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Mitigating tensions between ethics and aesthetics through community-led adaptive heritage reuse: the case of post-industrial Praga, Warsaw

Karim van Knippenberg (Department of Civil Engineering, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium)
Beitske Boonstra (Department of Public Administration and Sociology∕Public Administration, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands) (Department of Civil Engineering, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 28 November 2022

17

Abstract

Purpose

Heritage reuse, in which the aesthetics of heritage play a leading role, often leads to extreme commodification of heritage, place branding, gentrification and the exclusion of many narratives and voices. In order to understand how such processes of erosion and estrangement between heritage and local communities can be countered, while still redeveloping heritage buildings for contemporary urban needs, this paper explores with what kind of practices and heritage approaches these tensions can be mitigated, learning from recent experiences in Praga district.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on qualitative semi-structured interviews in a case study of a living lab of ongoing heritage reuse practice in Praga district in the city of Warsaw, Poland, the authors identify practices and approaches that can help to overcome tensions between the ethics and aesthetics of heritage reuse.

Findings

In rapidly changing district like Praga, local communities and others are struggling to compete process of change that impact their heritage, and the engagement with it. Although the local community is quite active in addressing various urban challenges and preserving the character of Praga including heritage elements, the conditions under which these community-led heritage reuse practices operate are quite impactful, as it appears that cooperation with local institutions is vital in order to embed community-led heritage reuse practices to overcome the tensions between ethics and aesthetics of heritage reuse.

Originality/value

This paper presents an in-depth analysis of a living lab of community-led heritage reuse. As such, the paper highlights various practices of community organizations and citizen initiatives that address heritage reuse, as well as the conditions under which these initiatives operate.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank their OpenHeritage colleagues from Praga, Katarzyna Sadowy, Maciej Czeredys and Dominika Brodowicz who helped them tremendously with the data collection processes.

Funding: This work was supported by the European project OpenHeritage – Organizing, Promoting and Enabling Heritage Re-use through Inclusion, Technology, Access, Governance and Empowerment. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No [776766].

Citation

van Knippenberg, K. and Boonstra, B. (2022), "Mitigating tensions between ethics and aesthetics through community-led adaptive heritage reuse: the case of post-industrial Praga, Warsaw", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHMSD-06-2022-0105

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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