Edinburgh Research Explorer

Schools Network of Architecture + World Heritage

Project: Research Collaboration with external organisation

Description

Many European cities have already received the “world heritage” label from Unesco or are in the process of obtaining it. Even if economic factors are indeed present in such an undertaking, the status of “World Heritage Site” means for society as a whole and especially for architects, a particularly rich field of study, for research and project alike. It also represents for architecture students an endless field for developing professional skills and expertise. It is indeed very likely that the attentive study of the past and particularly its preservation, will remain one of the key stances of contemporary modernity for a long time

While working with the Edinburgh school of Architecture on the creation of a Unesco heritage site, the Naoh association (New Architectures of Heritage) met with teachers-researchers of the Architecture and Landscape Architecture School of Bordeaux who were working on the same topic. There, the idea of forming a network of European Schools paired with the Unesco sites, was put forth. Several exchanges have taken place since 2012 between the Architectural schools of Edinburgh, Bordeaux and soon with Prague as well; as well as with the authorities in charge of these sites (Edinburgh World Heritage Trust and the Centre d'interprétation de l'architecture et du patrimoine in Bordeaux).

Based on the critical analysis of the criteria of authenticity and integration that Unesco requires when applying for and managing sites listed as world heritage, these exchanges have several goals. They aim to interpret these notions through the protection procedures that vary depending on each country's culture of preservation, and on the exploration of different types of contemporary intervention (past and future) on each site, as well as their impact on the city. The Unesco urban planning sites must showcase the best of conservation practises. They must also become laboratories for innovative contemporary interventions. Topics of study include the idea of “living heritage”; How can we continue to “let live and transform” a architectural heritage that we must also protect? On the scale of a city, must we protect architectural objects or the means by which they were historically created? When do we start to harm a site's authenticity or integration?

From these topics, the comparative study of the different approaches regarding world heritage sites depending on local customs should lead to reflexion regarding the acceptation of the constraints that flow from the applied protections, must mainly identify the social issues regarding global change. Is cultural heritage perceived as an identitary refuge when faced with a dreaded future or is it a pedestal on which to project society further into the future?

This network will allow for student exchanges for research, seminars, long projects or workshops, partnered with the professionals and the cultural heritage institutions of each country. For teachers, this partnership could lead to pedagogical or even research projects. The dynamic brought about by working as part of a network also favors equally their cultural broadcasting and the appreciation of their architectural heritage to their hosting cities partners. If your school is involved or interested in educational or research programs on UNESCO heritage sites, please indicate it to us using the following link : Unesco heritage sites.