Division Event: PlaceEconomics Planning Webinar Series on the Historic Urban Landscape Framework and Historic Preservation

Join PlaceEconomics and the Urban Design and Preservation Division for a Webinar at 1PM ET on Wednesday, December 16th, 2020 on the Historic Urban Landscape Approach.

Below is a prelude to what can be expected...

Historic Urban Landscape - Finding a Balance

Many cities throughout the world are impacted by rapid urbanization and growth, climate change, mass tourism, and market exploitation. We’ve all seen the photos of tourists in Venice walking in knee-deep water, skyscrapers next to shanty-towns, and the five-over-one apartments that are indistinguishable if you’re in Seattle or Charlotte. This push for rapid urbanization can result in homogenous patterns of development that diminish the identity of a city and its sense of place, and often lead to deterioration and razing of urban heritage. Preservation of heritage can provide a city with a competitive edge, reinforcing a unique identity that can generate significant economic returns. 

Often, cities struggle to find a balance between protection of urban heritage, economic development, functionality, and livability of a city. In 2011, the UNESCO General Conference adopted the Historic Urban Landscape approach (HUL) for the management of historic cities to address this problem. The HUL protocol recognizes that cities, like natural landscapes, are never in stasis. Cities grow, sometimes shrink, and change and evolve in multiple ways. The HUL approach shifts emphasis from monumental architecture to the conservation of urban values that are defined by a city’s tangible and intangible qualities. The HUL has the potential to help cities foster a transition from a “heritage versus development” mentality to an environment in which “heritage and development are compatible” and culture is the driver of sustainable development.

In 2011, UNESCO defined the holistic approach as, 

“the historic urban landscape is the urban area understood as the result of a historic layering of cultural and natural values and attributes, extending beyond the notion of ‘historic centre’ or ‘ensemble’ to include the broader urban context and its geographical setting. This wider context includes notably the site’s topography, geomorphology, hydrology and natural features, its built environment, both historic and contemporary, its infrastructures above and below ground, its open spaces and gardens, its land use patterns and spatial organization, perceptions and visual relationships, as well as all other elements of the urban structure. It also includes social and cultural practices and values, economic processes and the intangible dimensions of heritage as related to diversity and identity.”

There are six critical steps to implement the HUL: 

The Six Foundational Steps for the Historic Urban Landscape Approach (Source: PlaceEconomics).

Once the local context is established, the HUL recommends the development of a robust and dynamic toolkit that offers a range of interdisciplinary tools. These are organized into four categories, each of which represent one aspect of the development process: Civic Engagement, Knowledge & Planning, Regulatory Systems, and Financial Tools.

  • Civic Engagement Tools involve a diverse cross-section of stakeholders, and empower them to identify key values in their urban areas, develop visions that reflect their diversity, set goals, and agree on actions to safeguard their heritage and promote sustainable development. These tools, which constitute an integral part of urban governance dynamics, should facilitate intercultural dialogue by learning from communities about their histories, traditions, values, needs, and aspirations, and by facilitating mediation and negotiation between groups with conflicting interests. Examples include: a city community engagement office, community programs, and community-led surveys.
  • Knowledge & Planning Tools protect the integrity and authenticity of the attributes of urban environments. They also allow for the recognition of cultural significance and diversity, and provide for the monitoring and management of change to improve the quality of life and of urban space. These tools would include the documentation and mapping of cultural and natural characteristics. Historic, social, and environmental impact assessments should be used to support and facilitate decision-making processes within a framework of sustainable development. Examples include: technical assistance, systematic surveying, and building maintenance teams.
  • Regulatory Systems Tools reflect local conditions and may include legislative and regulatory measures aimed at the preservation and management of tangible and intangible attributes of the urban environment, including their social, environmental, and cultural values. Traditional and customary systems should be recognized and reinforced as necessary. Examples include: building/zoning code flexibility, regulatory waivers, conditional use permits, and Transferable Development Rights (TDRs).
  • Financial Tools aim to build capacities and support innovative, income-generating development, rooted in tradition. In addition to government and nonprofit funds, financial tools should be effectively employed to foster private investment at the local level. Micro-credit and other flexible financing to support local enterprise, as well as a variety of models of partnerships, are also central to making the historic urban landscape approach financially sustainable. Examples include: grants, loans, loan guarantees, fee-waivers, and tax abatement. It should be noted that fee-waivers need to be considered in context with statutory or other restrictions for said fees, and may require reimbursement from other funds.

The four categories of tools in the HUL approach combined create a holistic toolkit for city building (Source: https://gohulsite.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/wirey5prpznidqx.pdf)

When tools from each category are combined, a holistic toolkit for city building is formed. Ideally, for the HUL approach to succeed, policies and actions must be adapted for local application and be implemented simultaneously, as they are interdependent.

Using the Approach

For several years, PlaceEconomics, and our sister company, Heritage Strategies International, have been using the HUL approach to frame our policy and incentive recommendations in the U.S. and abroad. Our clients often look to us to help craft public policies that incentivize historic preservation. While the four categories of tools are great, in our work we developed another category called “Direct Action” for tools that do not easily fit within the HUL framework.

  • Direct Action Tools aim at critical interventions or activities of public value for which the municipality is the direct actor. Wherever possible, direct action tools should be leveraged to build partnerships and lasting networks for greater, continued impact. These tools should constitute a wise use of public dollars and demonstrate best practices to the private sector. Examples include: property purchase, public redevelopment, and the creation of a revolving fund.

We hear frustration from preservationists about how elected officials and developers try to sidestep preservation regulations, and from property owners who feel the zoning rules are hurting their property values. The HUL mentality of “a city is never in stasis” is vital as a foundation. Managing change through the HUL approach means you can’t save everything, but you are also not starting with a clean slate.

Join us Wednesday, December 16th at 1PM to learn more. The session will feature pre-recorded presentations from international experts on the Historic Urban Landscape approach, describing the development, use, and implementation of the protocol in cities around the world. PlaceEconomics will detail how the HUL approach could be successful in the U.S., and will share examples of our policy recommendations that incorporate this international protocol.

About the Panelists

Donovan Rypkema, Principal, PlaceEconomics/Heritage Strategies International

Donovan Rypkema is Principal of PlaceEconomics and President of Heritage Strategies International. Both firms work at the nexus of economics and historic preservation. He has worked in 49 states and 45 countries. Rypkema received the Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the nation’s highest preservation honor. He is the author of The Economics of Historic Preservation and is a Lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate program in historic preservation.

Briana Grosicki, Associate Principal, PlaceEconomics/Heritage Strategies International

Briana Grosicki is Associate Principal at PlaceEconomics and Vice-President of Heritage Strategies International. Her work supports the firm's Main Street studies, economic impact studies, and incentives initiatives. Grosicki is active in preservation on a national stage as the Chairwoman of Preservation Action and on the Board of Directors for the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions. Grosicki received a self-designed B.S. in the Study of the Built Environment from the College of William and Mary and an M.S. in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania.

Juliana Ferero, Programme Specialist, UNESCO — France

Juliana Ferero is a Programme Specialist for UNESCO and an anthropologist with a PhD in Urban Planning and an M.A. in Social Anthropology. She has over 13 years of experience in the fields of intangible cultural heritage research: safeguarding, management and monitoring, sustainable development projects, public-policy design and capacity building. She has conducted research on methodologies for the improvement of quality of life and well-being and creating resilient, sustainable development processes through cultural heritage.

Hasti Tarekat Dipowijoyo, HERITAGE Hands-On — The Netherlands

Hasti Tarekat Dipowijoyo owns Heritage Hands-On, specializing in capacity building of the cultural heritage movement. Currently, she is working on a doctoral degree at the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, University of Leiden, the Netherlands. She has been working in cultural heritage in Indonesia since 1990’s as the Secretary of the Bandung Heritage Society, the Executive Director of Sumatra Heritage Trust, and the Coordinator of Pan-Sumatra Network for Heritage Conservation.

Punto Wijayanto, University of Trisakti — Indonesia

Punto Wijayanto is a lecturer at the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Planning, University of Trisakti in Jakarta. In addition to his academic work, he is active as a member of the board of directors of the Indonesian Heritage Trust (BPPI), and appointed as a member of Jakarta’s heritage committee team. Since 2012, he has served as a resource person for the heritage city program (P3KP) organized by the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing. His interests are the fields of heritage-city management and planning.

Published: 11-21-20