The 3rd Heritage Forum of Central Europe. The City

Cities, as mirrors and hallmarks of our civilisation, some of the most spectacular human inventions, are phenomena which challenge full understanding. They are multilayered compositions of social interactions, economics, infrastructure and a growing number of inhabitants. As Jane Jacobs has said, they are a complex problem of interacting factors that are interrelated into an organic whole; at the same time they generate problems of climate change, crime and inequality and, on the other hand, originate creative solutions as well as hopes and dreams for many. Analysing the city brings together researchers and practitioners from various disciplines: urban planners, economists, sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, historians and art historians. It is this interdisciplinarity and innovation that the organisers hoped to attract to the debates and sessions of its 3rd Heritage Forum of Central Europe focused on “The City”.

The Heritage Forum of Central Europe is a biennial international conference where specialists from Central Europe, as well as researchers and experts on the region from all over the world, discuss the issues of cultural heritage. The Krakow conference is the voice of Central Europe on the philosophy, management, protection, economics, politics and social issues of cultural heritage. The Forum is organised under the auspices of the V4 Cultural Heritage Experts’ Working Group, comprising Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Gyula Forster National Centre for Cultural Heritage Management in Budapest, Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic and the International Cultural Centre in Krakow.

The programme of the conference included:

Programme of the conference.
Book of abstracts

The call for papers is closed as the Selection Committee has made the choice of the speakers.
Registration for participants without a paper is closed as well.

Events open to the public:
September 16, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Lectures: Central European city and its identity – Prof. Jacek Purchla (International Cultural Centre, Krakow University of Economics), Conservation 3.0 - Integrated conservation in the age of smart specialization strategies –prof. Christer Gustafsson (University of Uppsala),

September 18, 6 p.m.- 7 p.m.
Cities: Refashioning needed! On revitalisation in cities.

Cities in Central Europe have been undergoing a dynamic change. Competitions for the European Capital of Culture held in recent years In our region have shown the great potential that culture has for city development, while issues concerning revitalization of degraded areas through art have been an important element in application documents. The aim of our discussion on aspects of revitalization in cities is primarily to demonstrate various experiences in reviving degraded areas such as: post-industrial buildings or neglected city centres. The guest speakers of the discussion: from Žilina in Slovakia, Pilsen in the Czech Republic and Łódź in Poland, which in recent years has been realising a pilot revitalization project com-missioned by the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and Development, will have an opportunity to present the most crucial conclusions drawn from their hitherto undertaken actions. An exchange of experiences in this field is vital, since the new financial framework of the European Union for 2014-2020 contains resources for wide-ranging support for revitalisation pro-jects. What is also important is an observable growing activity of citizens engaged in efforts to improve their quality of life in cities. Urban activists are a catalyst for communication between the authorities and the citizens, and therefore take part in revitalization processes. Crucial in these processes are not only renovation and modernisation but also the needs of inhabitants, ensuring their further functioning in a given location and a better quality of life.

Panelists: Marek Adamov (Slovakia), Tamás Fejérdy (Hungary), Jarosław Ogrodowski (Poland), Petr Šimon (Czech Republic),
Moderated by: Agata Wąsowska-Pawlik (Polska)

A book with articles on papers presented during the conference will be published in 2017 (only positively reviewed articles will be included in the book).


Cities and their narratives

The city is a complicated historical subject and any narration about it cannot and is not simple, unequivocal, or single-threaded. There are no places without heritage. However, there are places without their own stories. As stories promote deep-rootedness and have the power to create communities, they are indispensable for all cities. This is why a number of them, in Central Europe especially after the transformation of 1989, search for city narratives and “newly found memory”.
First of all, contemporary cities search for their stories to define themselves and consolidate their communities. Often inspiration for new narratives comes from works of art and heritage (e.g. creating Museum of Innocence in Istanbul, echoing Orhan Pamuk’s novel or Barcelona sightseeing guide based on Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s novel The Shadow of the Wind). On the other hand, however, a city narrative plays a vital role in creating a brand for the city and is used in PR and promotion activities. The city is a physical product consisting of buildings, streets, inhabitants, visitors, as well as history, and customs, which needs a distinguishing mark, an evocative element thanks to which it can be properly remembered.
Participants of the session will address these issues by drawing upon case studies from Central Europe. They will attempt to answer the following questions: What stories do Central European cities seek? Who creates them and how? Whom do they serve? In what ways can the narratives be communicated? Who and for what purpose creates symbols? Notions of identity, time, mythology, borderland, layers, burden, and transformation will serve as keywords for the discussion.
The session comprises three themes: identity, utopia and memory.

Heritage in conflict

In the contemporary world activities which stimulate economic growth merely in quantitative terms are slowly being abandoned in favour of qualitative development. Similarly, approaches to heritage continue to change – today we speak of taking advantage of the past for the sake of the future. One might ask, then, if heritage and development are magical companions or rather are mutually exclusive. The session aims at presenting the challenges of balancing the economic interest of real estate investments, urban development and contemporary use of built heritage with preservation and conservation of cultural heritage. What are the approaches to this problem in Europe? How do heritage cities tackle the problem and what solutions are implemented? In this context managing dissonant heritage, i.e. the one left after the communist regimes in Central Europe or contested oriental past in the Balkan Peninsula, poses a particular problem that will be discussed during the session.

Who is the city for?

Already in 1968 Henri Lefebvre in his book Le Droit à la ville talked about “the right to the city.” Now, almost 50 years later, what does a close examination of urban situation around Europe reveal in this matter? Who is really the city for – the inhabitant, the tourist, the investor, someone else? What is the role and strength of non-governmental organisations and various urban movements recently emerging in urban context? Do local governments allow for civic engagement in the urban policies or do they rather enforce their ideas regardless of the citizens’ needs for welcoming public spaces and useful infrastructure? The topic of the session results directly from a phenomenon, which has been recently observed in many places, of slowly shifting focus of municipal authorities from initiatives for tourism development and investment attraction towards initiatives for city residents, their participation in the city and their quality of life. Civic budgets and social consultations illustrating this very trend have become indispensable elements of the actions undertaken by many city authorities. What is the role and place of heritage and heritage listings in this process? How do citizens engage in active use of their city’s heritage?

Historic Urban Landscape

The period of political and economic system transformation in many Central European countries has led to an increasing crisis in spatial planning. So-called liberalisation of the law and periodic rapid growth of investment have brought about visual chaos which is most striking in the largest and most attractive cities. Often it is historical cities that are particularly strongly affected by the problem: disturbing changes can be observed in the shaping of the development outline, and consequently in the panoramas of entire districts. The effects of the pressure from investors usually clashes with the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (2011) endorsed by UNESCO and ICOMOS concerning historic urban landscapes as well as with the needs of local communities, their identity and memory. To what extent can these guidelines be helpful in heritage protection and in a balanced development of our cities? To what extent should they be or already are reflected in urban planning policies?

Creative heritage cities

Creativity and innovation are keywords in the discourse on the development of the contemporary world. The concept of a creative city in this context highlights the importance of cultural industries, cultural infrastructure, as well as “the creative class” in discussions on key city resources. A creative city, according to Sharon Zukin, fosters creativity by promoting open attitudes and low entrance barriers for cultural diversity, and is characterised by “impatient desire for new things, while appreciating what is old.” What is the place of heritage in building the potential of a creative city as well as fostering creative industries development and generating new products and services? What is the impact of heritage in the adaptive reuse of post-industrial architecture and a new image of old industrial districts? What is the relationship between the creative class (Richard Florida’s concept) and heritage? Is heritage “useful” or important for them when choosing the place of residence, working and leisure time?


Space is one of the most common and important perspectives applied to researching and understanding cities. Urban landscape, town- and cityscape, maps, planning, conservation, tourism, greenery – these are the subjects to be discussed during this session, referring to the burning issues of the historical cities and heritage today. Space in this session will be presented in its both tangible and intangible dimension. How, why and in what direction is the space of historical cities changing? On the one hand, space is the key factor that shapes the city. On the other, the city as such creates factors that change its space constantly. This is why the legal regulations as well as social practices need to be moderated in a way which will help to keep the city space a vivid and inspiring phenomenon. Moreover, there are also questions concerning the relationship between the built fabric, nature and people. All of the abovementioned areas of understanding city spaces will be addressed and discussed during the session presenting both historical and contemporary perspectives. Last but not least, the session will help to formulate questions concerning what Central European countries can learn from each other and from outside the region in terms of cityspace.

Revitalisation practices in heritage cities

In recent years, mainly thanks to the inflow of the EU funds, Central Europe has seen a great increase in the need or even fashion for reviving heritage cities and individual historical objects. It is both the historic city centres as well as post-industrial heritage that have become an arena of the new practices.
Given the importance of the trend, it becomes necessary to ask about both positive and negative consequences of revitalisation projects. Are the newly created places positively perceived by inhabitants and tourists and thus have a chance for a future life? How can there be balance between old and new architecture and green spaces? What happens to historical green space complexes under protection – can they be combined with recreation, playgrounds, and education for both children and adults? What is the situation of revitalised post-industrial buildings, often transformed to fulfil completely new roles, and their surroundings? How is the fabric and space changing, and how does it affect the image of the place and attitudes of local communities? The presenters in this session will draw upon selected case studies from the region of Silesia, Belarussian towns, Gdańsk, Poznań, Łódź and Krakow to discuss various aspects of revitalisation.

Honorary patronage of Prof. Małgorzata Omilanowska, the Minister of Culture and Naitonal Heritage of the Republic of Poland

Co-financed by Kraków Municipality.