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Heritage building preservation vs sustainability? Conflict isn’t inevitable

Sara Wilkinson and Hilde Remøy write in The Conversation (29.11.17) about the seemingly inevitable conflict between heritage protection principles and sustainability goals in urban planning, citing examples of Brisbane buildings and architecture styles.

‘Contemporary preservation philosophy in Western cultures has been around for 140 years, and sustainable development for 30. Are the principles compatible or in conflict?

‘Heritage building does not have an unequivocal definition. It has several components, which co-exist to varying degrees. These include: cultural and historic; intrinsic and in use values; symbolic; and the relationship between the building and location.

‘A building may have little heritage value as a property but have value because a momentous event transpired there. Heritage buildings fulfil important demands for cultural experiences and leisure, and create benefits for tourism. Heritage buildings also have other positive economic impacts, such as generating higher rental and occupancy levels.

‘… Heritage and sustainable development are intimately linked. Understanding heritage helps us better comprehend cultural and social systems. It is vital to understand the philosophical definitions of terms.

‘Preserving heritage and sustainable development are both important goals. Conflicts need to be identified, assessed, documented and managed to achieve an optimum balance.’

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