11.20 Urban Planning and Transformation of Heritage Values
Urban planning means planning for the future and involves visions of how to use and develop built cultural heritage. Conceptions of built cultural heritage, understandings of its meanings and its heritage values, interact with planning processes. The aim of this paper is to investigate future uses of built cultural heritage envisioned in planning profound and large-scale urban transformations. How is existing built cultural heritage interconnected with ideas of developing and rebuilding built environments? How is built cultural heritage conceptualized in the planning process?
The study will draw on the concept of heritagization and the notion of heritage being a process with the premise that heritage values are socially constructed. As highlighted by Tunbridge and Ashworth (1996), heritage is a contemporary product shaped from history and is as such linked to an imagined past, but is simultaneously a contemporary selection of what should be conserved to an imagined future.
This is problematized in an on-going case study of the urban transformation of Kiruna, a mining town in the northernmost part of Sweden, founded in 1900 as a model company town by the mining company LKAB. As the mines cause subsidence, extensive parts of the town’s buildings, including the town centre, will be relocated to enable the expanding mining industry. The situation also demanded either the demolition or relocation of a large number of historic buildings. The empirical data consists of planning documents, media coverage, observations, and semi-structured interviews covering the time period from 2004, when the urban transformation was initiated, until today.
There is a hegemonic heritage discourse in Kiruna defining the built cultural heritage, which corresponds with the “authorized heritage discourse” (AHD). A strong narrative is framing what is defined as heritage, which in the contemporary urban planning process is being reinforced. Included in the heritage discourse is the conception of Kiruna being a model town. Also, the proposed “new” Kiruna that is to be built is envisioned to be a new model town, which is emphasized especially by the municipality in the urban transformation process.
A preliminary conclusion of the paper is that, on the one hand, the model town is a historic built environment and, on the other, the model town is an idea. There are disagreements among stakeholders as how to handle the built cultural heritage in the urban transformation, whether a small number or a large amount of historic buildings should be moved, and also how to reassemble them at new locations. The model town idea has an influence on these planning decisions. There has been a shift in how the built cultural heritage is defined; from a notion of conservation of material objects by moving historic buildings, toward focusing on immaterial values and the idea behind the buildings when arguing, it is better to build a new model town according to today’s standards and town planning ideals.