The recognition of the key role of architectural heritage for sustainable territorial development has pushed the scientific community to give more importance to the involvement of local communities in conservation choices and practices. However, despite the recognition of the benefits deriving from the active participation of local communities in the field of conservation, in practice, this involvement is still marginal and linked to experiences without institutional support. This phenomenon is due to different causes, such as the lack of a participatory culture in conservation. It finds its roots in a conventional approach to architectural heritage conservation merely based on an “expert knowledge”. Consequently, there is an urgent need for approaches and tools to manage the complexity of decisions about conservation, which require close collaboration between local communities, research, and institutions. In this context, the paper aims to investigate the role of the action-research approach in fostering the participation of local communities in conservation processes, especially in marginal areas, where the demographic shrinking dynamics make even more necessary both the institutions’ intervention and the communities’ engagement. Based on these premises, starting from an analysis of recent experiences, the contribution dwells on the need to support the implementation of action-research approaches for the conservation of architectural heritage in marginal areas, paying particular attention to the role of evaluation. More in detail, in the first part of the paper, a reflection on the importance of community involvement for heritage conservation is proposed based on the main documents on the topic. In the second part, the main features of the action-research approach and its strengths and weaknesses have been analyzed through a literature review of action-research experiences applied to architectural heritage at a global level. The analyses have highlighted how most of these experiences are born from spontaneous initiatives, without institutional and methodological support, in which the role of evaluation is still marginal. Therefore, in the final part, the paper proposes a first methodological framework based on integrating action research with the main evaluation tools developed in the scientific literature to support the different phases of the decision-making process. This framework, suitably declined according to the specificities of the case study treated, can represent a valid support for implementing and transposing the research-action approach for heritage conservation in an institutional context.

Action research for the conservation of architectural heritage in marginal areas: The role of evaluation

Rossitti M.;Torrieri F.
2022-01-01

Abstract

The recognition of the key role of architectural heritage for sustainable territorial development has pushed the scientific community to give more importance to the involvement of local communities in conservation choices and practices. However, despite the recognition of the benefits deriving from the active participation of local communities in the field of conservation, in practice, this involvement is still marginal and linked to experiences without institutional support. This phenomenon is due to different causes, such as the lack of a participatory culture in conservation. It finds its roots in a conventional approach to architectural heritage conservation merely based on an “expert knowledge”. Consequently, there is an urgent need for approaches and tools to manage the complexity of decisions about conservation, which require close collaboration between local communities, research, and institutions. In this context, the paper aims to investigate the role of the action-research approach in fostering the participation of local communities in conservation processes, especially in marginal areas, where the demographic shrinking dynamics make even more necessary both the institutions’ intervention and the communities’ engagement. Based on these premises, starting from an analysis of recent experiences, the contribution dwells on the need to support the implementation of action-research approaches for the conservation of architectural heritage in marginal areas, paying particular attention to the role of evaluation. More in detail, in the first part of the paper, a reflection on the importance of community involvement for heritage conservation is proposed based on the main documents on the topic. In the second part, the main features of the action-research approach and its strengths and weaknesses have been analyzed through a literature review of action-research experiences applied to architectural heritage at a global level. The analyses have highlighted how most of these experiences are born from spontaneous initiatives, without institutional and methodological support, in which the role of evaluation is still marginal. Therefore, in the final part, the paper proposes a first methodological framework based on integrating action research with the main evaluation tools developed in the scientific literature to support the different phases of the decision-making process. This framework, suitably declined according to the specificities of the case study treated, can represent a valid support for implementing and transposing the research-action approach for heritage conservation in an institutional context.
2022
Action research; Architectural heritage; Community; Evaluation; Methodology
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1231254
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