The state of the art of the research

Heritage valuation and value analysis are key factors in cultural heritage management in the 21st century, impacting to a large extent on particular heritage related endeavours and the forms of heritage maintenance. They determine why specific cultural goods are designated as cultural heritage (e.g. listed in the monument register) but also may be useful in considering the impact assessment of particular heritage projects or assessment of the cumulative effect of several undertaken heritage protection and restoration measures.

This statement applies to all categories of cultural heritage, ranging from intangible to tangible, from movable to immovable; from single to serial nominations, and from individual, isolated monuments to cultural landscapes. Each category has its own set of particular attributes and values of cultural significance requiring protection.

Traditional model of cultural heritage management

In the traditional model of cultural heritage management, cultural heritage was perceived in isolation, as an “object of cult” (Riegl,1903). Cultural heritage was not embedded in its cultural, ecological, social, economic contexts. As a consequence, also the valuation and value analysis of cultural heritage was to a limited extent focused only slightly on the external (i.e. non cultural) values and factors. In fact, what is now called cultural heritage management, has for long been primarily about the conservation or restoration of monuments, even if applied to large scale properties such as urban ensembles (Jokilehto, 1998; Fairclough, 2008; Whitehand, 2010).

In addition this object-based approach was more focused on the conservation of the tangible dimension of cultural heritage assets, e.g. building material, facades and structures and building ensembles. As such it mainly regarded the protection of the remains left to represent significance, and as such it helped to maintain many historic buildings, groups of buildings and sites.
Such approach however made it difficult to attribute value to the intangible, the larger than individual property scale or the process or production of meanings linked with heritage, e.g. urban concepts, structures, evolutionary processes, or local traditions and practices (Veldpaus et al, 2013). In addition, the traditional approach was about what to keep, to protect, so it almost automatically positioned itself as opposite development. Such a model, however, does no longer correspond to contemporary reality. It even contributed to patterns of musealisation (Albert, 2009), gentrification (Smith, 1998) and domestic migration (Marks, 1996), for depriving those properties and their context from development. Such a model does not have the utility value any more - it is not enough for effective protection, conservation and sustainable use of cultural heritage. In the current circumstances it is essential to perceive the environment as an integrated whole and analyzed in relation to its cultural, ecological, social and economic contexts. Its valuation should comprise a broad array of well-defined cultural values but also economic – use and non-use values (such as existence, option and bequest value) (Hutter, Rizzo 1997; Avrami, Mason 2000; Navrud, Ready, 2002; Cuccia, Signorello 2002; Snowball 2008; Murzyn-Kupisz 2010, 2012).

Modern model of cultural heritage management

The contemporary model of cultural heritage management is progressing towards a more holistic approach which also includes notions such as the intangible, setting and context, and urban and sustainable development and accompanied by a greater consideration of the social and economic functions of heritage, including historic cities (Murzyn-Kupisz, Działek, 2013). This approach is known as a landscape-based approach (Jokilehto 2008; Mason, 2008; Veldpaus, 2011; Bandarin & Van Oers, 2012). One of the main aims of such a landscape-based approach is seeing conservation as reducing the adverse impacts of socio-economic development on what is considered of significance, by integrating urban development and heritage management (Getty, 2010; UNESCO, 2011; Bandarin & Van Oers, 2012).

Theory on such a landscape-based approach is to be found more prominent ever since the nineties, and are reflected in works such as Hayden, 1995; Jokilehto, 1998; Choay, 2001; Hayden, 2002; Torre, 2003; Turnpenny, 2004; Gonçalves, 2007; Rodwell, 2007; Van Oers R, 2007; Fairclough, et al., 2008; Bloemers et al., 2010; Jokilehto, 2010; Van Oers, 2010; Stubbs & Makas, 2011; Bandarin & Van Oers, 2012; Janssen et al.; 2012 and Pendlebury, 2012. The same literature also indicates the landscape-based approach as the expected future path. The use of a long-term and holistic planning process, such as a landscape-based approach, is one of the key principles for sustainable development (Landorf, 2009).

Literature indicates a landscape-based approach is the future trend as well as a key indicator for sustainable development; however its implementation remains a challenge for the management practices of historic cities. “Conflicts between heritage needs and development needs” is ranked as being the issue of greatest concern among practitioners, both from the field of conservation and urban management (Getty, 2010).

Heritage is often experienced as an barrier to the development of cities and local communities (Purchla 2005). On the one hand changes are required to allow those cities to evolve and develop, on the other little can be changed in these urban areas designated as heritage properties (Fairclough, 2008:299, Pendlebury, 2009; Bandarin & Van Oers, 2012). On the other hand, development pressures and management deficits are commonly found factors affecting cultural heritage (ICOMOS, 2005; Pereira Roders, 2010). Both from urban development and conservation perspective there is an urgent need to develop tools and instruments to stimulate integrating those fields and implementing a landscape-based approach on a national and local level (e.g. Turnpenny, 2004; EC, 2009; Van Oers, 2010; URBACT, 2011; UNESCO, 2011; Araoz, 2011).

From object to cultural significance

The landscape-based approach gives more prominence to the cultural significance conveyed by cultural heritage properties, than to the properties themselves. Meaning that, the property might be designated cultural heritage as a whole, but not every part of it embodies equal cultural significance. Such approach is expected to provide more opportunities for development to occur on or including cultural heritage properties and their context, by benefiting with this variation in cultural significance e.g. in protected urban areas, by allowing more transformation on the less significant areas and vice versa.

The Burra Charter has given a step forward when recognizing that cultural significance was not limited to the physical fabric of a building or site but also extended to its setting, the way it was used, its contents and the knowledge that pertained to it. Accordingly, “cultural significance is embodied in the place itself, its fabric, setting, use, associations, meanings, records, related places and related objects” (ICOMOS Australia, 1999). There are two major notions defining cultural significance, which require particular explanation. Cultural values is the notion often use to term the reasons for regarding cultural heritage as important (Pereira Roders and Hudson, 2011). Attributes are the ‘qualities and characteristics seen in things, in particular the positive characteristics (actual and potential)’ (Mason, 2002: 5) embodying the cultural values (UNESCO, 2011).

Values of Cultural Heritage

The importance of the notion cultural values has been increasing in cultural heritage and conservation discourses, particularly over the last two decades. Hall (1997) argued that people conveys meaning to “our use of things, and what we say, think and feel about them—how we represent them”. De la Torre and Mason (2002: 3) elaborated further and stated that “no society makes an effort to conserve what it does not value”.
Already in 1996, Kerr recalled the need to understand the different cultural values that make cultural heritage properties so special to justify being designated, before defining the main aims, methods and tools to apply when targeting the protection of cultural heritage properties. It has been recognized that different groups and individuals would value the same cultural heritage property in different ways, influenced by the cultural, intellectual, historical and psychological frames of reference held by the specific groups of stakeholders (Darvill, 1995).

Cultural values are no longer perceived as fixed and intrinsic, an objective significance inherent to the cultural heritage properties. Cultural values are now also extrinsic and subjective, dependent on the meanings constructed by those who used or contemplated them (Hodder, 2000: 88–9; Howard 2003). Cultural values can even be conveyed in intangible cultural heritage properties such as “beliefs, knowledge and traditions” (CoE, 2005). Thus, going beyond the need of an “object of cult”.

Cultural values can and often also do change in time (ICOMOS Australia, 1999) and among the varied individuals  and/or groups of stakeholders (Howard 2003; Murzyn-Kupisz 2012). This variation can contribute to conflict among the stakeholders, and  values (Ashworth, 1998). Although, it does not mean that the cultural heritage properties risk to no longer convey those cultural values but rather that specialists valuing heritage have to change or at least broaden their focus and priorities. 

The so-called non-traditional cultural values such as the economic, social and political (in cultural economics also referred to as economic use and non-use values) have always existed since the beginning of our civilization. What changes is the importance (relative weight) given to them. As follows, when looking at the significance assessment results some non-traditional cultural values (to some extent overlapping with economic values) appear to be excluded; but in practice, the assessors chose not to perform the respective surveys and consequently have these cultural values weighted as null. It does not mean that the assessed cultural heritage properties had no significance concerning those particular cultural values. Different ranges of cultural values have been developed and published over the past 20 years (Labadi, 2007). Its implementation remains quite loyal to the cultural values recognized at UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention (1972, 2008). These are respectively; the historic, aesthetical/artistic, scientific and social values.

A number of field experts have explored particular values and sets of values. Mason (2002) states that traditional practices of assessing cultural significance rely heavily on “historical, art historical, and archaeological notions held by professionals, and they are applied basically through unidisciplinary means”. They have drawn attention to the neglect of economic values, “a strong force shaping heritage and conservation”. This neglect also often means that if economic values are considered they are understood only as direct use values (and equated with direct economic gains from a given heritage property or project) without taking into account the diversity of non-use economic values people (individuals, social groups, local residents, nations, etc.) may attribute to heritage (Mason 1999; Klamer, Zuidhof 1999; Navrud, Ready 2002; Snowball 2008). Riganti and Nijkamp (2005) include the political values when defining cultural heritage as “a set of recognized assets that reflect the historical, socioeconomic, political, scientific, artistic or educational importance of a good that has been created as a visible landmark by our ancestors”. The social values of heritage such as its potential to enhance and built social capital should also be taken into account (Murzyn-Kupisz, Działek, 2013).

As long ago as 1975 contributors at the Congress on the European Architectural Heritage, recognized within the Declaration of Amsterdam Council the need for an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to cultural heritage, including taking into account the ecological values of cultural heritage properties. Accordingly, “the conservation of ancient buildings helps to economise resources and combat waste, one of the major preoccupations of present-day society”. This anticipates later developments in thinking about sustainability in the context of cultural heritage. Age/historical values have long been defined by one of the pioneers in cultural significance and respective cultural values. Alois Riegl [1990 (1903)] defined two groups of cultural values: the memorial values; age, historical and intended memorial values; and the present-day values: use, art, newness and relative art values.

Values of Cultural Heritage and attributes

In contrast to the categories of values, much less categories of attributes are found defined and discussed within the academia. Very little research was found reflecting on the relation between attributes and cultural values or on its evolution in time (ICOMOS, 1994; Lemmens et al, 2004; Van Balen, 2008; Silva and Pereira Roders, 2012).

UNESCO defines cultural heritage in three typologies: monuments, groups of monuments, and sites (UNESCO, 1972). Even though, such definition includes varied examples of attributes e.g. architectural works, it cannot be considered to include all possible typologies of attributes possible to include in nominations. The same incompleteness is identified at list of the attributes, already possible to subdivide in: tangible and intangible attributes. The tangible attributes regard the legacy of physical artifacts such as “form and design; materials and substance and other internal factors”. Instead, the intangible attributes regard non-physical aspects related to the cultural heritage properties, such as “use and function; traditions, techniques and management systems; location and setting; language, and other forms of intangible heritage; spirit and feeling; and other external factors” (UNESCO,2011; Pereira Roders, 2013).

Values of Cultural Heritage and assessments

The Burra Charter and its later offshoots emphasise the importance of understanding a cultural heritage property before carrying out work on it so that its cultural significance can be protected as far as possible in any conservation work. The development of such an understanding requires investigation into the cultural heritage properties on several dimensions.

The scale and complexity of such an investigation normally depends upon how much information is already in the public domain and upon the likely importance and complexity of the cultural heritage property. For the more complex or important property it may be necessary to engage the services of specialist consultants to undertake the necessary investigations.

Cultural heritage assessments can be seen as a development of a long tradition of scholarly evaluation and they may take many forms and serve a variety of purposes. Some are a part of the process used to identify and designate particular properties for legal protection. For example, in England there have been two major national surveys of historic buildings and structures using a standardized methodology and assessment criteria in order to produce a uniform list for statutory protection (Robertson, 1993). There have been parallel developments in other European countries such as France (Chatenet, 1995) and Germany (Wulf, 1997). Some national surveys such as the work of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England have been less focused on specific types of statutory designation (Sargent, 2001) whilst others such as Pevsner’s guides – (Architectural Guides and Buildings Books Trust - to the buildings of the British Isles) – were intended to bring an awareness of architecturally important buildings to the general public (Pevsner, 2010). Whilst cultural heritage assessments have been most commonly developed with respect to material artefacts, particularly buildings and archaeological sites, they can also be used for intangible heritage. Japan, for example, designates individuals or groups of people with particular skills in arts or crafts as “Preservers of Important Intangible Cultural Properties” or, more colloquially, “Living National Treasures” under the 1950 Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties.

Cultural heritage assessments involve both the description of properties and an evaluation of their cultural significance in terms of values as discussed in the previous section. Investigation of a cultural heritage asset may require the use of a number of techniques depending upon the nature of the asset and the depth of analysis needed for the purpose of the assessment. For a comprehensive assessment an accurate recording of the asset is often required. For standing structures this may involve the use of traditional measured surveys but these might be augmented by photogrammetry or 3D laser scanning, particularly where parts of the asset are not easily accessible to the tape measure. Measured drawings should be accompanied by detailed observations and notes together with an adequate photographic record. The record provided by such surveys forms the base line against which future proposals for change can be assessed in terms of their impact upon cultural significance. A major survey can be time-consuming and costly so it is important to specify an appropriate level of survey to the importance and complexity of the cultural heritage asset being considered (Bryan et al 2009). In many cases there may also be documentary material including previous surveys or interpretations and archives relating to stages in the asset’s history.  These may also provide important evidence that can be used in the assessment.

Once the property has been adequately described and recorded the assessment enters the process of evaluation. This involves making judgements about the cultural significance of the property against criteria developed from an appropriate set of cultural values, typically social, economic, political, historic, aesthetical, scientific, age and ecological values (Pereira Roders, 2007). Where the cultural heritage assessment is being used as part of a selection process to designate particular property as worthy of statutory protection an exact set of criteria may be developed as a threshold for inclusion. Where selection is not involved, the appraisal may be more discursive and scholarly. The process often involves an attempt to distinguish between features of the property that are of major importance and hence should be passed intact to future generations and those that are of lesser importance and hence can be the subject of negotiation in the change management process.

Community participation is an important part of the cultural heritage assessment process.  Stakeholders in the property have a legitimate right to involvement and this can take a variety of forms such as workshops, focus groups and surveys.  Where individuals or groups are found to hold conflicting values over an property a resolution process may have to be brought into play.

It should be emphasised that cultural heritage assessments are independent from any specific proposal for change to a cultural heritage property.  In some cases they may lead to a set of general policies for the management of a property as in the conservation plan (Clark 1999, Kerr 2000). However, specific development proposals should be subject to a cultural heritage impact assessment.

Values of Cultural Heritage and impact assessments

Environmental impact assessments (EIA) and heritage impact assessments (HIA) tools do seem to include cultural heritage in their assessment processes. However, the greatest criticism is, while cultural significance and sustainability are multi-dimensional, current EIA tools are mostly single-dimensional (Ding, 2008). Cultural heritage is generally the weakest component in EIA studies (Bond et al., 2004; Fleming, 2008). There is a lack of objectivity and completeness in HIA, even when part of an EIA (Teller & Bond, 2002). EIA is also considered to neglect the interaction between attributes and “cumulative impacts and incremental changes” (ICOMOS, 2011). Thus, there is an unanimous plea for a more global and objective assessment approach to assist monitoring cultural heritage properties, directly linked to their cultural significance.

Proposals for change in the historic environment will have an impact upon the cultural significance of that environment.  Once the significance of the historic environment has been researched and understood the next stage is to assess the impact of the proposed changes.  This is not necessarily a complicated task. As Clark (2001, p22) observes, “Impact analysis is not a particularly special, unusual or complex process; it is simply a codification of the basic analysis undertaken by any competent conservation adviser.”

When a statutory authority makes a decision on whether or not to allow development proposals for work on a cultural heritage property to take place it is making an impact assessment. The proposals are evaluated in terms of potential damage or benefits they may make to the significance of the property; this analysis may also include a consideration of a wider set of social, environmental or economic benefits. In some cases alternative proposals may be compared to determine which has the least impact on cultural significance.  For small scale interventions this process is often informal and based on the professional judgement of the individuals concerned.    For larger scale interventions a more formal method of analysis may be adopted.

Cultural heritage impact assessments form part of the wider group of analytic approaches for evaluating the impacts of development that include Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA): all these techniques adopt the same broad methodological approach. EIA in particular, is a long established approach that has been widely adopted as part of the land use planning system in many countries (Morris and Therivel 2008, Glasson et al 2005).

European states are required to adopt impact analysis in their land use planning systems by the Directives on Environmental Assessment (Directive 85/337/EEC, amended by Directive 97/11/EC) and the Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Directive 2001/42/EC). EIA is mandatory for certain types of development such as major transport infrastructure projects and may be required for a broader range of developments depending on the enactment in a particular state.

A positive impact, for example, might be work that gave the general public better access and understanding of a site. A negative impact might be work that resulted in the loss of important historic features. Impacts can also be direct or indirect. Direct impacts are those that have an immediate effect on the site such as loss or additions to the historic fabric. Indirect impacts are those that may not result in immediate change to the physical fabric but may have wider implications (e.g. increase in visitor numbers or changes to the wider visual setting of the site). Where there are alternative proposals for the site these can be evaluated to determine their relative impacts. In EIA the outcome of the process of evaluating likely impacts may be formally presented as an environmental impact statement (EIS).

Even though, there might be cases where cultural heritage assessments and cultural heritage impact assessments seem similar, it is important that each development project proposal has its impact assessed independently for the affected cultural heritage properties. The relative importance of development proposals to the cultural significance of a property may vary considerably from case to case and generalising impact assessment results could lead decision-makers into erroneous conclusions and consequently, irreversibly compromise the cultural heritage assets in question.

In some circumstances the wider importance of the development proposals that have negative impacts may be deemed to outweigh the cultural significance of the property. For example, the addition of the second runway to Manchester Airport in the UK resulted in the demolition of a number of cultural heritage properties (Griggs et al 1998, Butcher 2010). Such decisions are controversial and may result in major objections from communities and amenity groups.  In other circumstances the negative impacts on the cultural significance of the site may considerably outweigh the potential benefits of a development proposal and the development is therefore terminated.

In most cases there is likely to be a process of mitigation i.e. attempting to reduce negative impacts and increase beneficial impacts.  Mitigation may take many forms. Where some loss of cultural heritage assets is inevitable there may be a requirement to compile detailed records before the development takes place; this is sometimes referred to as preservation by record.  Although it is usually desirable from a conservation perspective to retain a cultural heritage property in its original use and location where possible, it is often recognized that this may no longer be feasible: modifications to the built environment may be required to allow new uses to be found. Mitigation has an important role in feedback into the design of proposals. It is often possible through careful design to minimize negative impact through matters such as the careful choice of materials, avoidance of existing fabric of major cultural significance, and location of additional structures and services.  General conservation principles that can be used to guide sensitive design in the context of the historic environment are well-established and widely available (English Heritage, 2008).