09-14 SESSION 2 Changing Meanings of Heritage Places

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 11:00-12:30 UTC
Language: English

Heritage is a complex term that embraces a huge range of tangible and intangible values including its meanings that gives its unique character and sense of place. The values that people assign to places are not static; they change gradually over time following socio-economic changes or rapidly because of conflict, war, or natural disasters. The process of assessing the values follows an international system as well as local. However, changing meanings has an impact on the integrity, authenticity, and management of heritage. The plurality of place meaning requires employing various methods and tools for mapping and interpreting these meanings, such as community consultation, stakeholders’ workshops, digital tools, the internet, crowd sourcing, social media…. etc. 

The present associate theme on ‘changing meaning’ will explore various methods that are used to assess and map out the meaning and/or sense of heritage places and their changes. It will explore how digital technologies make it possible to map out heritage meanings for civil society (including youth), the various local and international stakeholders alongside the national presentation by States Parties. Through a webinar, we will also explore how new meanings and associated values can be incorporated into the recognized Outstanding Universal Value of existing World Heritage properties.

The organizers are keen to invite various examples from different regions, with a focus on good practice in how to map and assess the meaning of heritage place beyond the official designation, and  engage in dialogue with a variety of stakeholders from different regions. The outcomes of this dialogue will be a set of recommendation that will inform an inclusive place-making process as well as the decision-making in heritage management. It will also hopefully influence the World Heritage Committee and its advisory bodies to adopt more flexible approaches to the redefinition of the Outstanding Universal Value of existing World Heritage properties.

Christopher Young, Heritage Consultant and former Head of International Advice at English Heritage.
Hiba Alkhalaf, Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Department of Classics at King’s College London.


1. Aleppo Reconstruction- Syria by Dr Ali Esmil, CEO of Aga Khan Cultural Services in Syria.

Aleppo has witnessed a large scale of destruction during the conflict, particularly during (201-2016). Since then, the rehabilitation and rebuilding in Aleppo has started focusing mainly on market places (Souq). They are funded and implemented by the Aga Khan Development Network, and the project of Souk al-Saqatiya” has won the Grand Award for the category of Heritage Sites and Buildings of ICCROM-ATHAR. The project succeeded in rehabilitating a popular marketplace by drawing upon a high-quality sustainable restoration work within the Reconstruction Project, while training the local cadres and contractors. 

Ali is one of the founders of many initiatives and programs at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, particularly around the preservation of the old city in Damascus and Aleppo, and most notably the project for capacity building and world-class training for distinguished architecture students in Damascus and Aleppo. He has received many local and international grants and awards, including the Chevening and ICCROM Sharjah Award.

2. The rehabilitation of Beit Yakan- Cairo by El-Habashi

Beit Yakan is a privately renovated 17th century house located in Darb el Labbana in Historic Cairo in Egypt. It is now the headquarters of its renovator’s Professional Practice (Turath Conservation Group) and NGO (Center for Revitalization of the City). It organizes events and workshops for the community which focus on heritage and art/culture. This project Cairo has won various awards and recognitions for its success into brining heritage, development, community & Sustainability.

Alaa is an Egyptian professor of architecture and heritage conservation and chairs the Department of Architecture in Menoufia University.  His research and practice aim to find a preservation framework that respects the specificities of local history and traditions. He has many conservation projects in Egypt and in other Arab countries whereby he develops heritage conservation approaches appropriate to different local values, identities and specificities. He also assists in registering, managing, and evaluating sites listed as World Heritage.

3. Mapping collective memory of Banja Luka – Bosnia and Herzegovina by Dr Jelena Stankovic

How does a place know itself? One of the ways a place knows itself is how it is represented on maps where we can see its cartographic history & identity. People draw maps in order to understand the city in which they live and record the collective memory preventing the city from being forgotten. This has caused the need for drawing new collective memory maps.

The memory maps of Banja Luka are based on the collective memory recorded in archive materials. There were difficulties in drawing them as they required the integration of texts, photographs and maps that had to be collected and brought together into one place. Each document about Banja Luka differs in detail, especially because of changing building and street names, so compiling these sources that complement each other was how these maps were drawn. This could be applied to any city in the world, especially to ever changing and culture vibrant regions such as the Balkans.

4. Traditional architecture development: Ishikura architectural system in Takachiho. Miyazaki, Japan by William Roger Acosta Villanueva, Keio University, Graduate School of Media & Governance | Hiroto Kobayashi & Shigeru Ban laboratory.

The town of Takachiho in Miyazaki, Japan there is known as the place where the gods and Japanese mythology born. This place is also known for its beautiful and productive landscapes in which the agriculture is one of the main sources of their economy. Traditionally they are practicing farming for many years and improving their traditional techniques as well as their methods for conservation and storing of food. The construction system was used to protect food and other important belongings from exterior conditions and were part of the traditional house in this area in the south. In the last 40 years, technology arrived to these rural places, so locals started to use modern ways to keep food into safe spaces. After that, these vernacular and beautiful constructive systems were abandoned and currently are used as general deposits in really poor conditions.

5. Sensing Place: using digital platforms to engage communities with their heritage. Case studies from East London and the Caribbeange by Professor Niall Finneran & Dr Christina Welsh, University of Winchester- Department of Archaeology, Anthropology and Geography.

Niall is Reader in Historical Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Winchester where he is programme leader for the MA in Cultural Heritage and Resource Management. Educated at the Universities of Jerusalem, Cambridge and London, he actively undertakes community heritage, archaeology and maritime ethnography/archaeology projects in Devon, East London and the Caribbean. He has directed fieldwork in the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa.

Christina is Senior Fellow in Theology and Religious Studies. She plays a leading role in the Medieval Jewish Winchester Project, working closely with Winchester City Council to rediscover Winchester’s forgotten Jewish history and heritage, and to make it accessible to the general public. She is currently also engaged in research into Jewish cemeteries in Barbados as well as locally in Winchester.

6. The Ginna Kanda Programme, Identity and intervention in African’s cultural landscape in Dogon’s country, Mali by Miquel Vidal Pla, Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura, ETSAB, Av. Diagonal, 649 Barcelona, España

The Dogon Country in the Bandiagara Fault in Mali is partially recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is a fragile cultural landscape based on mud architecture, mostly attached to the vertical section of the fault. The abandonment of houses and barns leads to their destruction. The identity and the intangibles of the Dogon Country are the only ones of which there exists, although questioned, documentation written. The situation is extremely serious as tourism, a relative source of income and international connection have disappeared due to the social instability of the place and the armed conflicts.

Ginna Kanda, the International Forum for Extreme Cultural Landscapes Development, was created in 2010 by the professors of the Barcelona School of Architecture, Miquel Vidal as president, Angélica Ayala, principal investigator, Pamela Duran, Francesca Femenias also investigators and professor Abdoulaye Deyoko , Director of the Ecole Supérieure d ‘Ingenierie, Architecture et Urbanisme ESIAU de Bamako.