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29 September - 4 October 2008

Urban Cultural Landscapes & the Spirit of Place

ICOMOS, 16th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium
Québec City, Québec, Canada

Valued villages, towns and cities are legible, multi-sensory vessels for spirit of place that combine tangible and intangible heritage. The cultural landscape of urban areas comprises about half of the space and contributes significantly to the character of the place. Since 2005, intensive discussions grappling with the meaning, character and values residing in the historic urban landscape (HUL) have resulted in the Vienna Memorandum and in resolutions from international meetings. The public and private urban cultural landscape expresses traditions and values and forms a record of ongoing interactions between people and place. These interactions and the values they embody yield both tangible and intangible heritage, residing in the HUL. When adequately documented as an integrated matrix of cultural landscape values, the tangible expressions of place and people and the intangible values residing in those places can be understood, preserved and managed as the unique spirit of place. This paper, presented by Patricia M. O’Donnell at the ICOMOS 16th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium in Québec, Canada, discusses the cultural landscape as a vessel of spirit of place, using examples of urban landscape spirit and values and suggests analysis and preservation tools that apply to the HUL. The overriding point is that as heritage professionals we must clearly identify, analyze and be able to present the heritage values of a place so that managing for them is feasible and defensible.

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