#EURegionsWeek 2018 University Session Summary

2018 is a European Cultural Heritage Year. Its theme is ‘Sharing Heritage’ and European cities and towns are the prominent subjects of this initiative. The question concerning built environment as an important asset of the heritage of European cities in the context of innovative urban ecosystems has been raised. Best practices in successful transformation of existing structures and adaptive use of building stock can help in capacity building. The question about heritage seen into the policy perspective opened the discussion. Heritage, according to Ashworth, is “a contemporary created phenomenon which is re-created anew by each generation according to prevailing attitudes to the past and uses of the past” thus it can be a solid base for urban policies.

This narrative has been continued by linking heritage with the notion of culture and looking at its impact on cities in the broader sense. Within the framework of the EU initiative ‘Culture for Cities and Regions’ funded by Creative Europe the project ROCK (Regeneration and Optimisation of Cultural Heritage in Creative and Knowledge Cities) which aims at demonstrating how historical cities can become laboratories to test new models of urban development has been used as an example. The other important goal of the ROCK is to foster inclusion through culture and heritage.

Then more spatial dimension has been added to the topic. Both heritage and land could be considered as a resource and linked to the issue of capturing the land value. Using case study from the Flandres to illustrate the problem the debate moved to the more general question what would be the value of an urban structure for the decades to come and how actually land can be seen in this context. The ‘zero sum territorial development’ has been introduced as a potential goal  for the near future.

This of course requires ‘expanded’ notion of the heritage, which sometimes is not evident but creates a cultural landscape. The question raised was how to link this kind of heritage with the contemporary lifestyle and the requirements of the sustainable development. Existing contradictions between heritage and sustainable development which actually sit under different political logics and competencies have been mentioned in this perspective.

Traditional tools in such a situation do not seem to help. First because thy are addressed to the heritage in a traditional narrow understanding. Second, even for the latter they do not promote automatically sustainable approach. For example there is evident gap between performative model of UNESCO World Heritage management plans and conformative model of the local planning system. This is why the process of “heritagisation”, attributing the value to the built environment and rising the public awareness of this kind of heritage, including post-war development, is urgently needed.

Take away message

The notion of the heritage shall be extended. The built environment creates the value as such, also because land shall be considered as a value to be protected. The policies towards this kind of heritage shall include awareness of ‘non-evident’ heritage, including post-war development. Existing tools, especially static “protective” instruments are not sufficient. Existing contradictions between heritage and sustainable development in terms of effective governance shall be urgently overcome. Reuse and adaptation are the key words in formulating new policies.

“Make quality issues explicit in market relations and give them a strong position.” Joris Scheers, ECTP-CEU, KU Leuven and Flandres Government

“All has become heritage, from tangible to intangible, will we be able, and willing, to save everything or will we have to ‘sacrifice’ something; in case: what and why?” Laura Verdelli, University of Tours

“What could be the result  of this  European Year of Culture 2018? Europe – more than an economic community Europe – joined by a common cultural heritage.” Christa Reicher, TU Dortmund

“Heritage as a selective use of the remains uses the interpretation of the past to create the narrative of both past and present. In this sense it is a subject of urban planning and urban policies.” Izabela Mironowicz, AESOP and Wroclaw University of Science and Technology

“Cultural heritage is a powerful engine of transformation for cities.” Julie Hervé, EUROCITIES

“The presence of the UNESCO World Heritage site is an accelerator of the forms of pressure without the effective promotion of development actions, or – even less – the implementation of safeguarding actions.” Francesco Lo Piccolo, Università degli Studi di Palermo