From Documentation to Policy Making: managing Old Aleppo’s Built Heritage


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The Columbia University Middle East Research Center (CUMERC) and the Amman Institute for Urban Development (Ai) hosted a lecture entitled, “From Documentation to Policy-Making: Managing Old Aleppo’s Built Heritage” by Dr. Luna Khirfan, Visiting Fellow at CUMERC’s Institute for Scholars, Ai Fellow, and Assistant Professor at the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. The well-attended lecture was held at CUMERC on Wednesday February 16, 2011.

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From Documentation to Policy Making: managing Old Aleppo’s Built Heritage

  1. 1. Dr. Luna Khirfan CUMERC, Visiting Fellow 2011 Assistant Professor The University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada© Luna Khirfan
  2. 2. © Luna Khirfan
  3. 3. 1.  High Fixed Costs ¨  Tools ¨  Strategies ¡  Marketing ¡  Unique Selling Preposition ¡  Infrastructure ¡  Place-as-Product ¡  Urban design ¡  Historic Preservation Consequences •  Prioritizing the economy •  Prioritizing tourists needs •  Excluding local reisdents© Luna Khirfan
  4. 4. 2.  Global Demand / Local Products ¨  Tools ¨  Strategies ¡  Disneyfication ¡  Homogenization ú  Standardization ú  Quality control ¡  Legitimization ¡  Commodification ¡  Staging Consequences •  Deterioration of tourist experience •  Disapproval & alienation of locals •  Loss of distinctiveness •  Threat to sustainability© Luna Khirfan
  5. 5. © Luna Khirfan
  6. 6. Current Planning Place-as-Product Planners Unique Selling Proposition = Distinctiveness Place experience • Planning? • Sustainability? Residents Practice • Needs & interests Place experience • Choices Tourists • Empowerment Distinctive cultural Reality experience Theory© Luna Khirfan
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  8. 8. Aleppo© Luna Khirfan
  9. 9. © Luna Khirfan
  10. 10. World Heritage List Selection Criteria Criterion Criterion details iii Unique testimony to a cultural tradition / civilization iv Outstanding example that illustrates a significant historical stage© Luna Khirfan
  11. 11. © Luna Khirfan
  12. 12. Sampling & Recruitment Local residents •  Live / work •  Every 10th unit •  In person 3 groups of respondents Foreign tourists Planners •  > 1 year •  Planning •  English-speaking •  Implementation •  In person •  Pre-contacted •  In-person© Luna Khirfan
  13. 13. Participants Planners 8 In-depth interviews Tourists 41 Structured interviews Structured interviews Residents 36© Luna Khirfan
  14. 14. Residents Tourists Planners Place Tactics Qualitative Interviews X X X Observations X X X Participant-determined X X Open-ended X X X Text, images, crafts X X Cognitive mapping X X X Verbal descriptions X X X Documents & archives X X Correlational Survey X X Close-ended X X Score-oriented X X© Luna Khirfan
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  16. 16. The Project for the Rehabilitation of the Old City of Aleppo© Luna Khirfan
  17. 17. Objectives ¨  Social sustainability ¨  Residents’ quality of life “… we gave as all of our objectives to the living conditions and not strictly for tourism purposes, so we thought that once it is comfortable to live here people will stay here and it will become a vital place, a vivid place, a living place and becomes good, interesting for tourism” Aleppo planner© Luna Khirfan
  18. 18. Strategy ¨  Urban design ¨  Historic preservation© Luna Khirfan
  19. 19. Documentation ¨  Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Existing Proposed© Luna Khirfan Source: Development Plan, Old City Directorate, Aleppo
  20. 20. Tools ¨  Regulations ¡  Land use & zoning ¡  Building codes “A strict policy of control”© Luna Khirfan
  21. 21. Tools ¨  Standardization© Luna Khirfan
  22. 22. Tools ¨  Infrastructure “The first step to execute the project’s works in the Old City was changing the infrastructure.” Aleppo planner “In my personal opinion, the change of the infrastructure in the Old City was the best thing that took place … the sewerage network and the water network that were changed and of course some maintenance of the streets.” Aleppo planner© Luna Khirfan
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  25. 25. Local residents’ needs Local residents are able to include their needs in the historic preservation and tourism development projects Agree / Neutral Strongly disagree / Strongly agree Disagree 8.8% 0 91.2% Aleppo s Economic activities© Luna Khirfan
  26. 26. Local residents’ interests Level of local authority sharing Did you participate in the project in any way? No Yes 86% 14% Digging went on for months. They came, dug, and left, without asking anyone … Aleppo resident© Luna Khirfan
  27. 27. Planners’ interpretation of what participation is… “…we started to build data that is specific to the Old City on the basis of local residents’ perceptions to a level you might say 60% technical analyses… the stone … the structure… the infrastructure… …they are the ones living in the Old City and know where the blockage happens and know where all issues are…. …you are unable to build data that is if you don’t take this information from them this thing will cost you much more time.” Aleppo planner© Luna Khirfan
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  29. 29. Struggles ¨  Displacement “The trend that is documented was that the Action Areas of the project are the areas that witnessed the heaviest exchange of property rights in 2002 and… the heaviest in Bab Qinnasrin and Jdeideh and continues to be so.” Aleppo planner© Luna Khirfan
  30. 30. Struggles ¨  Tourism gentrification “…and most of the real estate being exchanged is being exchanged for tourist purposes.” Aleppo planner© Luna Khirfan
  31. 31. Struggles ¨  Socio-economic exclusion Planners Discount tourism Resisting tourism development Residents Interested in tourism Excluded from tourism benefits© Luna Khirfan
  32. 32. Struggles ¨  Socio-economic exclusion “…one of the things that seem to be worrisome over the long run is that by providing supply side rather than demand side subsidies or than supporting the rehabilitation process, [planners] have pushed the lower end users of the spectrum in favor of people who can afford to speculate in those properties…” Aleppo planner© Luna Khirfan
  33. 33. Struggles q  Loss of distinctiveness –homogenization© Luna Khirfan
  34. 34. Struggles q  Threat to physical sustainability – homogenization© Luna Khirfan
  35. 35. Local participation Needs Identities Residents as a Technocrats Homogenization: data resource assess needs standardization & quality control Selectivity “by No response to Suppressing local invitation” local needs identities Informing not Supply-side empowering development Choices Intermittent Minimal choices engagement© Luna Khirfan
  36. 36. Levels of participation 8. Citizen control 7. Delegated power Citizen power 6. Partnership 5. Placation 4. Consultation Tokenism Aleppo 3. Informing 2. Therapy Nonparticipation 1. Manipulation© Luna Khirfan
  37. 37. Current Planning Place-as-Product Planners Unique Selling Proposition = Distinctiveness Place experience • Planning? • Sustainability? Residents Practice • Needs & interests Place experience • Choices Tourists • Empowerment Distinctive cultural Reality experience Theory© Luna Khirfan
  38. 38. Proposed Model Means Collaborative Planning Preserves •  Balancing needs •  Local identities Tourists Residents •  Choices Distinctive Inclusion the life Place Experience within Planners Place-as-Product Unique Selling Preposition Urban rehabilitation© Luna Khirfan
  39. 39. © Luna Khirfan
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