3rd Heritage Forum of Central Europe: The city
September 16–18, 2015 

The theme of the 3rd Forum was The City. The study of the city brought together researchers and practitioners from many disciplines: experts in urban matters, economists, sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, historians, and art historians. The conference opened with the keynote lecture by Professor Jacek Purchla on “The Central European city and its identity”, and on “Conservation 3.0 – Integrated conservation in the age of smart specialisation strategies” by Professor Christer Gustafsson (University of Uppsala).

Following the call for papers announced in 2014, a selection from the over 60 presentations received was made during the session of the Selection Committee in Prague on 9–10 April 2015. The conference consisted of presentations by 80 speakers from 18 countries, and brought together over 160 participants.

The papers were divided into six parallel sessions:
“Cities and their narratives”. The participants tried to answer the following questions: What narratives are sought by Central and Eastern European cities? Who creates them and how? Who do they serve? How can they be shared? And Who creates symbols and what for? The session encompassed three thematic areas: identity, utopia, and memory.

“Heritage in conflict”. The goal of the session was to present the challenges posed by an attempt to maintain balance between the economic interest of investors, urban development, and the contemporary use of material heritage on the one hand, and the protection and conservation of cultural heritage on the other.

“Who is the city for?” Who is the city actually for: the resident, the tourist, the developer, or someone other than these three? What is the role of and driving force behind non‑governmental organisations and various urban movements that have recently emerged in the context of the city? Do local authorities involve citizens in the creation of urban policy, or would they rather enforce their concepts irrespective of the needs of the citizens who desire pleasant public spaces with access to useful infrastructure?

“The historic urban landscape”. The period of system transformation resulted in a developing crisis in spatial planning in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The so‑called liberalisation of the law and the gigantic leap forward made by investments brought about chaos, visible most vividly in the largest and most attractive cities. Participants in the session reflected on the degree to which the guidelines of UNESCO and ICOMOS concerning the historical cityscape could be helpful in protecting heritage and promoting the sustainable development of our cities, and to what degree they should be reflected in planning policies.

“Creative heritage cities”. The session provided an opportunity to consider the following issues: What is the place of heritage in developing the potential of a creative city and in the development of creative industries, new products and services? What is the impact of heritage on the adaptation and new use of post‑industrial architecture and on the new image of old, industrial districts? What is the relationship between the creative class and heritage? Do they find heritage “useful” and/or important while choosing a place to live, work, and relax?

“Cityspace”. Space is one of the most frequently assumed and most important perspectives for studying and understanding the city. The landscape of cities and small towns, maps, spatial development plans, conservation, tourism, and urban green spaces were the main tasks discussed during the session in reference to questions as burning as a historical city and the present status quo of heritage.

“Revitalisation pactices in heritage cities”. In recent years the demand to bring heritage cities and individual heritage sites back to life has increased in Central Europe, mostly thanks to EU grants. Are those places positively construed by residents and tourists alike, and do they actually have a chance to start their lives again? How is the balance between old and new architecture and green areas retained? What is the condition of post‑industrial buildings and their environment, frequently transformed to play entirely different roles?

The forum was complemented with plenary sessions. An introduction to the reflections was the session entitled “The Central European city – Transformation and globalisation”, which entailed discussion between Karel Bartak (Czech Republic), Dr Melinda Benkő (Hungary), Dr Rafał Dutkiewicz, and Dr Slávo Krekovič (Slovakia), and was chaired by Professor Jacek Purchla. The session entitled “Cultural heritage counts for cities” was an opportunity to present the results of a project called Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe. In the first part, Dr Katarzyna Jagodzińska and Joanna Sanetra‑Szeliga presented a report, and the latter’s presentation was continued through a discussion with experts: Kate Pugh of Heritage Alliance (UK) and Edwin Bendyk of the Polish Polityka weekly, chaired by Professor Purchla.

The conference sessions were summarised in the session on “Heritage cities and cooperation in the V4 region”, with the participation of representatives of the Visegrad countries: Barbara Fogarasi (Hungary), Zuzana Jandlová (Czech Republic), Kristína Markušová (Slovakia), and Professor Jacek Purchla.

The forum closed with a session open to the public entitled “Cities: Re‑fashioning needed! On revitalisation in cities” with the participation of Marek Adamov (Slovakia), Dr Tamás Fejérdy (Hungary), Jarosław Ogrodowski (Poland), and Petr Šimon (Czech Republic), moderated by Agata Wąsowska‑Pawlik.
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