Until recently, the world order on managing and conserving urban heritage was largely focused on the preservation/conservation/restoration of tangible assets like monuments that were found in the historic precincts of the city (Taylor, 2016). However, lately, there is growing consciousness in the global community that urban conservation is not limited to the safeguarding of isolated assets. Rather, it includes the preservation of a wider array of phenomena – both tangible and intangible – like the layering of urban fabric, patterns of urban growth and development (and interpretation of their causes), current developmental trends and, the attitude of the peoples (WHITRAP, no date).
The Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) is an approach that heeds this consciousness (Taylor, 2016: 473). It considers urban precincts to be more alike cultural landscapes than static sites (Taylor, 2016: 472). It also recognizes that much like the modern concept of heritage, “urban landscapes” are ever changing and dynamic – the form and characteristics of these areas change depending on the prevalent socio-economic market pressures of the time.
The UNESCO recommendation on the HUL defines it as, “the urban area understood as the result of a historic layering of cultural and natural values and attributes, extending beyond the notion of “historic center” or “ensemble” to include the broader urban context and its geographical setting” (UNESCO, 2011: 3). The broader context referred to here, includes, “the site’s topography, geomorphology…and natural features, its built environment, both historic and contemporary, …its open spaces…, land use patterns and spatial organization…as well as all other elements of the urban structure”, next to “social and cultural practices and values, economic processes and the intangible dimensions of heritage…” (UNESCO, 2011: 3). At the core of this approach is the belief that, appropriated by its history, a unique combination Module 2 (0923294): Are Conservation and Development Mutually Exclusive in the Historic Urban Landscape? A Study of Liverpool and Vienna.
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of these factors develops in each city, which in turn, lends the city a distinct individuality. It also stresses that all attempts to conserve urban heritage be aimed at achieving a larger goal –retaining this individuality that expresses itself in tangible and intangible ways.
Largescale urbanisation and technological advancement has transformed the world, and urban spaces or cities have provided a forum for this revolution. With 54% of the world’s population living in urban areas (UN, 2014), and an expected increase in these numbers, the emphasis on retaining individual identities in urban landscapes has never been more essential (UNESCO, 2016: 56-57). Additionally, with the increasing appeal that urban centres have and the large volumes of migration they elicit, come inevitable market pressures driven by real estate (Bertaud, 2005). This is a major contributor to the antagonism between development and conservation. The dilemma most historic cities are facing today is how to find a balance between the two.
The European cities of Liverpool and Vienna, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS) potentially facing delisting due to proposed large scale developments which pose a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) or the grounds on which they were inscribed on the world heritage register. In both cases, developmental needs are contending with historic values in more ways than one and leading to a dispute between stakeholders.
In light of the international adoption of the concept of HUL in 2011, this paper aims to explore if conservation and development are mutually exclusive concepts in urban landscapes. Specifically, in Liverpool and Vienna, it seeks to find whether conservational and developmental aspirations of culturally and historically rich cities like these, can simultaneously be met while considering the interests of all stakeholders.Module 2 (0923294): Are Conservation and Development Mutually Exclusive in the Historic Urban Landscape? A Study of Liverpool and Vienna.
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1.3 RESEARCH LIMITATIONS
As this research was time and word limited, the author has relied on the discussions of the Engage Liverpool series, Institute of Cultural Capital reports, and the activity on the Initiative Stadtbildschutz website for resident stakeholder perspectives.
Owing to the “fast-paced” and contentious nature of this debate and, language barriers (for Vienna), the author has assumed the local authority’s approach from statements, management plans and reports of both City Councils.
Additionally, attempts to secure comments from UNESCO representatives received a low response (Dr. Isabelle Anatole-Gabriel, Chief of Europe and North America Unit – no response; and Dr. Minja Yang, former Deputy Director, World Heritage Centre – felt unable to comment). Hence UNESCO’s stance has been assumed from various published documents.
The intention of this study was to account for the perspectives of all involved stakeholders. The research was carried out as follows:
1. Primary research: a. Email-based interviews (Chairman, Initiative Stadtbildshutz for Vienna)
b. Telephonic interviews (President, World Heritage UK; Chairman, Engage Liverpool)
2. Secondary research: Desk based assessment of – a. Books and journal articles for perspectives of experts
b. Agency and advisory body reports like UNESCO WHC decisions and ICOMOS recommendations