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Aplinkos tyrimai, inžinerija ir vadyba, 2006.Nr.3(37), P.

74-79 ISSN 1392-1649

Environmental research, engineering and management, 2006.No.3(37), P.74-79

Cultural Heritage in the Context of Sustainable Development

Indrė Gražulevičiūtė
Kaunas University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Department of Architecture
and Land Management

(received in June, 2006; accepted in September, 2006)

A broader concept of sustainable development includes not only environmental, but also economic,
social and cultural aspects. Lots of researches implemented around the world demonstrate that preservation of
cultural heritage enhances environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability. Cultural heritage can
contribute towards well-being and quality of life of communities, can help to mitigate the impacts of cultural
globalization and can become an incentive for sustainable economic development. Preservation of cultural
heritage is often understood as a barrier to economic development, though various economic benefits can be
generated by cultural heritage and its preservation: creation of income and jobs, job training and maintenance
of craftsmanship skills, revival of city centers, heritage tourism, increase in property values, enhancement of
small business et cetera. Re-use of abandoned or inefficiently used historic buildings is fundamental for
reviving communities and improving quality of life. In order to implement sustainable development strategies
and to improve quality of life it is essential to recognize cultural heritage as a valuable resource and
development incentive. The influence of immovable cultural heritage on implementing strategies of
sustainable development, the role of cultural heritage in the context of globalization as a basic means for
avoiding the trend of cultural globalization, creation of sustainable communities and a possible impact of
heritage resources on economic development and resource productivity are discussed in the paper.
Keywords: sustainable development, cultural heritage, community, cultural globalization, economic

1. Introduction and aims

As it is defined by the World Commission on diversity and identity of the place. One of such
Environment and Development, sustainable features is cultural heritage. Historic buildings and
development is development that meets the needs of cultural landscapes are exactly those elements that
present generation without compromising the abilities create the sense of belonging somewhere, so called
of future generations to meet their own needs [1]. The “sense of place”. Cultural heritage is not just of value
principles of sustainability have already been to the individuals who own it or live in historic
acknowledged in economic development and properties, it can also have a value to well-being and
especially in industries related to resource use, though quality of life of communities, can help mitigate the
a broadened concept of sustainable development impacts of cultural globalization and can become an
includes environmental, economic, social and cultural incentive for sustainable development.
aspects. Thinking of sustainable development in a Another important role of cultural heritage
broader context, the role of cultural heritage becomes striving for sustainable development is its relation
evident. with resource productivity and economic
It is generally recognized that the 21st century development. Preservation of cultural heritage is
will be a century of globalization. Notwithstanding all oftentimes understood as a barrier to economic
the benefits of economic globalization, it causes the development. Of course preservation of cultural
substantive threat of cultural globalization. Therefore, heritage is first and foremost organized to maintain
it is fundamental for every community to identify and and enhance cultural values, though numbers of
maintain its own characteristic features that reflect studies have demonstrated positive economic benefits
Cultural Heritage in the Context of Sustainable Development

of cultural heritage preservation. Better use of cultural diversity of the population [5]. In general, the
existing immovable cultural heritage, especially concept of sustainable development includes not only
empty properties, is an essential part of a strategy for environmental, but also economic, social and cultural
reviving communities and improving quality of life. aspects and is based on the main principles of
Regrettably, the potential of derelict historic buildings integrity of the ecosystem, economic efficiency,
and territories is usually disregarded striving for fast social and intergenerational equity and cultural
economic benefits. Due to such imprudent behavior diversity.
vast territories are developed inefficiently, energy is Primarily, the efforts striving for sustainable
wasted, residential territories are losing their identity, development were concentrated on traditional
transport efficiency is diminished and life quality is economic activities, such as agriculture, mining,
worsened. In order to implement sustainable forestry, fishery and manufacturing rather than on
development strategies and to improve quality of life, cultural diversity or population well-being [5].
it is essential to use the potential of cultural heritage, However, the loss of a sense of place in communities
especially the possibilities embodied in abandoned became a factor of vital concern in the context of
historic buildings and territories. cultural globalization and the main aspect striving for
The aim of the paper is to analyse the influence sustainable communities and sustainable historic
of immovable cultural heritage on implementing environment.
strategies of sustainable development, to discuss the
role of cultural heritage in the context of globalization
as a basic means for avoiding the trend of cultural 3. Cultural heritage and sustainable
globalization, creating sustainable communities and development
the possible impact of heritage resources on economic
development and resource productivity. Speculative developments driven by short term
interests cause a substantial threat to cultural heritage
and historic environment. Cultural heritage and
2. The concept of sustainable development historic environment are not just of value to
individuals who own or live in historic properties.
Traditional approaches of environment Cultural heritage can also have the value to the well-
protection were concentrated on limiting the impacts being and quality of life of communities, can help
on the natural and, to some extent on social and prevent cultural globalization, sustain cultural
cultural environment. The main concern of such diversity and positively affect economic development
approaches was repair, and the perspective was short [6]. According to D. Rypkema, thinking in a broader
time orientated [2]. However, over the recent decades context, the role of heritage striving for sustainable
the concept of sustainable development has evolved. development is absolutely clear: preserving cultural
At the end of sixties, with the general theory of heritage provides environmental sustainability,
systems introduced by Von Bertalanffy, a new model cultural sustainability and economic sustainability [7].
was proposed for the description of reality, with the
aim of creating a common ground between the natural
and social sciences. This theory has provided the 3.1. Cultural heritage and sustainable
opportunity for a more intense dialogue between the communities
disciplines concerning nature and society and it has
generated a scientific paradigm of sustainable The main feature of the 21st century is
development [3]. According to D. Throsby, the globalization. It is universally acknowledged that this
concept of sustainable development merges the ideas phenomenon will affect every country despite its
of sustainable economic development, keeping in political or economic system. According to many
mind ‘development’ that will not slow down and, in economists, the most significant impacts of
some sense, will be self-perpetuating, and ‘ecological globalization will not occur on national or even
sustainability’ meaning the maintenance and provincial levels, the strongest impacts will be local
enhancement of environmental values [1]. The and primarily will affect communities and their
concept of sustainable development has already been citizens [4]. As D. Rypkema states, globalization must
acknowledged in the field of economic development, be understood as two distinct phenomena: cultural
though a broadened notion of sustainable globalization and economic globalization. Some
development acknowledges the importance of other scientists state that cultural globalization is an
sustainability aspects, such as functional sustainability inevitable consequence of economic globalization,
of public infrastructure, the fiscal sustainability of though the others suggest that those two different
local government, physical sustainability of the built phenomena, while interrelated, are not inevitably
environment and cultural sustainability of local linked. It is recognized that economic globalization
traditions and skills [4]. The notion of sustainability has many positive benefits, meanwhile cultural
involves rethinking development to integrate globalization has significant negative social, political,
environmental, economic, social and cultural goals. cultural and economic consequences in a short and in
To be sustainable, development must foster protection a long term [7]. The ongoing destruction of cultural
and rehabilitation of ecological systems, improve heritage, privatization and commercialization of
economic efficiency and enhance the well being and historic environment and public space, transforming

I. Gražulevičiūtė

them into shopping centers, entertainment districts or ‘core indicators’ within a sustainable development
spaces flooded with car-traffic, foster the erosion of strategy. The strategy states clearly that fostering
neighborhoods and communities [2]. Everywhere local distinctiveness and sustaining cultural heritage
becomes the same as everywhere else and are the keys of building sustainable communities [8].
communities from being ‘someplace’ become Another contribution towards implementing the
‘anyplace’. strategy for sustainable development of the United
If smaller or larger communities tend to succeed Kingdom is the Communities Plan adopted by the
in economic globalization, they have to become or Deputy Prime Minister in 2003. The Communities
remain competitive, though their success will be Plan is a long-term program of action for creating and
measured not just by their ability to stimulate maintaining sustainable communities in rural and
economic globalization, but also by their ability to urban areas. The plan lists a set of key requirements
mitigate cultural globalization [7]. The threat of for sustainable communities among which a sense of
cultural globalization requires the decisions at the place, a safe and healthy local environment with well-
local, regional and national levels to secure that designed public and green space, a diverse vibrant and
globalized culture will not emerge. In order to creative local culture encouraging pride in the
mitigate the consequences of this phenomenon, every community and cohesion with it are included [6].
community has to identify its own characteristic It is evident that protection and maintenance of
features that can be competitive in a global market immovable cultural heritage play a crucial role for
and help sustain cultural diversity and reach the goals sustainability of communities, because all the cultural
of sustainable development [4]. One of such assets, theater, music, visual arts, crafts, local customs
distinctive features definitely is cultural heritage. and traditions, are inherently connected with and
In the past economic competitiveness and well- enhanced by the physical context within which they
being of the community were basically determined by were created and evolved for centuries [4]. It is
geographic location and resource factors, though in acknowledged that cultural resources will play a
the 21st century there also exist significant factors, do significant role in sustainable cultural, social,
not depending on geographic location, that influence economic development of communities, so the
economic development and well-being of physical fabric, that has influenced their creation, has
communities. These factors are referred to as Five also to be maintained.
Senses of Quality Communities: sense of place, sense
of identity, sense of evolution, sense of ownership and
sense of community. The expression ‘sense of place’ 3.2. Cultural heritage and sustainable economic
is used to express the particularity of a specific place. development
Sense of identity of the community is shaped by its
attributes that contribute to its differentiation from In the sphere of cultural heritage, the
anywhere else. Sense of evolution is created by the preservation values are critical deciding what to
physical fabric of community that reflects its preserve and how. Even making a typical preservation
functional, cultural, aesthetic and historical evolution. decision reveals many different and sometimes
The notion ‘sense of ownership’ is defined not as an divergent values: artistic, aesthetic and historic
ownership in a legal or property sense, but more values, plus economic values tied with the use of
broadly, as a feeling of an individual sake arising building or other structure under consideration [9]. Of
from a particular place and fellow citizens. Sense of course, preservation of cultural heritage is primarily
community expresses the obligations to and organized to maintain and enhance cultural values, as
interconnectedness with other citizens of community D. Rypkema states in the long run the economic
[4, 2]. It is obvious that cultural heritage is the impact of heritage preservation is far less important
element that shapes the so called five senses: historic than its environmental, cultural, aesthetic and social
buildings and historic environment create the senses impacts. However, many of those agents who have
of belonging somewhere, of social traditions and of the greatest influence on heritage preservation,
cultural identity of historic continuity and foster the property owners, investors, bankers or government
senses of ownership and responsibility. officials, mostly care about the economic aspects of
Numbers of countries, cities and communities cultural heritage [7]. But even in the economic
have decided to develop individual measures for context the value of cultural heritage and the use of its
reaching the goals of sustainable development. preservation are evident. A number of studies
Preservation of cultural heritage and maintenance of implemented around the world have demonstrated
historic environment play a significant role in many positive economic benefits of cultural heritage and
strategies of sustainable development. For example, heritage preservation.
the government of the United Kingdom has Cultural heritage can be valued in a wide variety
recognized that cultural heritage and historic of ways, from the aesthetic and emotional pleasure
environment can play a significant role towards gained from experiencing heritage sites, to the value
meeting the defined sustainability targets [6]. The of those sites as generators of revenue, jobs and
government of the country has established a series of training opportunities [6]. Various economic benefits
indicators against which a progress towards can be generated by cultural heritage and its
sustainable development is measured. The number of preservation. The basic of them are job and household
buildings at risk are recognized as one of the 147 income creation, job training, city center
Cultural Heritage in the Context of Sustainable Development

revitalization, heritage tourism, increase in property buildings is a significant contribution of cultural

values, small business incubation, compatibility with heritage to the local economy [7].
modernization and compatibility with evolution, There are many historic buildings that do not
product differentiation and import substitution [4]. meet current standards of comfort and safety, though
The main priorities of economic development are great efforts have been made to design the methods of
creating jobs and local household income. The adapting historic buildings to modern needs without
rehabilitation of historic buildings is particularly harming their physical structure and architectural
efficient in this regard. The intensity of labor required character. As it is widely recognized that effective
for building rehabilitation determines a substantial preservation of cultural heritage is not just
economic impact on jobs and income. For example, in conservation in museums and the concept of adapted
Norway rehabilitation of historic buildings creates re-use is acknowledged, historic buildings can be used
16.5 percent more jobs that new construction and in a wide variety of ways and respond to the widest
every direct job in a cultural heritage sector creates range of needs [4].
26.7 indirect jobs, comparing with auto industry there Import substitution is a basic issue creating a
the factor is only from 6.3 to 1 [7]. A study sustainable local economy. The essence of the issue is
accomplished by D. Listokin and M. Lahr in the creating locally what otherwise would be purchased
United States in the state of New Jersey has elsewhere. Expertise, labor and materials from the
demonstrated that each million dollars spent on local market are mainly used for preservation of
rehabilitation of non-residential historic buildings cultural heritage, so heritage preservation can be
create two jobs more than the same amount of money defined as locally based. New construction, contrarily,
spent on new construction [10]. Besides, there are often requires import of expertise, materials and labor
other significant issues regarding jobs in cultural [7].
heritage preservation. These jobs are generally well- In economics the differentiated product usually
paid and there is a scarcity of the required skills. The gains a monetary premium. If cities or other urban
local craftsmanship of the building process can often settlements strive to attract capital, they must
be nearly lost but instead can be passed on through differentiate themselves from anywhere else. Cultural
historic preservation, creating jobs and skills [7, 4]. heritage is the element that best expresses diversity
The other important impact of cultural heritage and identity of the place [4].
and heritage preservation is city center revitalization.
The revival of city centers can be noticed in many
European cities and usually rehabilitation of cultural 3.3. Cultural heritage and resource productivity
heritage is a key component of revitalization [11, 12].
The next economic benefit generated by cultural As it is underlined in A Strategy for Sustainable
heritage is heritage tourism. It is recognized that Development for the United Kingdom, The
cultural production will become one of the leading improvement in resource productivity can help deliver
sectors in the post-industrial economy, and the sustainable development [8]. Resource productivity
products will be more and more transformed into measures the efficiency of the economy in generating
‘experiences’ [2]. Of course not every city or other the added value from the use of natural resources. In a
urban settlement should consider tourism a major simple phrase, resource productivity can be defined as
section of its economic base, though when tourism is getting the most out of finite resources, maximizing
identified as a part of an overall development strategy, the use of renewable resources and minimizing waste.
the identification, protection and enhancement of Everywhere, where environmental limits exist,
cultural heritage is fundamental for a successful improvements in resource productivity allow to
tourism effort [4]. combine economic growth and environmental
The effect of cultural heritage on property values protection [14]. Immovable cultural heritage can also
is one more significant economic impact. The study contribute reaching the targets of resource
implemented by New York City’s Independent productivity and foster not only economic growth and
Budget Office has demonstrated that a statistically environmental protection but cultural diversity and so
significant price premium associated with the called five senses of communities, too.
inclusion of a property in a historic district exists. The The value of cultural heritage and historic
quantity of the premium varies from 22.6 to 71.8 environment to resource productivity and sustainable
percent [10]. The research implemented in the United development is particularly clear in relation to
Kingdom has revealed that a pre-1919 house is worth abandoned historic buildings. Unfortunately, it is
average 20 percent more than an equivalent house common for developers to ignore the value that is
from a more recent era and the premium becomes inherent in the ageing and abandoned building stock.
even greater for an earlier historic home [6]. They usually prefer demolition of decaying buildings
One more contribution of cultural heritage is its and replacing them by new constructions or
role in small business incubation. In Europe and in constructing in a vacant land in a fringe of urban
United States, circa 85 percent of all new jobs are territories [6, 13]. For example, in the United
created by firms employing less than 20 people. The Kingdom during the last twenty years nearly three
firms of such size are usually concerned about an million of families have moved to new houses in
affordable rent. Relative affordability of older suburbs [11]. Meanwhile, around one million homes
in over 120 local authorities in the North and

I. Gražulevičiūtė

Midlands are affected by low demand and abandoned occupy over the long-term than a more modern
[6]. Due to such short term interests driven building. Due to the quality and life-span of the
development, vast territories are developed construction materials, the maintenance of the
inefficiently, then energy is wasted, residential Victorian house costs almost 1000 £ per 100m2 less
territories lose their identity, transport efficiency is than the maintenance of the property constructed in
diminished and life quality is worsened in the centers 1980s [6].
as well as in the edges of smaller and larger The governments of developed and developing
settlements. countries striving to implement sustainable
Vacant land and greenfields are neither development strategies and to improve quality of life
renewable nor expanding the resources. The in communities must recognize the value of historic
appropriate and effective use of abandoned or buildings and their repair and regeneration have to be
inefficiently used historic buildings and territories can welcomed rather than their demolition and
contribute towards saving non-renewable resources, replacement or construction in the vacant land.
enhancing sustainable economic development and
improving quality of life. It does not mean that
retention of ageing buildings is favored in every 4. Conclusions
instance, though the re-use of existing properties can
significantly contribute to the identity and Sustainable development can be defined as the
distinctiveness of an area [6]. development integrating environmental, economic,
One of possible ways to demonstrate the social and cultural goals. The trend of economic
economic benefits and contributions towards resource globalization carries a substantial threat of cultural
productivity of the re-use of historic buildings is to globalization. The loss of distinctiveness of the built
evaluate the energy savings represented by the re-use environment and identity of the place are the main
of existing ageing buildings instead of replacing them concerns striving for sustainable development of
with new constructions. The research implemented in communities. Numerous studies and researches
the United Kingdom has indicated that the energy implemented around the world have demonstrated
produced from non-renewable resources consumed in that cultural heritage and its preservation can
building services accounts for about half of the significantly contribute towards reaching the targets
emissions of carbon dioxide in the United Kingdom. of sustainable development.
Besides, over 90 percent of non-energy minerals Nowadays preservation of cultural heritage has
extracted in Great Britain are used to supply the to be considered not only as a means for preserving
construction industry with materials, and each year physical fabric and sustaining cultural values, but as
circa 70 million tones of construction and demolition an incentive for enhancing cultural diversity, sense of
materials and soil become waste [14]. Moreover, new place and sustainable economic development. Various
construction is not necessarily less expensive or more economic benefits can be derived from cultural
profitable than rehabilitation and re-use of existing heritage and its preservation. Historic buildings and
historic buildings. The study by D. Rypkema sites are generators of income, jobs and training
implemented in 1991 has demonstrated that, if no opportunities, they contribute towards product
demolition is required, a commercial rehabilitation of differentiation of communities. Preservation of
existing buildings will cost approximately from 12 cultural heritage enhances import substitution, revival
percent less to 9 percent more than comparable new of city centers, heritage tourism, influences increase
construction. The typical cost saving in rehabilitating in property values. Historic properties stimulate small
the existing buildings is 4 percent. If a new business incubation and are compatible with
construction requires, including the costs of modernization and evolving needs of modern society.
demolishing an existing building, the cost savings In order to implement the sustainable
from rehabilitation should range from 3 to 16 percent development strategies, the value of historic buildings
[10]. is to be recognized and their repair and regeneration
The stock of existing buildings constitutes in has to be welcomed instead of their demolition and
itself a substantial investment of energy and capital, replacement or construction in the vacant land.
which should not be wasted demolishing them and Historic environment and cultural heritage need to be
constructing new buildings. Though the energy acknowledged as valuable resources and development
embodied in ageing structures is not the only factor incentives.
making decisions about their future. The costs of
maintenance and occupancy of older buildings have
also to be taken into account when reaching the goals References
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Indrė Gražulevičiūtė, PhD student at the Department
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Kultūros paveldas darnaus vystymosi kontekste

Indrė Gražulevičiūtė
Kauno technologijos universitetas, Statybos ir architektūros fakultetas, Architektūros ir kraštotvarkos katedra

(gauta 2006 m. birželio mėn.; atiduota spaudai 2006 m. rugsėjo mėn.)

Platesnė darnaus vystymosi samprata apima ne tik aplinkosaugos, ekonomikos, bet ir

socialinius bei kultūrinius aspektus. Įvairūs pasaulyje atlikti moksliniai tyrimai ir studijos parodė,
kad kultūros paveldo apsauga skatina tiek aplinkosauginių, tiek ekonominių, socialinių ir kultūrinių
darnaus vystymosi aspektų įgyvendinimą. Kultūros paveldas gali turėti įtakos bendruomenių
gerovei ir gyvenimo kokybei, gali sušvelninti ar padėti išvengti kultūrinės globalizacijos pasekmių
ir gali tapti darnios ekonominės plėtros stimulu. Deja, dažnai kultūros paveldo apsauga yra
suprantama kaip alternatyva ar net ekonominės plėtros kliūtis. Žinoma, visų pirma paveldo apsauga
organizuojama siekiant palaikyti bei išryškinti paveldo objektų kultūrinę vertę, tačiau paveldas ir jo
apsauga gali teikti ir įvairiapusę ekonominę naudą: kurti papildomų pajamų ir darbo vietų, sudaryti
sąlygas išlaikyti bei tobulinti darbo įgūdžius, skatinti apleistų miestų centrų atgaivinimą, kultūrinį
turizmą, smulkiojo verslo vystymąsi ir kt. Apleistų ir netinkamai naudojamų istorinių pastatų
pritaikymas naujoms paskirtims yra viena pagrindinių bendruomenių atgaivinimo bei gyvenimo
kokybės gerinimo jose sąlygų. Siekiant įgyvendinti darnaus vystymosi strategijas ir gerinti
gyvenimo kokybę, būtina kultūros paveldą pripažinti vertingu ekonominiu ir kultūriniu ištekliumi
bei kokybinės plėtros stimulu. Straipsnyje aptariama kultūros paveldo ir jo apsaugos įtaka darnaus
vystymosi strategijų įgyvendinimui, kultūros paveldo vaidmuo globalizacijos kontekste, siekiant
išvengti kultūrinės globalizacijos ir užtikrinti darnų bendruomenių vystymąsi bei kultūros paveldo
įtaką ekonominei plėtrai ir išteklių tausojimui.