Figure 14: The award-winning Titanic Hotel – An historic regeneration project that has conserved and converted the once derelict Northern Warehouse at Stanley Dock into a boutique hotel (Source: Titanic Hotel Liverpool, no date. Available at http://www.titanichotelliverpool.com/)
Not only has the Titanic hotel given a new lease of life to a building previously on Historic England’s At Risk Register, it also exemplifies principles of sustainable development through its heritage led development process, fostering a “sensitive design approach” (Civic Trust Awards, no date) and, supporting skill development through collaborations with local Universities thus enabling local businesses to hire locally (YBnews, 2014).
Thus, Liverpool has already shown us that heritage conservation and regeneration can function as a facilitator of modern development – an idea that resonates with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development through accomplishing the 17 SDGs (UNESCO, no date). However, at present, developmental goals largely driven by economic interests are seemingly taking precedence in the city’s decisions (Blandford 2017, pers. com.).
Prompted by the high-tension disagreement between Liverpool and UNESCO, Engage Liverpool hosted a series of seminars in October-November 2017, to gauge if local decisions regarding development were representing the voice of the people (Proctor 2017, pers. com.). The seminar saw representation from stakeholders at all levels, and the unanimous verdict of Module 2 (0923294): Are Conservation and Development Mutually Exclusive in the Historic Urban Landscape? A Study of Liverpool and Vienna.
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the jury (attendees themselves largely represented by local residents) was that Liverpool should do everything possible to retain its unique identity inspired by its past, including retaining WHS status (Enagage Liverpool, 2017).
Prior to the arrival of the UNESCO head of North America and Europe in Liverpool, on 2 October 2017, “in a bid to work closer with the DCMS to “reset the relationship with UNESCO”,” (Liverpool City Council, 2017; Liverpool Confidentials, 2017), Mayor Joe Anderson announced the setting up of a World Heritage Task force, an independent advisory body that will impartially assess the situation and put forth its recommendations.
On 18 December 2017, Prix Versailles announced an international student competition titled “Inspiring a Sustainable City: Designs for the World Heritage Docks and a New Stadium in Liverpool”. The brief is to present creative yet functional designs that utilise heritage and cultural capital to empower required socio-economic and infrastructural development in the face of inevitable change (Prix Versailles, 2017). Module 2 (0923294): Are Conservation and Development Mutually Exclusive in the Historic Urban Landscape? A Study of Liverpool and Vienna.
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Figure 15: Engage Liverpool seminar series flyer– Liverpool UNESCO World Heritage Site: A Status Worth Fighting For? (Source: Engage Liverpool, 2017. Available at https://www.engageliverpool.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Seminar-Flyer-2017.pdf) showing representation from stakeholders at international, national and local levels as well as academic and heritage management experts as well as developers. Module 2 (0923294): Are Conservation and Development Mutually Exclusive in the Historic Urban Landscape? A Study of Liverpool and Vienna.
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3. HISTORIC CITY OF VIENNA
European capital of music, former seat of power for the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now a millennial capital city, Vienna has always been associated with affluence, power and culture. Today, the historic urban core not only stands testimony to three centuries of change, but is also a modern city that has kept up with transforming times (City of Vienna, 2014:7,9).
The fact that Vienna beautifully represents its historical evolution coupled with, high levels of authenticity that have been retained in its architecture and urban fabric and, its intangible cultural offer of being an essential source and center for the promotion of music in Europe, are the key factors based on which it was inscribed as a WHS in 2001 (WHC UNESCO, 2001:41).
However, while keeping a foot in its past, Vienna has always had an eye on the future. It is a city that has not wanted to take a preservative approach to the management of its urban heritage – one which turns the city into a “museum” (Nowotny, 2009; City of Vienna, 2009: 28; City of Vienna, 2014:37).
Figure 16: Virtual 3D map of the city of Vienna developed through a cooperation between MA18 (Department for Urban City Development) and MA41 (Surveying Department) of the City of Vienna, and Zkoor Software Technologies (Source: Zkoor Software Technologies, no date. Available at http://www.zkoor.com/websiteredax/77-1-3D-City-Flight.html) Module 2 (0923294): Are Conservation and Development Mutually Exclusive in the Historic Urban Landscape? A Study of Liverpool and Vienna.
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Figure 17: Strategies and instruments employed in Vienna (City of Vienna, 2009:7) to maintain its historic character in the urban fabric (Image Source: Author)
Figure 18: Additional initiatives taken by the City of Vienna to maintain its historic urban fabric while accommodating development (City of Vienna, 2009:37-43) (Image Source: Author) Module 2 (0923294): Are Conservation and Development Mutually Exclusive in the Historic Urban Landscape? A Study of Liverpool and Vienna.
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As illustrated by figure 17 and 18, through several strategic initiatives and instruments designed to monitor and guide development within the historic city, Vienna has been able to, in the past, conserve and integrate its historic urban fabric. It has demonstrated a stance that cities must adapt to changing times but, they should do this in a manner that least compromises the vast reserves of value that its unique heritage and culture bring (Schicker, 2009; Madreiter, 2014; Denscher, 2014; Zunke, 2014; Trisko, 2014; City of Vienna, 2014:52).
However, recent changes in legislation have contributed to rising concerns on the maintenance of this individuality and identity in the future. The new urban development plan (STEP 2025) has altered regulations – specifically, the clause on restricted high-rise zones part of the High-Rise Concept 2002, has been removed in the High-Rise Concept 2014. New constructions are now individually assessed to determine their feasibility and suitability (ICOMOS, 2015: 5-7). This has led to the development of another instance of contention between the local bodies and UNESCO – the proposal for the Vienna Ice Skating Club (est. 1899)/Intercontinental Hotel (built 1964) adjoining the Weiner Konzerthaus (built 1913) in Heumarkt. In 2013, the owners launched an international architectural competition whose brief was to reimagine the hotel and the plot used by the ice-skating club to develop a public space that was complementary to its context and integrated neighboring heritage zones like the Beethoven Platz, ‘Grunderzeit” buildings across the street and Weiner Konzerthaus.
The hotel was built before Vienna was inscribed as a WHS, and its scale and design was already deemed by advisory bodies as one which “strongly disturbed” (ICOMOS, 2014:1) the visual axis from the Belvedere Palace and its gardens. However, the winning design was one which proposed that the existing 45m high building be replaced by a 75m high one (Rasinger, 2017:104). The 2014 ICOMOS technical review found this solution “unacceptable” as, instead of reversing the negative visual impacts, it would only further diminish the authenticity and integrity of the historic skyline and, it “highly recommended” developing a “long-term policy Module 2 (0923294): Are Conservation and Development Mutually Exclusive in the Historic Urban Landscape? A Study of Liverpool and Vienna.
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to restore the integrity of this view step by step” (ICOMOS, 2014:1). Following this, UNESCO urged the City Council to revisit the proposal, halt granting consent to any other major developments in the WHS prior to consolidating the planning policy, and undertake Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) for all future high-rise proposals (WHC UNESCO, 2016:118-119). Negotiations have now resulted in the reduction of height of the tower to 66.3m (Rasinger, 2017:104). But, this is one of several proposals – a similar issue is also being negotiated since 2008 in the proposal for the Vienna Central Train Station (initially 100m high) (WHC UNESCO, 2008:110). In December 2017, the Austrian Ombusdman too declared that the proposed development in Heumarkt was a serious case of “maladministration” (Ombudsman, 2017).
Figure 19: The Vienna Intercontinental Hotel buildings as seen from Lothringerstrasse (Source: Annexure V of the ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission to the World Heritage Property “Historic City of Vienna” (Austria) (C1033),2015. Available at http://whc.unesco.org/document/140325)
In July 2017, dissatisfied by the HIA and visualisations of the Vienna Intercontinental Hotel/ Ice-Skating Club project proposal and the initiative taken by the local authorities to re-examine changes in governance and legislation like the High-Rise Concept 2014 and the Glacis Module 2 (0923294): Are Conservation and Development Mutually Exclusive in the Historic Urban Landscape? A Study of Liverpool and Vienna.
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Masterplan, UNESCO has placed the Historic City of Vienna on the World Heritage in Danger List (WHC UNESCO, 2017:120-121).