How intangible cultural heritage can make historic preservation and postindustrial regeneration more sustainable

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Since the 1980s, preservationists and urban designers have grappled with incorporating sustainability into the business of historic preservation. Vernacular construction practices and the creation of historic city centers are influenced by the intangible cultural heritage of places, which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, and skills transmitted from one generation to the next that provide people with a sense of identity and continuity. In the modern era, the Industrial Revolution determined urban form, primarily through intangible industrial heritage that is, the transmission of traditional craftsmanship and skills relevant to the understanding of past industrial production processes. This paper presents ways in which historic preservation can respond to the challenges of achieving sustainability at both the micro and macro levels through the utilization of a place’s most dynamic attribute — its intangible cultural heritage. This paper presents two case studies: (1) the design/build project at the Fort Pulaski National Monument in Georgia, in which students from the University of Illinois and Savannah Technical College collaborated with the United States National Park Service to design a volunteeraccommodations complex that utilized intangible building techniques in new and innovative ways, and (2) the regeneration of the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham, England, where new artisan companies are working within the historic industrial urban district to establish a new innovation-based industrial economy. The study concludes that intangible and tangible heritage are related in the effort to sustainably preserve historic places.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Architectural and Planning Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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