The Image of Historic Urban Landscapes: Representation Codes

The Image of Historic Urban Landscapes: Representation Codes

Giuseppe Amoruso (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8379-2.ch019
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Abstract

According to the UNESCO 2011 - Recommendations on the Historic Urban Landscapes, the historic urban landscape (HUL) is the urban area understood as the result of a historic layering of cultural and natural values and attributes, extending the “historic center” concept to include the broader urban context and its geographical setting. Representation of historical environments, documenting their typological components as a pattern book (landscape, architecture, textures, materials, and color), is devised to encourage a strategy of valorization. Explanation of landscapes' values through its benchmarking, consists of several mapping actions and adoption of tools: 3D modelling, environmental mapping, places representation. The chapter presents a strategic process based on local character assessment through a place-visualizing toolkit from documentation and color representation to design coding: visualization of landscape' values and multimedia survey pipelines implementing processes, methods and tools for the narration of tangible values and intangible assets.
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Background

On 10 November 2011 UNESCO’s General Conference adopted the new Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape by acclamation, the first such instrument on the historic environment issued by UNESCO in 35 years. The Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape will not replace existing doctrines or conservation approaches; rather, it is an additional tool to integrate policies and practices of conservation of the built environment into the wider goals of urban development in respect of the inherited values and traditions of different cultural contexts. This tool, is a “soft-law” to be implemented by Member States on a voluntary basis.

In order to facilitate implementation, the UNESCO General Conference recommended that Member States take the appropriate steps to:

  • Adapt this new instrument to their specific contexts;

  • Disseminate it widely across their national territories;

  • Facilitate implementation through formulation and adoption of supporting policies; and to

  • Monitor its impact on the conservation and management of historic cities.

It further recommended that Member States and relevant local authorities identify within their specific contexts the critical steps to implement the Historic Urban Landscape approach, which may include the following:

  • To undertake comprehensive surveys and mapping of the city’s natural, cultural and human resources;

  • To reach consensus using participatory planning and stakeholder consultations on what values to protect for transmission to future generations and to determine the attributes that carry these values;

  • To assess vulnerability of these attributes to socio-economic stresses and impacts of climate change;

  • To integrate urban heritage values and their vulnerability status into a wider framework of city development, which shall provide indications of areas of heritage sensitivity that require careful attention to planning, design and implementation of development projects;

  • To prioritize actions for conservation and development;

  • To establish the appropriate partnerships and local management frameworks for each of the identified projects for conservation and development, as well as to develop mechanisms for the coordination of the various activities between different actors, both public and private.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Landscape Approach: (From the International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN, and the World Wildlife Fund – WWF) The landscape approach is a framework for making landscape-level conservation decisions. The landscape approach helps to reach decisions about the advisability of particular interventions (such as a new road or plantation), and to facilitate the planning, negotiation and implementation of activities across a whole landscape.

Landscape Units: Landscape means an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors.

Historic Area/City: (From the 1976 AU76: The in-text citation "From the 1976" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. Unesco Recommendation) “Historic and architectural (including vernacular) areas” shall be taken to mean any groups of buildings, structures and open spaces including archaeological and paleontological sites, constituting human settlements in an urban or rural environment, the cohesion and value of which, from the archaeological, architectural, prehistoric, historic, aesthetic or sociocultural point of view are recognized. Among these “areas”, which are very varied in nature, it is possible to distinguish the following “in particular: prehistoric sites, historic towns, old urban quarters, villages and hamlets as well as homogeneous monumental groups, it being understood that the latter should as a rule be carefully preserved unchanged.

Imageability: The figuration of a place that is the quality which confers to a physical object, a high probability of evoking in each observer a vigorous image.

Urban Heritage: (from European Union research report Nº 16 (2004), Sustainable development of Urban historical areas through and active Integration within Towns – SUIT) Urban heritage comprises three main categories: monumental heritage of exceptional cultural value; non-exceptional heritage elements but present in a coherent way with a relative abundance; new urban elements to be considered (for instance): the urban built form; the open space: streets, public open spaces; urban infrastructures: material networks and equipments.

Historic Urban Landscape: (From the 2011 AU77: The in-text citation "From the 2011" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. Unesco Recommendation, paragraph 8-9) The historic urban landscape (HUL) is the urban area understood as the result of a historic layering of cultural and natural values and attributes, extending the “historic center” concept 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.

Historic Urban Area: (From the ICOMOS Washington Charter) Historic urban areas, large and small, include cities, towns and historic centers or quarters, together with their natural and man-made environments. Beyond their role as historical documents, these areas embody the values of traditional urban cultures.

Urban Conservation: Urban conservation is not limited to the preservation of single buildings. It views architecture as but one element of the overall urban setting, making it a complex and multifaceted discipline. By definition, then, urban conservation lies at the very heart of urban planning.

Building Code: The Color Plan guidelines and recommendations is composed by three chapters: the “Color palette”, the “Code of architecture, materials and colors”, and the “Repository of Façade Decoration, Techniques and Materials”. The “Palette” includes a selection of colors and nuances considered suitable for plaster surfaces as well as iron and wooden elements. The “Code of architecture, materials, and colors” refers to the main homogeneous categories of morphological, compositional, and technological elements, as well as to plants and fittings. The “Repository of façade decoration, techniques, and materials” instead offers a range of solutions often recurring in the historical center, all of them based on the lexicon of traditional architecture.

Color Plan: An Architecture, Material, and Color design Code for the historical center, is an urbanistic tool whose prescriptions act as fixed guidelines for all the interventions carried out in the area covered by the Plan itself, i.e. the historical center. The Plan makes use of the following methods of urban survey in order to draw a critical cognitive map: photogrammetry and chromatic survey of urban façades; survey of the state of preservation and deterioration of urban façades.

Built Environment: The built environment refers to human-made (versus natural) resources and infrastructure designed to support human activity, such as buildings, roads, parks, and other amenities.

Place-Making: A certain type of creation of characteristic places, particularly valuable and focusing key functions of a public space, primarily for local communities.

Setting: (From the ICOMOS Xi’an Declaration) The setting of a heritage structure, site or area is defined as the immediate and extended environment that is part of, or contributes to, its significance and distinctive character.

Pattern Book: Design-and-picture books, which feature images, models and drawings of buildings, spaces and lexicon of the urban environment.

Color Book: Design-and-picture books, which feature images, characterization and description of chromatic features of single parts of façades: finishing, timber works, iron works, roof materials. Gives specific reference to their composition, to the technology and materials that must be used, up to the color palette for the finish of all surfaces.

Transect: The urban-to-rural transect is an urban planning model created by New Urbanist Andrés Duany. The transect defines a series of zones that transition from sparse rural farmhouses to the dense urban core.

Cultural Significance: (From the ICOMOS Australia Burra Charter) Cultural significance means aesthetic, historic, scientific, social or spiritual value for past, present or future generations. Cultural significance is embodied in the place itself, its fabric, setting, use, associations, meanings, records, related places and related objects. Places may have a range of values for different individuals or groups.

Tangible/Intangible Culture: They are the two counterparts of cultural heritage asset which is tangible or touchable, whereas intangible culture includes song, music, drama, skills, cuisine, annual festivals, crafts, and the other parts of culture that can be recorded but cannot be touched and interacted with, without a vehicle for the culture.

Wayfinding: The orientation that allows to move into a place, distinguishing and naming its parts.

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