Cultural identity (History and heritage vector)

studio trajectory leaders: Gerdy Verschuure-Stuip, Teake Bouma

Densification or shrinkage can become an extra challenge when a place, a district, a town or a region has special historical characteristics, qualities, and values or even has a monumental status.  How can you define the historic identity of our urban landscapes and make sure it is functional for the future and touches the heart of owners and locals? Recently the focus in heritage is shifting from preservation and transformation into landscape biographical approaches in which narrative is essential.

Densification and preservation, protection or even enhancement of the existing tangible and intangible qualities and characteristics are part of these challenges we have to tackle in the future. Which approach or philosophy do you choose? What is the most valuable; the tangible elements and structures or the intangible values, narratives and meaning? Which urban features determine these qualities and characteristics? How can districts be densified because of urbanisation or tourism and preserve or enhance the existing values?

Within this studio Cultural identity, the central theme is to define and design with the (cultural) identity of urban landscapes in the world. In every proposal, we will challenge you to debate what you think are the most important tangible and intangible values of that place? And what methods of transformation can be used to show the narratives and values in plans for the future? Within the studio, we will discuss preservation and transformation, physical elements. public spaces and narratives and how to make heritage important for future developments

Research questions

  • What’s the role of urban identity in growing and shrinking cities?
  • How can identity be connected to density?
  • What characteristics contribute to the essence of the place (place theory- placemaking)?
  • What is the meaning of place and place identity, and how are intangible aspects and history being part of this discussion?
  • What is the cultural value of cities? What elements of the built heritage can accelerate spatial development and contribute to a regional driven identity?
  • Can you develop a biographical approach to identify the urban identity of a living area?



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