Cities are facing challenges that dramatically affect their social and physical landscapes, leading to the increase of urban segregation and polarization. One response to these challenges is adaptive reuse, yet, in heterogeneous communities, these adaptations are often a source of conflict, because local actions often lack an integrative approach, leading to further exclusion. In this paper the authors explore the potential of adaptive reuse of urban heritage as a planning tool to support inclusiveness and heterogeneity.
The city of Acre is used as a case study, where different scenarios for urban heritage are proposed and tested among stakeholders through interviews. These aim to explore how adaptive reuse processes can lead to the inclusion or exclusion of certain groups and how design interventions in historic urban landscapes challenge the way the current disconnected historic and urban layers interact.
The paper presents the commonalities and differences between the interviewees' perceptions on Acre's functioning, their idea of inclusiveness and other aspects related to urban design. Moreover, it highlights the existing conflicts of interest, value prioritization and the adequacy of the proposed scenarios, serving as a way to verify the accuracy of the scenario building process.
Testing an urban design tool related to adaptive reuse of urban heritage in a real and extreme case, based on the guidelines of the Historic Urban Landscape Recommendation; and critically analysing the sources of conflict and value systems to address inclusion in heterogenous settings.
Yarza Pérez, A.J. and Verbakel, E. (2022), "The role of adaptive reuse in historic urban landscapes towards cities of inclusion. The case of acre", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHMSD-05-2022-0074
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2022, Ana Jayone Yarza Pérez and Els Verbakel
Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode
1. Introduction and conceptual framework
Cities around the world are facing challenges that are dramatically affecting their social landscapes and physical environments, leading to the increase of urban segregation and polarization of communities. Since 2018 more than half of the population worldwide (55%) lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050 (New Urban Agenda, 2017).
This accelerated growth of the urban population combined with migration and demographic shifts have generated a series of urban pressures ranging from rapid urban growth and community displacement, to gentrification and segregation. These pressures have a direct social impact on communities affected by fluctuations in the real estate market, lack of accessibility and other transformations of their daily urban environment. These pressures become even more acute in heterogeneous societies, confronted by challenges of diversity: cultural segregation, social dissonance and polarized views.
Designing cities as safe, resilient, inclusive and sustainable (SDG 11, UN Habitat), can serve to address these challenges of the 21st century city. Yet, in many cases, urban design practices and processes are based on obsolete paradigms, which do not adequately address current issues. These models understand the city as a final product made up of pieces (objects, buildings …), instead of interpreting the city as a process, where the act of making is always present (Sassen, 2011; Sennett, 2006). Exploring how urban design tools can improve decision-making processes and have a positive impact on the evolution of the city and its inhabitant's wellbeing is key to attain more liveable urban areas and their sustainable development.
It is in this context when heritage planning becomes relevant for the sustainable development of contemporary cities, to develop their identity, uniqueness and attractiveness, as well as fostering potential for investment and economic growth (Ashworth, 1994). Therefore, it becomes urgent to redevelop urban centres and prepare them to face the urban challenges of the 21st century (Bandarin et al., 2011; Sassen, 2011). This can be addressed by means of the Historic Urban Landscape approach (UNESCO, 2011), which addresses “the broader setting” of cities, expanding the limits of traditional heritage beyond the notion of “historic centre” or “ensemble” and pushes the urban physical limits to include not only the tangible elements, but also the intangible (Barthel-Bouchier, 2010; Teller et al., 2004; UNESCO, 2011). This recent approach, tested in various cities all over the world (Bandarin and van Oers, 2012), has proven to be challenging to implement as it aims to address urban issues with multi-scalar, multi-level and inter-disciplinary views and due to the importance of responding to local specificities, its application changes from one case to another.
The framework provided by these documents sets the basis for this article and proposes urban scenarios that promote inclusiveness and continuity throughout the historic urban area rather than breaks or ruptures (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2020a).
1.2 Adaptive reuse of urban heritage in heterogeneous communities
In the case of this paper, the focus is set on the adaptive reuse of urban heritage in heterogeneous communities. The 3-pronged approach of sustainable development (the economic, social and environmental spheres) is addressed through Adaptive Reuse and the role of culture as a brace for sustainable development is acknowledged by bringing urban heritage to the front (Bandarin et al., 2011; Bandarin and van Oers, 2012; United Nations, 2015).
1.2.1 Adaptive reuse
Adaptive reuse is the transformation of the function of an underused system into a new use (Apserou, 2013; Plevoets and Van Cleempoel, 2019, 2020; Stone, 2020; Wong, 2017). It can tackle urban issues holistically as this process can enhance positive environmental impact, encourage social and participatory processes and promote economic dynamism through culture (Apserou, 2013). However, its success will depend on the underlying approach. In this case, the global frameworks aiming for sustainable development and the focus in heritage planning provide this framework.
It is important to understand how the process of adaptive reuse differs in its application when the adapted element is urban, instead of architectural. On the one hand, as the process of adaptive reuse has been traditionally used in architectural elements, this usually focuses on the two parts of the process: adaptation of the physical space through tangible interventions in its materiality, form, structure and other built elements; this way the building can host a new use (reuse), which implies changing the intangible aspects of the architectural element, such as the users, behavioural aspects linked to the place and times of use, among others (Plevoets and Van Cleempoel, 2019; Stone, 2020; Wong, 2017).
On the other, urban interventions follow totally different decision-making processes than architectural: the latter are usually managed by private developers and even when supported by public resources, the decisions more often than not are top-down; the urban, by contrast, are directly connected to the local authorities, the public sector, the civil society, the residents and other users. Hence, the urban adaptive reuse processes focus on the reuse (major change in intangible aspects) and aim to enhance the adaptability of these areas with minor changes to the physical urban parts (minor change in tangible aspects). Also, the decisions are made by a wider range of actors, always including the public sector and being citizen engagement recommendable for greater success.
Therefore, the role of adaptive reuse as a mechanism to tackle urban and heritage issues holistically is fundamental. This integrated process is particularly important to facilitate social inclusion and avoid social exclusion, as well as to guarantee that no narratives are lost in the process (Stern, 2020). Overall, the results from an adaptive reuse process have the ability to influence not only the surrounding communities but also other intangible aspects beyond form and place, such as community building, sense of place (Siders and Rockman, 2020), economic development and so on.
1.2.2 Urban heritage
As a concept, urban heritage is global and has a worldwide scope. Usually, it is defined as the historic and physical layers constituting the contemporary urban area. These include the built heritage with architectural and historical value, the urban plan and the land utilization. However, the current views on heritage, like The Historic Urban Landscape approach, published by UNESCO in 2011, go beyond the notion of historic centre and traditional layering to include the broader urban context and its geographical setting (UNESCO, 2011). This approach includes a wider range of elements, comprising not only the tangible but also the intangible components. The framework developed during the “Heritage in Urban Contexts” meeting held in Fukuoka in 2020, classifies Urban Heritage into four categories: the wider context, the urban elements, the architectural elements and the intangible cultural elements (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, 2020b). All of these capture their local and regional identity and therefore, this framework needs to be adapted to the context accordingly.
The significance of urban heritage relies on the ability to transmit heritage from one generation to the next (Jackson, 2020) and the power to create sense of community and attachment to place (Siders and Rockman, 2020). Altogether, its preservation aims to provide a tangible link to our past. Nonetheless, heritage can restrict the options for change due to limiting protection laws, it can promote gentrification processes as generally heritage preservation processes enhance certain historical narratives over others (Gould Ellen et al., 2020). Actually, researchers state that globally non-Western sites are underrepresented on the UNESCO World Heritage List (Frey and Steiner, 2010) and at the local level, public institutions focus on the tangible aspects of heritage and their relation with political concerns (Zukin, 2011).
1.2.3 Heterogeneous communities
Heterogeneous communities continuously evolve, creating, utilizing and adapting the cultural heritage in their own way, which materialize into the urban space and multiple forms of intangible expressions. Therefore, these elements of urban heritage are under constant threat of being changed or erased and also need to be maintained, implying a constant reassessment of the values to be maintained, adapted or diminished (Berlin and Hardy, 2000).
Usually, policies and local actions are disconnected, creating social exclusion mechanisms, particularly for those that are already disadvantaged. In heterogeneous communities, the aspiration for inclusiveness implies reassessing the current mechanisms and the way the city actors and different communities, including migrants and refugees, are given (or not) the possibility to shape urban development and to be part of the city (UN-Habitat, 2020).
The current decision-making processes lack an integrative approach to adequately respond to the multiplicity of dissonant voices, to tackle the society's needs and demands and also adjust to the change in values and safeguard the cultural heritage. In many cases, marginalized communities lack the means to control their physical space, falling into a vicious cycle where these communities struggle to maintain or rebuild, becoming targets of social injustice, redevelopment or gentrification (Graves, 2020). In addition, the absence of integrated planning tools creates a gap between the theoretical global frameworks that aim for integrated processes and the practice that is silo oriented. There is a similar gap between the general understanding and the local implementation of these goals, as the concepts related to sustainability differ from one place to another requiring interpretation to meet the local cultural values. All of these affect heritage and urban design processes as they can become a double-faced tool, an opportunity to mitigate mechanisms of exclusion and give visibility to the multiplicity of voices; or, on the contrary, maintain the prevalent narratives and status quo.
1.3 Acre: case study
The city of Acre in Israel provides the perfect example to showcase the aforementioned issues. This port city in the north-western part of Israel has been continuously inhabited for almost 4,000 years (See Figure 1) and its Old City and Baha'i Shrine are inscribed on the World Heritage List since 2001 and 2008 correspondingly (See Figure 2). The continuous demographic changes over time have resulted in a multiplicity of identities. Even though the societies living in Acre share parts of their cultural identity, have a common history and a sense of belonging to their place of residency, the reality is that the compilation of collective identities is not intrinsically linked to a collective past (Holtorf, 2013). Consequently, conflicts of interest arise among the people and within the institutions, materializing in changes in the cultural heritage that is not common or shared.
These identities manifest into varied and complex layers of cultural heritage, including the people not living in the city anymore. For instance, the World Heritage nomination in 2001 highlighted the regional importance of Acre and since, the institutions in Acre are working towards a shared vision of the Old City as a tourist attraction, enhancing the historic, architectural and cultural values of the WH Site (Harari, 2012; Giladi, 2013). The transformations derived from tourism range from the conversion of households and heritage buildings into tourist accommodation; warehouses and craft workshops into souvenir shops and restaurants; fishing has been substituted by boat tours; and the historic Ottoman and Crusader buildings are used as museums and tourist attractions.
However, the citizenship's vision for the city and their needs mismatch those of these institutions. Some of the issues enhanced by this heterogeneity entail the fact that the Muslim community is no longer in charge in the area and the raising trend of Jewish developers investing in the city (Steinberg, 2016; Szekeres, 2014; Young, 2012). Actually, the demographic division between the Old City, with 95% of Palestinian Arab residents and the New City with mainly Israeli Jewish (Central Bureau of Statistics, Government of Israel, 2018), highlights the clashing discourses on the future development of Acre's urban elements (See Figures 3 and 4). The disconnection between these layers urges to rethink the role of heritage planning and design and specifically the way in which adaptive reuse can serve as the mechanism to negotiate and mitigate the present and future conflicts of interest.
1.4 Aim of the paper and methodology
This paper aims to address these three issues, the adaptive reuse of urban heritage in heterogeneous communities, by exploring on the one hand, the potential of adaptive reuse of urban heritage as a planning tool to support inclusiveness and heterogeneity; and on the other, the proposed scenarios' capacity to link disconnected layers in the city.
To do so, the city of Acre is used as a case study and as the current socio-politics and planning model in Israel permit minimal citizen engagement in urban interventions, the proposed methodology aims to explore how diverse actors in the city would perceive hypothetical scenarios to understand how a more integrated vision could be included in the decision-making processes. To do so, two main steps are followed: (1) cultural mapping and (2) research by design through scenario building and interviews.
2. CULTURAL MAPPING: method and results
Initially, different layers and components of the city are mapped, including socio-economic, environmental and cultural elements of the entire city of Acre:
A | Natural Features: including the topography of the area, mostly flat except for Tel Akko; the water bodies, the sea has the major presence, but the Na'aman river, in the south of Acre which brings water from the “Kurkar”  (Beeri, 2008), divides the residential city from the southern area left for industrial use. The green areas are also mapped, showing an unbalanced distribution of these all over the city (See Figure 5).
B | Urban Features: The built area, divided by neighbourhoods, presents the urban organization of Acre and helps understand its growth; the road and transportation systems serve as the skeleton, being the railway and North-South Avenue, the main axis dividing the city and the highway on the East the main connector with the rest of the country (See Figure 6).
C | Socio-Economic Data: The distribution of public services is indicated, including educational, health centres, sport facilities, touristic accommodation, police stations, pharmacies, gas stations and commercial (see Figure 8).
In Figure 9 special emphasis is given to the religious buildings, as the distribution of Muslim and Christian buildings is concentrated in the Old City, while the Jewish ones are in the rest of the city. The presence of the Baha'i is specific to the World Heritage Baha'i shrine, a tomb near the Tel and a building in the Old City.
The Real Estate data, extracted from Madlan (2021) is mapped in Figure 10, showing the size and price of the households all over Acre. Also, the electoral results from the 2020 Election are mapped by electoral house (approximately one or two per neighbourhood). The most and second most voted party are represented, being The Likud and the Joint List the most present.
2.2 Results from the map analysis
The combination of the cultural maps (See section 2) results in a series of more comprehensible maps, key to design the scenarios that link disconnected layers in the city and also address Acre's main issues.
In Map 1 the Natural Features, the Urban Elements and the Land Use are combined; and in Map 2 the socio-economic data is presented with the road hierarchy and the religious buildings. Furthermore, zooms into the key areas are provided to observe the details. The conclusions extracted from these maps provide the gaps, problematic and conflict of interests in the city of Acre.
From Map 1 (See Figure 11) and its Zoom (See Figure 12), it can be observed that there is a lack of public services in the Old City, almost none in the south (as it is mainly industrial) and the rest of the neighbourhoods have a balanced distribution of these. Also, there is a physical disconnection between the East and the West due to the railway and between the North and the South as the latter is least developed and has many vacant or industrial areas (See Figure 13).
Map 2 refers to the socio-economic data (real state and 2020 election) and the religious use (See Figure 14), showing ideological differences between the East and the West areas; the unequal distribution of religious buildings, showing how the Old City is mainly inhabited by Muslim, with Christian buildings aimed for tourism (See Figure 15) and the rest of the city is mainly inhabited by Jews  (Central Bureau of Statistics, Government of Israel, 2018). In the same way, the real estate information shows lower-income households in the Old City, which gradually increase as we move towards the north and the east, where the households have a higher income (See Figure 16).
3. Research by design: method and results
The next step is research by design: the design of scenarios to be presented to specific people and through the analysis of their reactions to them (during interviews) extract conclusions.
3.1.1 Scenario building
The topic being researched is the Adaptive Reuse of Urban Heritage in Heterogeneous, therefore, the scenarios follow the following principles: (1) they are based on the process of adaptive reuse, (2) they intervene the urban heritage previously identified, (3) to address this topic they utilize the information about heterogeneity and the conflicts of interests in the city, also extracted from the maps (See section 2.2) and the prior-knowledge on the region.
220.127.116.11 Design criteria – themes
The tackled thematic areas comprise the spheres of sustainable development (social, economic, environmental and cultural) and urban design principles (connectivity, inclusiveness and land use), aiming to propose scenarios which address real problems with an integrated approach. These show in some cases extreme options, where themes are highlighted or lack, to intentionally provoke a reaction and explore the possibility of middle ground options (see Figure 17).
To better visualize how each scenario addresses these points, a radar plot is attached to each scenario. The plot measures 8 criteria based on:
Urban design principles: connectivity, public space, reuse of existing infrastructure, residential
The spheres of sustainable development: tourism, local/cultural values, social services/approach and environment.
Each theme is rated from 1 to 10 (being 1 the lowest) depending on how much the scenario influences the theme, if it is one of the main objectives aimed by the scenario and if it is indirectly tackled by it. The rating is the following:
8–10 Main aim, the scenario directly influences the theme.
5–7 The theme is indirectly addressed.
3–4 The theme is not addressed by the scenario.
1–2 The theme is purposedly avoided/neglected (not related to the institution's interests).
18.104.22.168 Design criteria – scale
One of the main challenges in Acre, is the diverse perception on what Acre is. Some people consider the Old City of Acre, as Acre; and other people understand it as the area inside the municipal boundary. Therefore, in order to cover this gap both scales are tackled, some scenarios focus on the Old City and other the entire municipality.
22.214.171.124 Design criteria – number of scenarios
The identified issues are the following: the disconnection between the West and East and North and South areas; the lack of services in the Old City; mass tourism trend in the Old City; and the unequal and disproportioned distribution of public spaces all over the city (See section 2.2). Each scenario aims to provide a solution through the combination of these issues (ex: disconnection between East and West, lack of public space), so the number of proposed scenarios is narrowed to four, as it seems a reasonable number not to saturate the participants with excessive information and not too limited to explore various variables.
126.96.36.199 Design criteria – urban heritage and conflict
The criteria on the urban heritage elements to be adapted is based on the level of contest the elements suppose. To do the selection, the relevancy of the urban heritage for the different communities is mapped, showcasing the overlap in some elements, the more communities related to the element, the more contested. This heat map (See Figure 18) supports the selection of the elements to adapt, which include the hottest and coldest to compare the perceptions.
188.8.131.52 Design Criteria – visualizing the scenarios
It is fundamental to consider the groups of people who will be reacting to the different scenarios, so that these are adequate, clear and simple enough to be understood by the interviewees. In our case, most of the participants have a background on sectors related to architecture or conservation, so reading a map is not an issue. Nevertheless, members of the civil society and laypeople are also included, so a decision on simplicity in visuals and the use of reference images was made. Moreover, the scenarios show a conceptual design, not delving into constructive details or materials, leaving room for interpretation, the addition of improvements by the participants and giving flexibility.
184.108.40.206 Proposed scenarios
220.127.116.11.1 Scenario 1 – AQUEDUCT – bike and pedestrian trail from World Heritage to World Heritage. The first scenario proposes the reactivation of the Ottoman Aqueduct trace with a public trail connecting the Old City with the Baha'i Shrine area. This strategy aims to utilize an already existing, yet neglected, infrastructure, the Aqueduct, as this is an element of urban heritage which creates no conflict (See Figure 18) and use its physical and virtual trace for a public space and improve the city's connectivity. This way, two of the issues identified in the city are addressed: the disconnection in the city and the unequal distribution of public spaces (See section 2.2).
This new trail would target pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles, such as bikes, in order to compensate the lack of public spaces in the city. It would include bike parking spaces for the citizens and the tourists to rent, creating new active nods where economic activities such as commerce, restaurants and cafes could be placed; and regarding tourism, alternative accommodation could be placed along the route (see Figure 19).
One of the main features the scenario offers is the connection between the two sides of the city, separated by the railway, providing an opportunity to explore the design of the connection spots, as well as the creation of new public and green areas in the British Mandate, where no traces of the aqueduct are found and a virtual line is needed.
Finally, using the existing World Heritage sites as the trail extremes incentivises the cultural value of the city, highlighting the richness of the city. These two sites serve as poles of attraction for tourists, while the areas in between are reactivated for the citizenship (see Figure 20).
This scenario presents a new direction for Acre, with a clear emphasis in the social aspect and a city-wide public space, focusing on the connectivity. The reuse of a heritage infrastructure and the enhancement of the 2 WH sites by its connection is fundamental. Other aspects, like tourism activation and the valorisation of local traditions are subjacent to this project, while adding residential use is out of the question.
18.104.22.168.2 Scenario 2 – AL-JAZZER MOSQUE AREA – option A: local needs – option B: mass tourism. The second scenario proposes two extreme options as a way to discuss their positive and negative impact and find a midway. In this case, a hot area is selected, the Old City, specifically the area surrounding Al-Jazzer Mosque, where we can find some big lots and few religious buildings. The options address the issues of lack of services in the Old City and the mass tourism trend in the area (see Figure 21).
Option A proposes the restoration of these buildings so that the needed services can be included. For example, there is a lack of health centres, cultural places and social housing; so, these buildings would be adapted for these uses and being placed in the centre of the Old City, accessibility would be guaranteed.
Option B addresses the existing conflict between local inhabitants and tourism interests by homogenizing the Old City and transforming it into a tourism pole and removing the existing tensions with the locals. This means moving the local inhabitants to the New City and converting the households into touristic accommodation, promoting monuments, heritage buildings and tours. The conservation of the Old City would be guaranteed as it would be managed through the economic revenue from the economic activities in the area (see Figure 22).
Therefore, in Scenario number 2, option A aims for the social development, focusing on the local needs and the adaptation of deteriorated buildings into residential use. Option B, by contrast, focuses on the economic side, mainly tourism, while it also uses adaptive reuse as the main strategy.
22.214.171.124.3 Scenario 3 – MARINA/PORT OF ACRE – option a: local oriented – option B: tourism oriented. In this third scenario the focus is set in the Marina of Acre, one of the most visited areas of the Old City (a hotspot). In this case we have similar tensions as in the Scenario 2, so two options are proposed addressing the issue of lack of public spaces and the mass tourism trend.
Option A aims for a local port, where fishing is encouraged, leaving market space for the fishermen to sell their fish, a car-free promenade for the families to enjoy and a leisure park for children, as the city lacks areas for this section of the population.
Option B, by contrast, enhances tourist related activities by promoting restaurants and hotels along it, a night market where souvenirs would be sold and as fishing is in decadence, turning this activity into boat tours (see Figure 23).
Scenario 3 has a public space as its area of intervention and the adaptation of it is the key. In option A, the environmental, local and social values are prioritised; while option B goes for tourism and maintains some of the local and cultural aspects to it.
126.96.36.199.4 Scenario 4 – NORTH AND SOUTH ACRE DEVELOPMENT – option a: current high-rise building plan – option B: high-rise, public connecting park and refurbished industry. The fourth scenario is based on the ongoing works in the North and South of the city (low and mild conflict areas correspondingly), where residential high-rise buildings are planned.
Option A presents this reality and shows how specifically the new buildings in the South would disrupt the views of the city significantly. The first view people have from the road and train when approaching Acre is the Old City cityscape, with its prominent elements, such as the mosque. Hence, this is a main element of urban heritage considered a hot element as per its visual importance (see Figure 24)Figure 25.
Option B keeps the residential high-rise buildings in the North, but it encourages the developers to promote mixed uses rather than just residential. The southern area, though, being currently an empty area between the industrial zone, Tel Akko, the beach and the western part of the city is proposed as a public park, emphasizing the connectivity between the north, the Old City and the southern areas. In addition, the factories in the south could be renovated and turned into housing, reactivating this zone and integrating it with the rest of the city. Also, tourism would be enhanced as the park would include Tel Akko, currently underused, promoting the tours around this archaeological element and a Baha'i tomb next to it (see Figure 25).
In the last scenario (see Figure 26), option A shows an extremely narrow approach, where the building of residential use is the main goal. Option B, alternatively, adds other components to the proposal. The use of existing heritage elements as the cornerstone for a connecting public space brings the social, environmental, cultural and economic values into the project and it also highlights the public space component.
3.1.2 Key stakeholder interviews
Participatory processes are not generally included in Israeli Urban planning and design, therefore, to assess how different design projects are perceived by the diversity of communities it is the key to understand the views by some of their representatives. The selected method is Semi-structured interviews, where the common questions are used as guidance to promote a conversation on the topic.
188.8.131.52 Participant selection
The interviewees were selected according to two main principles to guarantee representativeness: diversity (in terms of sector, age, mother tongue, gender …) and availability and accessibility. Nevertheless, it must be noted that there were some limitations with regards to the selection. On the one hand, the mobility restrictions generated by the COVID-19 pandemic meant most interviews had to be done remotely (on Zoom), therefore, the participants needed to be acquainted with this technology. On the other, the remote interview format demanded a straightforward communication strategy, so the language barrier, usually solved through a translator, was sorted out by narrowing the participants to those who spoke English. Yet, in the case of the representative of Acre Women's Association a translator was used.
To guarantee that a variety of sectors are represented first, the agencies with management authority in Acre were considered: Acre Municipality , Old Acre Development company LTD , Israeli Land Administration , National Housing Company (AMIDAR) , Israeli Antiquities Authority ,and the District Planning Bureau .
Representatives from most of the above, as well as other members of the civil society and private sector, meet everymonth in the Akko Conservation Committee, a working group which is responsible for accepting and declining the projects to be executed in the Old City. Therefore, this was the main group addressed to volunteer for the interviews. After the first sorting, the least represented sectors were reached out to guarantee diversity within the aforementioned limitations. These included other members of the civil society, like a local NGO (Acre Women's Association) (see Table 1). The final participant list was the following:
184.108.40.206 Interview structure
Pre-interview work was carried out regarding the content, length, accessibility and visuals. Carrying the interviews out in Zoom had a huge impact on the presentation of the questions. The visuals had to be readable by non-architects and the language of the questions simplified to be understood by non-native English speakers. Finally, the meetings were set up with the participants and the questionnaire shared in advance.
The actual interview consisted of 4 parts: (PART 0) a short presentation about the research and aims of the interview, (PART 1) the main questions on the perceptions on Acre, information about the represented institution, (PART 2) presentation and rating of the scenarios and (PART 3) feedback for the researcher (See Annex).
The main goal of PART 1 is to produce qualitative data about the vision and interest of each institution: their perceptions about heritage and what elements of heritage they consider relevant, problematic, or irrelevant.
PART 2, by contrast, is more specific as it uses the scenarios to portray diverse situations for the city. This section aims to obtain qualitative data on the interviewees understanding about the scenarios, the relatability to their institutions and obtain feedback to improve the scenarios. Moreover, the scenario evaluation provides quantitative data to facilitate the comparison between stakeholders' responses.
Post-interview work included the transcription of the interviews, compilation of answers through a matrix building and a comparison between the responses to extract conclusions.
3.2 Results from the scenario analysis
The results from the interviews about the scenarios aspire to offer a better understanding about the potential of adaptive reuse of urban heritage as a planning tool to support inclusiveness and heterogeneity and manage conflicts of interest. These offer a deeper grasp on how different actors perceive Acre's functioning, their idea and materialization of inclusiveness and other aspects related to urban design. In order to extract relevant conclusions, firstly, the quantitative evaluation provided by each participant is analysed separately, focusing on the commonalities and differences between the participants regarding the following criteria:
Relevancy of the project for the city,
Relevancy of the project for your institutional vision,
Inclusiveness of the project and
Secondly, the overall answers are observed to find the points of agreement and disagreement, showcasing where the conflict of interest and value prioritization lay.
3.2.1 Scenario 1 – AQUEDUCT
All the participants agreed that this scenario was relevant for the city, but just the institution represented by #02 (The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS)) would find this project relevant for their agenda. There was also some agreement about the inclusiveness of the scenario, #01 (District Planning Bureau (DPB)) clarified that it would be much more inclusive for the beneficiaries around and linked to the proposed public space than for the users of it.
When I worked in the Israeli Antiquities Authority 15 years ago, we proposed a similar route along the Aqueduct from Cabri to Akko, because there are very interesting sites along it. […], this is not in the Old City, it is the modern city, but it could be really fantastic. Crossing not just different neighbourhoods, but different communities. You are actually stitching it through the potential of tourism.
Extract of the Interview with #01 (DPB)
Regarding its feasibility #02 (SPIHS), #04 (local) and also #01 (DPB) were the most positive, while #03 (Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA)) and #05 (Acre Women's Association (AWA)) remained more neutral. The main reason for this difference was the doubtfulness about the allocation of budget for its implementation, as they both think it would not be a priority for the city (see Table 2).
The enthusiasm which all the participants welcomed Scenario 1 must be highlighted, mainly for the following reasons: it would solve a long-lasting recurring issue of disconnection due to the railway, the need to seam different neighbourhoods in Acre through a common element and the need for more public and green spaces in the city.
In this case, most participants supported the social, cultural and environmental values brought by the proposal. The conservation and readaptation of urban heritage was seen as secondary for the non-conservation participants (#04 (local) and #05 (AWA)), who by contrast emphasized the need to truly include all the residents of Acre in the project. In all the cases, tourism was seen as a by-product of the intervention and all the participants emphasized the need to have the citizenship as the target users.
3.2.2 Scenario 2 – AL-JAZZER MOSQUE AREA
Scenario number 2 generated different reactions, yet, all agreed that Option B should not be carried out, as emptying the Old City of its residents would ruin it. They all highlighted the uniqueness of the Old City of Acre as a living historic centre and in many cases, they compared it with Jaffa, in Tel Aviv, which is being gentrified and it is losing its essence, an aspect not desired for Acre (see Table 3).
Option A was mostly welcome by #04 (local) and #05 (AWA), local residents, who agreed on the need for more basic services in the Old City. #02 (SPIHS) and #03 (IAA) did not find this option very relevant for the city or their institutions, as they both focus more on the conservation of the tangible elements and less in the social needs, tackled by the Municipality. These four participants found this option highly inclusive, but most of them agreed that the basic services should be scattered around the city instead of centralized and doubted about its feasibility, in terms of economic resources, risk of gentrification and low-income population exclusion.
The representative for the District Planning Bureau #01 (DPB), responded differently, providing a rating for an alternative solution which would locate the basic services scattered in the place where the accommodation is proposed in Option B, while not moving the residents from the Old City. He stated that this A+B option with modifications would be the middle ground.
Option B was massively rejected, yet the conversation around the issue of tourism was fundamental to address the Old City. #02 (SPIHS) and #04 (local) rated this option really low. The representative of the Israeli Antiquities Authority #03 (IAA), by contrast, emphasized that such a project would be very relevant for the city, yet the IAA would not be involved, as they work for conservation. She found this option neutrally inclusive, in the same way as option A, as she observes that in both cases some people are and some are not included. In this case it is interesting to highlight, how #03 (IAA) and #02 (SPIHS), similar to #01 (DPB), provided alternatives which do not consider moving the residents out and include the basic services in addition to the touristic approach.
Hypothetically I would take the symbols from option B and replace them with the colours of option A. I think that moving people out of Akko and both options would create a lot of problems; although it would be very positive for the buildings, as this intervention would keep the buildings for longer time.
Extract of the Interview with #03 (IAA)
3.2.3 Scenario 3 – Marina/port of Acre
The third scenario presented two opposite options, local and tourism oriented. Similar to Scenario 2, all the participants welcomed option A, as it focuses on the local residents, it is slightly intrusive and they found it relevant for the city and highly feasible (see Table 4).
Option B, on the other hand, was seen as relevant for the city, due to the latest mass tourism trends (pre-COVID times) and for that same reason highly feasible for the District Planning Bureau and the IAA, but not much for #02 (SPIHS) and #04 (local) who stated how the local residents would not support it. In terms of inclusiveness, #01 (DPB), #02 (SPIHS) and #04 (local) rated the scenario very low, while #03 (IAA) explained that focusing on tourism would promote local employment and residents would still use the port; so, from her observations it would also be inclusive. In any case, all the participants proposed a scenario alternative consisting on the addition of some of the touristic uses into the local oriented option B.
Tourists are visitors, you do not let visitors to your house redecorate the living room.
– Extract of the interview with #02 (SPIHS)
3.2.4 Scenario 4 – north and south Acre development
The last scenario, number 4, included a detail which differentiated it from the others, the fact that Option A is an actual scenario implemented in the city. Therefore, the perceptions about it are based on real experience. This highlights the urge to assess the urban design processes as almost all of the participants had a negative impression about it. #04 (local), #05 (AWA) and #02 (SPIHS) found these interventions irrelevant for the city, as they were based on just economic interest; and the social, environmental or cultural impacts of it were not taken into account. Moreover, they perceived it very negatively for the city's development, as these do not integrate socially and physically in Acre. The latter is most obvious in the southern part, as the visual impact is excessive. #01 (DPB) and #03 (IAA) provided a different vision, as they see the urgency for residential use and how the availability of space in these two zones encourages developers to proceed. They both agree that this could be done differently by including other aspects, rather than just the economic (see Table 5).
Option B, was positively accepted by the district (DPB), SPIHS and the IAA. The three agreed that it was highly relevant for the city and the institutions they work for and they highlighted its inclusiveness. In terms of feasibility, they agreed on the fact that money allocation would be fine, but some institutions would not find it a priority and would oppose its implementation. #04 (local), by contrast, found it not too relevant and neutrally inclusive, as he doubted about the inclusion of all the residents of Acre in such a project, clarifying that it could be easily gentrified or more Israeli and tourist oriented. Yet, he found it very feasible, as it is aligned with the municipality's interests.
I would not build high-rise; I would do low fabric buildings until 5 or 6 stories maximum. And I would also include more connections to the city, instead of closing the neighbourhood, as they always do.
– Extract from the interview with #04 (local)
3.2.5 All scenario overviews
In order to identify the points of agreement and disagreement and consequently the sources of conflict of interest, the rating is evaluated in two ways: first, the number of times the participants agreed on the rating of a scenario are counted (See Table 6).
Secondly, a radar plot is created for each participant (See Figure 27), following the same criteria as the previous radar plots (See 220.127.116.11 Design Criteria – Themes). To do so, the answers provided during the interviews and the scenario rating are taken into consideration and compared to each scenario radar plot. For example, if one participant voted 5 for the four evaluation criteria, it means that they fully agree to the characteristics of the scenario, so their radar plot will be close to the Scenario 1. Yet, if they vote low for another, it means they do not agree to the characteristics of the scenario, so the radar plot will be opposite to the scenario one.
There are obvious pairs of people agreeing related to the sector they work for, or their origin. In the case of #04 and #05, who share 14 answers and almost the same radar plot, they share a similar vision from that of the locals, specifically the Palestinian population; therefore they stand for more social and local oriented scenarios.
The other pair who highly agrees is #04 and #02, sharing 17 answers. In this case, it is interesting to see how the NGO's interests align with the local's point of view. Actually, the radar plot shows minor differences regarding the interest in the social, environmental and public space aspects. Yet, they highly differ in tourism interest, emphasizing how locals do not prioritise tourism over their own needs, while other organizations take it into consideration as part of their overall strategy.
The representatives of similar sectors: #03 (IAA) and #01 (DPB) from public institutions; and #03 and #02 (SIPHS), from the heritage sector, also agree, but much less (9 and 8 times accordingly). The fact that they represent conservation institutions and have an architecture and urban planning background plays in their favour. The points in common revolve around their vision on conservation and partially about tourism.
Yet, if we look at these three representatives, there are some disagreements regarding tourism-oriented options. This is linked to the values and priorities pursued by their organizations, being the district more Master Plan oriented with a holistic view of the area, where the economics play a fundamental role; while the IAA and SPIHS represent a more social and conservation-oriented institution, where cultural heritage stands before tourism.
Another point of disagreement is between the IAA, #03 and the locals, #04 and #05. This result is surprising as the IAA works for conservation in the Old City and plays a key role mediating between the local communities and other public institutions. The explanation to this unexpected outcome could be the different approach to the concepts of inclusiveness, feasibility and relevancy which are rated in a least extreme way by #03 and very polarized by #04 and #05. As it can be observed in the table and radar plot, the locals go for extreme rating (5 or 1, 10–9 or 2–1 accordingly). Another reason could be manifestation of the existing gap between the local and the institutional perceptions.
In general, all the participants show a similar interest in the reuse of existing infrastructure and the use or improvement of public space is seen as positive. However, there are opposing views when it comes to the interest in constructing more residential buildings: locals mostly are against and the other institutions do not have it as a main point in their agenda. Something similar happens regarding tourism, we can observe different approaches to it, being it highly important for the district, the IAA and SPIHS, while not a priority for the locals. Another point of difference is the connectivity, which is only relevant for those with an architectural background. Finally, regardless of environmental issues not being explicit in the scenarios, all the participants have a high consideration towards environmental matters. This point opens the floor to further research on the matter.
The framework provided by the HUL Recommendation is this paper's starting point and it has proven to be a challenging tool to go beyond the historic ensemble and respond in a multi-level way to urban issues. The multi-layered mapping exercise, the emphasis in having a multi-stakeholder participatory approach and the main role adaptive reuse and urban heritage play in the understanding of conflict of interests in the WH city of Acre, showcase the complexity of the HUL approach and the need to integrate holistic approaches in the decision-making processes. This is the key to adequately respond to the multiplicity of dissonant voices, to address the local needs and demands and also adjust to the societal changes and safeguard the cultural heritage.
The approach proposed in this paper manages to address the inclusiveness with an innovative methodology which responds to the fact that the urban design processes in the analysed country are not inclusive per se. Trying to evaluate inclusiveness through scenario building and interviews could be replicated in other cases and the outcomes could help foresee adaptive reuse projects.
The replicability of this methodology is possible thanks to the low number of steps and that most of the methods are analogical and need human skills, rather than digital. However, the pre-work needed to gather the participants can be tedious and, in some cases, impossible due to complex societal configurations and the inaccessibility to some institutions. In the same way, the first step in the methodology (cultural mapping) requires some digital knowledge and access to public data, again, depending on the context; this could limit its success.
The results extracted from the ensemble of scenarios show trends regarding the preferences in land use, values and other urban aspects. The largest consensus was brought by public use, social value, enhancement of the local economies, with a strong highlight in the importance of tourism. Connectivity is a desirable urban design principle and even though the environmental benefits of greenery are valued, other criteria such as the benefits for the local economies are prioritized. Very drastic changes in the physical buildings are seen as too invasive; so smaller changes or changes in use are welcome; however, for large-scale changes public elements are preferable, being the residential use a reason for disagreement. Therefore, the residential use needs to be implemented but considering other strategies apart from high-rise buildings, such as building reuse, or transforming industrial buildings into residential.
In terms of the institutional and local perceptions some considerations should be made. The local population is usually more conservative towards any change, therefore including a social approach in the adaptive reuse intervention is more likely to be accepted by the locals. Moreover, acknowledging the gap between the institutional perception and views about the city and the locals' is fundamental, being this point particularly present in the language used to refer to concepts like heritage, history and conservation. Therefore, an effort must be done to understand what these abstract concepts mean for different communities. When approaching a conservation project an initial assessment on how the element to be intervened is seen and valued by different communities is needed (ex: Tel Akko). The use of trade-offs seems as a reasonable strategy to reach everyone.
Altogether, the proposed approach presents an alternative strategy to tackle urban issues and ease decision-making processes. Addressing inclusiveness through scenarios which are theoretical, easily supports urban design processes as it manages to go beyond the local realities and political constraints, providing an opportunity to explore the potential of adaptive reuse of urban heritage. Moreover, the inclusion of cultural mapping in the process unveils the multiplicity of urban layers and is the key to link the disconnected layers in the city enhanced by heterogeneity.
|Participant code||Institution/Job position||Sector||Age range||Sex||Mother tongue|
|#01||District Planning Bureau: Representative of the North Galilee, Golan and Western Galilee||PUBLIC/PLANNING||35–50||Male||Hebrew|
|#02||The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS)1: Regional Director of Haifa and Western Galilee District and Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites in Israel||CIVIL SOCIETY/HERITAGE||50–65||Female||Hebrew|
|#03||Israeli Antiquities Authority: City Architect (until March 2022)||PUBLIC/HERITAGE||35–50||Female||Hebrew|
|#04||Architect and teacher at university born in Acre||ACADEMIC/LOCAL||20–35||Male||Arabic|
|#05||Acre Women's Association2: Representative||CIVIL SOCIETY/LOCAL||>80||Female||Arabic|
Note(s): 1The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS) - An independent non-profit organization established in 1984 that works to locate, restore and preserve heritage sites across Israel. Its main objective is to raise public awareness of historic sites, restore and preserve them and develop and operate visitor centres throughout Israel; 2Acre Women's Association – This non-profit, unaffiliated community-based organization was registered in 1976 with the vision to help Palestinian women in Israel to develop their own perspectives on life and on themselves, so that they may become emotionally and psychologically confident, socially involved and economically independent to enter the field of work and education. To do so, they support Palestinian women in Israel in the transition from a traditional society to a modern one; they support their skills development so that they can become independent and confident members of society. In a similar way, they promote the development of early childhood education structures and programs within the Palestinian community, they also invest in services aimed at improving the living conditions of Acre's Palestinian community; and they ensure that the imagery and positive practice of Palestinian Arab culture is transferred to future generations
Scenario 1 - Rating from 1 to 5 (least to most)
Scenario 2 - Rating from 1 to 5 (least to most)
Scenario 3 - Rating from 1 to 5 (least to most)
Scenario 4 - Rating from 1 to 5 (least to most)
Compilation of Scenario evaluation – Rating from 1 to 5 (least to most)
Artificial freshwater ponds constructed along the Israeli coast utilizing the natural lowering of the land and the soil impermeable properties.
The population distribution disaggregated by religion is the following: Total citizens - 49,380; Jews - 29,369 (59.5%); Muslim - 15,829 (32%); Others - 4,182 (8.5%). Out of the 15,829 Muslim, 15,038 (95%) live in the Old City.
Acre Municipality – The municipal authority entrusted with the everyday maintenance of the city (taxes, sanitation, health, water, waste disposal and electricity). The municipality is also entrusted with approving all plans regarding the city. In effect beginning of September 25, part of the everyday maintenance will be transferred to the Old Acre Development company LTD.
Old Acre Development company LTD – Entrusted with a mandate from the ministry of tourism to develop and advance the city as a tourist attraction. Inside the old city the company can build hotels, museums, shops and restaurants, with authorized plans and rent out any property it so wishes. The company also enhances the infrastructure of the city and develops new touristic routes in the city. Beginning of September 25, the company will be responsible for most of the everyday maintenance in the old city, after a successful two-year trial period.
Israeli Land Administration – The major owner in the old city of Acre (85% of the houses in the city), it is also responsible for a part of the budget for the city mainly for the removal danger.
National Housing Company (AMIDAR) – The company is the representative of the owner (the land administration) in some of houses in the old city of Acre. The major part of AMIDAR is to collect the rent fees from the tenants and pass it on to the land administration and to deal with the renting contracts. AMIDAR is also responsible for the structural maintenance of the houses, which is carried out by surveying and treatment according to the Antiquities Authority Specification Demands.
Israeli Antiquities Authority – The Antiquities Authority is responsible for enforcing the Antiquities law with regards to archaeological excavations and conservation.
District Planning Bureau – The District Planning Bureau deals with all the issues related to planning, regulation and monitoring. Its main tasks include initiating and promoting national, regional and local master plans, developing and overseeing national planning projects, handling detailed plans, promulgating planning regulations and providing professional guidance to district planners and district planning employees.
The following document presents an overview of the questions to be asked during the interview. The participants are interviewed in the context of the PhD research by Ana Jayone Yarza Pérez on Adaptive Reuse of Urban Heritage in Contested Societies, the case study of Acre.
PART 0 | INTRO
Brief explanation about the interview: phases, consent form, recording, any questions or doubts before starting.
Brief presentation on my research: Adaptive Reuse of Urban Heritage In Contested Societies. The case study of Acre.
PART 1 | VISION ON ACRE
How would you define the city of Acre in 3 words?
Which elements of the city do you consider to be the most representative and should not be changed? Why?
Which elements do you consider could/should be changed? Why?
What are the core values of the institution you represent/work for?
What are the priorities of the institution you represent/work for in Acre? How does the institution you represent/work for support the city?
Which 3 main issues does the institution you represent/work for address in Acre? Why?
Do you have any examples of successful projects or initiatives in the city by the institution you represent/work for, or others?
In the following maps you can see elements of urban heritage of Acre in different periods of history:
o Please choose the elements of urban heritage which are still relevant nowadays and those which are not relevant anymore.
Could you please justify your answers?
o For each of them could you specify the following:
Who do you think values these elements? Why? (ex: local residents, tourists, specific communities …)
Are these elements being neglected by anyone (institutions, certain communities, tourists …)? How are they being neglected?
Do you think that an intervention/project by the institution you represent/work for could improve these neglected elements for better?
How would you (the institution you represent/work for) change them so that they become relevant, valued and used by the citizens and tourists?
PART 2 | SCENARIOS
I would like to show you some hypothetical scenarios proposed for the city of Acre related to Adaptive Reuse of Urban Heritage.
SCENARIO 1 – Aqueduct
SCENARIO 2 – Al-Jazzer Mosque Area
SCENARIO 3 – Marina/Port of Acre
SCENARIO 4 – South of Acre
Please rate 1 to 5 (1 least, 5 most) the following themes:
o Relevancy of the project for the city: does it tackle important and urgent issues?
o Relevancy of the project for your institutional vision: does it address issues related to the work of your institution?
Could you please justify your answers?
o Inclusiveness of the project (Is everyone going to benefit from this intervention? Is anyone being neglected?)
Could you please justify your answer?
o Feasibility of the project
Availability of economic resources to implement the project
Level of priority for the institution you represent/work for
Level of priority for the citizenship
Could you please justify your answers?
What are the contributions of each scenario for the city of Acre?
What are the issues each scenario may generate in Acre?
Which improvements would you propose for each scenario, so that they are more aligned with your institutional vision?
PART 3 | FEEDBACK AND QUESTIONS
After responding to the interview questions, do you identify any issues that are missing in my research that should be included? Which ones?
Do you have any advice/suggestions on how to improve the research?
Do you have any questions?
Would you like to add any comments?
Final remarks: thanks, data management, follow up …
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Funding: This research is conducted as part of the HERILAND project. HERILAND is a pan-European research and training network on cultural heritage in relation to Spatial Planning and Design. It is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 813883.