You are using an outdated browser that does not fully support the intranda viewer.
As a result, some pages may not be displayed correctly.

We recommend you use one of the following browsers:

Full text

New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

Tingfun YEH
Chinese Society of Urban Design, Taipei, Taiwan
23-5, Lane 23, Yungkang Street, Taipei, Taiwan, 106
KEY WORDS: Cultural Heritage, Urban, Change, Conservation, Multimedia, Education
The conservation of cultural heritage faces the harshest challenge when physical reconfiguration is equated with modernization, and
economic transformation with progress. Furthermore, with globalization in full gallop, the inherent “value” of cultural heritage is
oftentimes challenged. The issue becomes all the more complex when the quest for “authenticity” comes into play. This is
particularly true in urban communities where “change” is rapid in pace and extensive in scale. Too often, the “authenticity” of a
historic place seems to be compromised. Or is it?
This paper begins with a selective review of key international charters and documents to trace the evolution of “authenticity” as well
as “integrity” in the evaluation of historic resources and related treatment. This is followed by a brief recount of the parallel evolution
from the recognition of historic sites to the emergence of places of cultural heritage.
The role of the community and other related implications are then briefly examined through the experiences of three historic urban
neighborhoods, including Chinatown, Boston, United States, the historic Da-Dao-Cheng District, Taipei, Taiwan, and the ancient
town quarters of Lijiang, China — a Cultural Heritage Sites inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1977.
Ultimately, by conserving living heritage places, the diversity in culture is kept alive. For historic urban neighborhoods to thrive with
their authenticity and integrity intact, building a community that is well educated, informed, and active in historic conservation is one
of the keys. In this respect, the application of multimedia technology in consort with the world-wide-web will be vital.
While both Chinatown in Boston and Da-Dao-Cheng in Taipei
trace their beginning to the early 19 th century, the ancient town
of Lijing dates back to the late 12 th century. The differences in
their respective historical lineage notwithstanding, all three are
densely populated and highly urbanized. In addition, all three
are manifestations of rich layers of cultural fabrics accumulated
through time. Today, each is faced with the difficult task to find
the “right” balance between conservation and development. The
quest for safeguaiding authenticity and/or integrity must
contend with the inevitability and desirability of changes.
The objectives of this short paper are thus two-pronged:
1. Re-examine the distinction between authenticity and
integrity in relation to the conservation of a historic urban
place; and
2. Review and explore the role of the multimedia technology
1.1 Chinatown, Boston
• Population: 4300
• Land area: 19 hectares (46 acres)
Boston’s Chinatown, a historic immigrant neighborhood built
on landfill, dates back to the mid 19 th century when successive
waves of immigrants began to arrive en mass in 1850s. Before
the Chinese established a firm foothold in the area in 1890s, it
had been home to the Irish, Central European Jews, and Syrians.
The neighborhood’s proximity to the railroad terminal and the
city’s administrative and entertainment center also attracted the
thriving leather industry.
Today, it is the fifth largest Chinatown in the United States.
Intermixed with the Greek Revival styled rowhouses that have
been turned into shophouses are loft buildings constructed at the
turn of the last century for the wholesale trade of textile and the
manufacturing industry of leather. Adorned with various
Chinese emblems, they dominate the streetscape of Chinatown.
In addition to a thriving businesses community, the
neighborhood has also developed an underlying support
infrastructure comprised of family associations, service
providers, and advocacy organizations that serves the needs of
the Chinese community in New England at large. For many of
the Asian immigrants and transient visitors alike, Chinatown
help maintain a ethnic identity and/or a distinct lifestyles.
Coming into the 21 st century, Chinatown faces the expanded
presence of non-Chinese speaking immigrants from other parts
of Southeast Asia and the impending transformation of the
nearby adult entertainment district, a.k.a. Combat Zone, into a
downtown cultural hub officially known as the Midtown
Cultural District. In addition, the community still has to contend
with its long-term nemesis, major medical and educational
institutions that were introduced into its folds with the City’s
urban renewal efforts in 1960s.
To help deter institutional encroachment and gentrification, the
community forced the City into a joint development of the 1990
Chinatown Community Plan. The accompanying rezoning plan
also established the first Chinatown District in Boston. In 1995,
Chinatown was selected along with nine other neighborhoods in
Boston to participate in the nation’s first urban, multi-district
Main Street Program under the auspices of the National Trust
for Historic Preservation.