Threatened urban heritage narratives | Future making in the Anthropocene Podcast

Heriland-researchers Komal Potdar and Ana Jayone Perez

In the first episode of the Future making in the Anthropocene Podcast, Heriland-researchers Komal Potdar and Ana Jayone Perez share views and dilemmas that they encountered in two Israeli port cities: Jaffa and Acre. Their research addresses the development of life in these historic cities from places to live into places that are threatened by mass tourism, gentrification and flooding, caused by climate change.

The cumulative effects of these developments are challenging the value of urban heritage. This can lead to a conflict of interest between residents and businesses, such as real estate developers that cater to the tourist industry. Is the local government capable of bringing conflicting views together in city planning and can it involve the civil society in far-reaching decision-making processes?

According to Ana Jayone Yarza Pérez, asking citizens about major changes in their city, provides an enormous challenge for them. “We are not used to imagining urban futures because the speed of human life is totally different to the speed of the city. Usually the city changes really slowly, while we change our clothes every day and the furniture in our homes every five or ten years.” She argues that city planners should raise awareness on pressing issues and study the cities’ historic evolution to provide insights on possible future development.

To understand the evolution of historic cities, archival maps, historic photos along with intangible aspects of memory and identity play an important role in interpretation and documentation. Innovative methods and tools should be applied for the assessment of the attributes and values of historic cities. Komal Potdar stresses: “The spatial interventions of today will be the character and heritage of the future. This emphasizes the fact that the attributes of historic cities, which gives them their identity, need to be addressed, documented, and assessed for their values. And should foster critical discussions amongst the designers and planners.”

Komal Potdar and Ana Jayone Yarza Pérez conducted their Phd-research under supervision of professor Michael Turner and professor Els Verbakel of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and Frank van der Hoeven of Delft University of Technology. Their position as locally embedded researchers allowed them to interview many different stakeholders involved in city planning and development.

Show notes

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The podcast series ‘Future Making in the Anthropocene’ is generously supported by the Creative Industries Fund Netherlands and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, that coordinates the EU projects Heriland and Terranova. Both projects are funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement Nos. 813883 and Nos. 813904 respectively.