Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO, with Rahul Mehrotra
Urban Conservation is today a relevant planning practice and academic discipline. Originally developed in Europe and America, urban conservation concepts and ideas are now practiced in many regions of the world. A rich toolkit exists, while a system of internationally accepted principles of conservation has been put in place and is reflected in the main cultural legal instruments such as the World Heritage Convention. In most cases, this involves the definition of historic districts with special rules and control mechanisms.
However, the system proves weak and powerless in the face of the changes that characterize the contemporary world and its urban scene. These are linked to urbanization and environmental change, and to the shift of decision-making power from national to local governments, as well as from local to international actors in areas such as tourism, real estate or business. These forces are all pulling in different directions, leaving the conservation discipline often confused and in disarray.
Today, many of the most important historic urban areas existing in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Islamic World have lost their traditional functions and are in the process of transformation that threatens to undermine their integrity and historic, social and artistic values.
A growing awareness is emerging that the traditional approach to urban conservation needs to be revised. The definition of what is ‘historic’ needs to come from participatory processes. Urban conservation processes and approaches need to be extended beyond the built environment. The historic city needs not to be seen as an ‘exception’ to urban planning and management rules, but as a resource to guide contemporary urban sustainable development.
The lecture will discuss the current trends and the main issues of the contemporary debate on urban conservation.
Francesco Bandarin, architect and planner, served as Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre from September 2000 to March 2011. He was appointed UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture in May 2010. He trained as an architect (Venice, 1975) and as an urban planner (UC Berkeley, 1977) and has pursued an academic career as Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Venice (IUAV) and a professional career as a consultant for international organizations in the field of urban conservation and development. He was Director of the Italian Special Projects Office for the Safeguarding of Venice and its Lagoon, and Director of Special Programmes for the 2000 Jubilee Preparations in Rome. He has written numerous specialized publications and articles, and co-authored “The Historic Urban Landscape: Managing in an Urban Century”, published in 2012.
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