Identity of Place

Identity and Memory

Visibility and Reputation

Cultural Landscape and Aesthetics

Heritage-led Regeneration and Adaptive Re-use

This theme emphasises the importance of cultural heritage in defining and constructing identity and belonging. 

The identity of place can be accessed by exploring the interaction between identity and memory and the visibility and reputation of the heritage today. 

The use of space is also central in the identity of place, both in the context of heritage-led regeneration and adaptive reuse and in the intervention’s design and relation with the surrounding cultural landscape.

The Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) is an approach defined in the UNESCO Vienna Memorandum to manage the relationships between conservation and development. Instead of limiting the interventions to the buildings, it considers the concept of place as well as their impact on the identity and social cohesion. HUL “provides quality, sense and meaning to the urbanization processes”.

Identity of Place also tallies with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically with regards to making “… cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

Any heritage intervention must be seen in context of its wider impact. The present is determined by the past, and impacts on the future. Identity of place is largely about discourses surrounding the cultural heritage in terms of historic narratives, but also contemporary discourses defining the reputation of a place.

Special consideration must be given to the involvement of stakeholders and communities and their long-term vision for the space.

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Marcus Garvey (1887-1940)

Jamaican black nationalist leader

“You start with understanding the place, understanding the threats to the place, and then put in place policies to safeguard, strengthen and enhance that sense of place, and the qualities and values that have been identified… so that conservation plan processes encompass intangible as tangible.”

Charles Duggan


Temple Bar is an area in Dublin which long-time heritage dating back to the Vikings was threatened to be demolished in the 1980s due to its decay. After a successful lobby from a network of organisations in the 1990s, its transformation in a cultural quarter became an example of culture-led urban regeneration for its respectfully maintained heritage and a mixed-use urban design approach between economic, cultural, and social uses of buildings and public realm.

In the project Sea Tamagotchi: Foclóir Farraige of Galway (Ireland), fishermen and folklorists shared their knowledge, so they were able to bring to life the old vocabulary, stories and place names of the Irish language associated with the Irish coast of the Atlantic. This project, which enhanced the identity of place, was fostered by the European Capitals of Culture programme, which brought together urban and rural people around heritage.

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