The Future of Built Heritage Conservation

A special issue of Architecture (ISSN 2673-8945).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2024 | Viewed by 9847

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester Technology Centre, 103 Oxford House, Oxford Road, Manchester M1 7ED, UK
Interests: architectural heritage; critical heritage theory; building conservation philosophy; cultural heritage; intangible heritage

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The traditional understanding of heritage as tangible (physical) sites that represent authorized discourses and histories is being challenged by the postmodern conceptualization of heritage as a dynamic and pluralistic process (or performance) across space and time. Critical heritage studies, contemporary conservation theory and adaptive reuse are all contributing towards the idea of heritage as an immaterial, people-focused activity that has the power to include or exclude.

Beginning from Laurajane Smith’s (2006) established premise that ‘all heritage is intangible’, this Special Issue is seeking papers that critically evaluate, through experimental and theoretical results, how architectural heritage and adaptive reuse relate to this critical conception of heritage. What is the relationship between approaches taken towards built heritage and the contemporary thematic issues made prominent in critical heritage studies? How can architectural, conservationist and adaptative reuse strategies evolve to maintain relevance to the topical debates and issues in relation to what heritage is and means in contemporary life? What other developments in neighboring fields of inquiry and professionalism (e.g., heritage management, archaeology, cultural heritage studies) might be appropriate to consider when thinking about the evolution of built heritage conservation in this way?

This Special Issue welcomes papers that consider the future of built heritage conservation from the following perspectives:

  • The dynamic(s) between physical and non-physical heritages—intangible cultural heritage safeguarding within built heritage conservation, the transmission of intangible heritage through physical heritage(s), folklore and storytelling within the conservation process.
  • Built heritage conservation and participation—inclusive conservation, equity through conservation, community engagement and ethical considerations within the conservation process, the social process of conservation.
  • Built heritage and memory—contentious heritage, memory making and memory practices, multi-cultural and minority heritage representation, representation of the recent past, memory and conservation methods.
  • Architectural heritage and the climate emergency—the future of retrofit and reuse, anastylosis and recycling materials, natural materials movement, social sustainability, philosophical dilemmas related to material permanence and decay.
  • Digital futures for built heritage—future experiences of heritage, digital conservation and reconstruction methods, web-based methods, data mining, the role of the metaverse, evolving understandings of ‘authenticity’ in a digital context.

This Special Issue welcomes papers from a variety of architectural and non-architectural backgrounds providing the discourse is framed around the conservation and/or adaptation of built heritage. Papers can be methodologically motivated, data-driven, case study-focused or wholly theoretical.

Dr. Johnathan Djabarouti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Architecture is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • built heritage
  • critical heritage theory
  • building conservation philosophy
  • cultural heritage and intangible heritage
  • conservation and participation
  • sustainable heritage conservation
  • digital heritage futures
  • built heritage and memory

Published Papers (6 papers)

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10 pages, 1128 KiB  
Article
Spatial Transformation—The Importance of a Bottom-Up Approach in Creating Authentic Public Spaces
by Mustapha El Moussaoui
Architecture 2024, 4(1), 14-23; https://doi.org/10.3390/architecture4010002 - 22 Dec 2023
Viewed by 612
Abstract
This study explores the integration of phenomenology in urban placemaking, focusing on the Ghobeiry neighborhood in Beirut. By examining the transformation of a public garden through a phenomenological lens, this research highlights the impact of a bottom-up approach in urban design. The methodology [...] Read more.
This study explores the integration of phenomenology in urban placemaking, focusing on the Ghobeiry neighborhood in Beirut. By examining the transformation of a public garden through a phenomenological lens, this research highlights the impact of a bottom-up approach in urban design. The methodology combines a literature review with empirical data gathered from interviews and observations within the community. The findings indicate that the initial top-down development of the public garden failed to resonate with residents, leading to its neglect. However, a shift towards community engagement, initiated by a local social activist, encouraged a sense of ownership and transformed the space into a vibrant, meaningful area. This study contributes to urban planning literature by demonstrating the practical application of phenomenological principles, emphasizing the importance of community involvement in creating authentic urban spaces. It underscores the need for inclusive, participatory approaches in urban development, offering insights into the transformative potential of engaging local narratives and experiences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Built Heritage Conservation)
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31 pages, 10519 KiB  
Article
The Protection of the Historic City: The Case of the Surroundings of the Lonja de la Seda in Valencia (Spain), UNESCO World Heritage
by Camilla Mileto and Fernando Vegas López-Manzanares
Architecture 2023, 3(4), 596-626; https://doi.org/10.3390/architecture3040033 - 07 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1127
Abstract
In geographical terms, historic cities possess an inertia in regard to the modification of urban function. This explains why buildings may change over time, but the location of the functions remains. For over a thousand years, the city of Valencia has concentrated the [...] Read more.
In geographical terms, historic cities possess an inertia in regard to the modification of urban function. This explains why buildings may change over time, but the location of the functions remains. For over a thousand years, the city of Valencia has concentrated the commercial activity of its historic centre around the building of the Lonja de la Seda, its surrounding buildings, and its adjacent spaces, streets and squares. Recent constructions coexist with centuries-old buildings, witnesses to the transformations of this urban enclave, which has retained its commercial function. Although the Lonja de la Seda was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1996, its surroundings, despite being of interest and closely linked to the protected building, were not. This article analyses the history and evolution of the built fabric and urban spaces of this complex, which represents the nerve centre for commerce in the city of Valencia. This text presents research based on studies carried out directly on the buildings in this context by the authors, as well as indirect examinations of documentation from the archives and the existing bibliography. The aim of this study is to showcase how combining material and documentary studies can lead to a broader definition of the tangible and intangible values of cultural heritage. This, in turn, could lead to the comprehensive enhancement of the historic city, where historic residential fabric and notable buildings are merely manifestations of the process for the construction of the city. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Built Heritage Conservation)
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15 pages, 267 KiB  
Article
Lost in Translation: Tangible and Non-Tangible in Conservation
by Nigel Walter
Architecture 2023, 3(3), 578-592; https://doi.org/10.3390/architecture3030031 - 21 Sep 2023
Viewed by 964
Abstract
This paper addresses the special issue theme of the response of conservation practice to shifts in heritage theory towards the intangible, through exploring some specific aspects of practice and statutory process in the UK. The paper starts with an overview of conservation in [...] Read more.
This paper addresses the special issue theme of the response of conservation practice to shifts in heritage theory towards the intangible, through exploring some specific aspects of practice and statutory process in the UK. The paper starts with an overview of conservation in the UK, and the extent to which it does or does not interface with developments in heritage theory. It explores the conventional understanding of significance—here termed ‘subtractive’—which reflects the antiquarian concerns from which conservation developed. It then considers the Ecclesiastical Exemption, a parallel consent mechanism within UK law for Christian places of worship that remain in use, which specifically recognises their need to change over time to ensure their survival. Evidence for a growing appreciation of non-tangible value and community participation in heritage is provided in recent research by The National Churches Trust into the economic and social value of church buildings to local communities across the UK. The paper concludes that a positive response to changes in heritage theory requires conservation to undertake its own theoretical work; this will involve a recognition of living buildings as central rather than peripheral both to conservation and to heritage more broadly, and a move towards a ‘generative’ understanding of significance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Built Heritage Conservation)
15 pages, 4293 KiB  
Article
Towards a Holistic Narration of Place: Conserving Natural and Built Heritage at the Humble Administrator’s Garden, China
by Youcao Ren and Johnathan Djabarouti
Architecture 2023, 3(3), 446-460; https://doi.org/10.3390/architecture3030024 - 14 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1535
Abstract
World Heritage tourism in China regulates conservation approaches employed across natural and built heritage sites. However, focusing on the revenue-generating potential of these sites sustains material authenticity and technical conservation methods. The outcome is a conflict between conservation and commercialization, where socio-cultural values [...] Read more.
World Heritage tourism in China regulates conservation approaches employed across natural and built heritage sites. However, focusing on the revenue-generating potential of these sites sustains material authenticity and technical conservation methods. The outcome is a conflict between conservation and commercialization, where socio-cultural values are overshadowed by the process of museumization. Underpinned by critical heritage theory and a focus on intangible heritage, this research seeks to confront this conflict by examining the shifting conservation practice at the Humble Administrator’s Garden (HAG), a World Heritage Site and Classical Garden of Suzhou, China. A mixed-methodological approach explores the interplay between architecture and landscape within its heritage conservation process, utilizing archival research, semi-structured interviews with HAG Management, and visitor journals. The study shows how HAG’s heritage is shaped by visitors’ personal experiences and emotions alongside expert interpretations, resulting in the foregrounding of diverse narratives that contribute to a holistic sense of place. Within its politicized system, the safeguarding of intangible heritage requires constant negotiation among the municipality, the market, and emerging narrators. Attempts to reinterpret its former heritage buildings demonstrate a changing conservation discourse as the site transitions from an exclusive literati estate to a multivocal space of cultural encounter. The study illustrates how a focus on narrative representation unifies architecture and landscape, reimagining centuries of literati culture. This makes conceptual space for considering how conservation management can inform a more holistic narration of ‘place’ at similar World Heritage sites via the foregrounding of previously silent stakeholders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Built Heritage Conservation)
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18 pages, 1004 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Social Values of Built Heritage: Participatory Methods as Ways of Knowing
by Elizabeth Robson
Architecture 2023, 3(3), 428-445; https://doi.org/10.3390/architecture3030023 - 10 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1960
Abstract
This paper explores the role participatory methods play in understanding the social values of built heritage, including people’s sense of identity, belonging, and place. It is based on research in Scotland where, as in many other countries, there is an increasing emphasis on [...] Read more.
This paper explores the role participatory methods play in understanding the social values of built heritage, including people’s sense of identity, belonging, and place. It is based on research in Scotland where, as in many other countries, there is an increasing emphasis on contemporary significance and public participation within domestic heritage management frameworks. The paper draws on the experiences and findings of a social values assessment for Cables Wynd House, a Brutalist block of flats in Edinburgh that was listed in 2017. Through the case study assessment, conducted over six months in 2019, Cables Wynd House is manifested as a multiplicity of connected realities, diverse experiences, and micro-locations. The participatory methods reveal interactions and tensions between the architectural design and aesthetics of the building and participants’ lived experiences and connections. The article argues that the mix of participatory methods provide different opportunities and ways of knowing, surfacing diversity, dissonance, and complexity. It highlights that participatory research is a collaborative process, requiring a flexible and responsive approach to methods. The paper concludes that participatory methods and collaborative approaches can provide nuanced and contextualised understandings of the social value of built heritage, which can complement but also diverge significantly from professional assessments of value. Wider adoption of these methods and the resulting understandings into the management and conservation of built heritage would support more people-centred, inclusive, and socially relevant forms of practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Built Heritage Conservation)
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13 pages, 274 KiB  
Essay
Notes towards a Definition of Adaptive Reuse
by Sally Stone
Architecture 2023, 3(3), 477-489; https://doi.org/10.3390/architecture3030026 - 28 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1908
Abstract
This essay will discuss the evolution of writings about adaptive reuse. The architectural practice is as old as the buildings themselves, yet it has scarcely been discussed or even recognised until relatively recently. The essay will document the varied influences that informed the [...] Read more.
This essay will discuss the evolution of writings about adaptive reuse. The architectural practice is as old as the buildings themselves, yet it has scarcely been discussed or even recognised until relatively recently. The essay will document the varied influences that informed the early publications (the first from 1976). The lack of easily available material (that is, books and documented buildings) meant that pioneering writers had to draw upon other sources—those beyond established architectural discussions. Therefore, these early authors were not limited by the strictures of an already established subject but were able to collate information from a variety of sources. Thus, adaptive reuse draws upon a collage of different sources, many beyond pure architecture, including installation art, fine art, curation, interior design, and urban design. Inevitably, as the subject moves from the periphery of architectural practice towards the middle ground, the number of publications has increased. This diversity has provided the subject with a greater scope, supporting the acknowledgement of the importance of technology, sustainability, and conservation in addition to ideas of heritage and culture, while also allowing for a much less Western-centric focus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Built Heritage Conservation)
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