-known story. Nonetheless, the Bram Stoker story was missing essential pieces of information. Being accurate is relevant for both inhabitants and those who have Bucharest as a temporary destination.

  • The interconnection between hotels, restaurants and the cultural industry is essential. However, these stakeholders are barely connected to support a plan for archaeological and architectural heritage placemaking. The food service and hotel industries in Bucharest are still not communicating enough in the creation of the Old Court to make it fit for national and international tourism.

Former port sites in Hamburg have been redesigned as part of a large urban renewal intervention. The focus was creating a multifunctional urban district at the edge of the water. The presence of the cruise ship port allows tourists to step off the boat into the HafenCity district.

  • The coordinated planning on a large piece of land, centrally controlled by the HafenCity GmbH provided a unique opportunity for urban development with respect for public spaces and multifunctional use by a diverse population. Architectural competitions aimed at guaranteeing an aesthetically meaningful approach. The use of parking lots at the ground floor level and the construction of footpaths and foot bridges allows for the evacuation of the district in the case of flooding.

  • Carefully controlled planning also laid the foundation for respectful and sometimes novel engagement with heritage elements while making sure that water management challenges and economic interests were considered.

  • Extensive open access publications and an exhibition site, the Kesselhaus, provided information to citizens and tourists throughout the construction period.

  • The UNESCO World Heritage Site application was only put into motion after the project was almost complete and after the local authorities had made their choices. Such an approach also holds many challenges.

6 Conclusions

Bringing to the fore a transversal approach of cultural heritage practices as an inspiration for placemaking in the historic city has allowed the authors to reveal the added value of doing it in a common ground. While the artistic and architectural intervention focused on the importance of citizens and the local community to be recognized in the process of re-examining attitudes and expressions towards pre-established historical sights, the archaeological and musealization programme has revealed its importance as a successful branding enterprise for the historic centre of Bucharest.

Belgrade and Ávila provoked stimulation of inhabitants and visitors through on-site workshops and related events. Hamburg also opened a visitor’s centre and published extensively on the project and the planning. All cases opened up new ways of perceiving their local living environment, and also aiming at finding culturally sustainable solutions to the future of the historical sites. The three cases agree on the recognition of parallel places, untold stories that only unfold when decision-makers recognize the realities of particular views and contexts. All cases ascertain how culture-making processes have occurred over time and how now stakeholders have a different perception about the elements and stories of the past that populate their landscape. A more open interpretation of sites exists, recognizing them as valuable objects, elements and expressions of historical and contemporary uses of space. The four cases offered stakeholders alternative forms of appropriation and integration as a framework for a contextualization of social interactions and the arts in relation to daily life.

The research findings demonstrate that transversal approaches to the values of heritage confront what preservationists have not previously acknowledged. Arts and humanities multidisciplinary placemaking practices have allowed academics to approach unspoken emotions. Past academic heritage analyses, understood as aesthetic judgements, often lacked the methods to engage with the iterations of the alternative, diverse and the heterogeneous, concepts closer to the popular appropriation of space. Today, it is recognized that these multispectral forms of valuing space offer innovative insights on more ethical placemaking practices. Precisely, because there is an increasing understanding that elements in the historic city are complex and multidimensional.

Accordingly, digitization has been the driver of change to convey the placemaking methods more democratically. The first case explored arts through an interpretative approach focusing on the ethnographic analysis of artistic practices and how they could be digitally used for development of future plural placemaking approaches. The second case used musealization technologies to reveal untold and parallel stories from a medieval heritage. The digital tools comprised exhibitions based on virtual reconstructions through holograms and 3D images that fostered engagement. The third and fourth cases used GIS techniques, digital photo-elicitation and in-person and digital interviews. A digital platform allowed researchers to characterize the historic centre by registering the attributes and values of the built environment.

Acknowledgements

Funding details: The case study of Belgrade received institutional funding for research activities of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, agreement number 451-03-68/2020-14. The case study of Ávila received funds from MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033, grant no. PID2019-105197RA-I00.

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1

A critical review of the term “adequate” is necessary in light of the above.

2

According to the oldest reliable archaeological sources, the area of Kosančićev venac was already inhabited in the Neolithic.

3

The National Library of Serbia was one of the first buildings to be destroyed in the bombing of Belgrade by the Germans on 6 April 1941. It was a treasury of movable cultural heritage that originated from across the entire territory of Europe and which covered a chronological period of almost a thousand years.

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Placemaking in Practice Volume 1

Experiences and Approaches from a Pan-European Perspective

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