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Whose heritage? Determining values of modern public spaces in Canada

Claudine Déom (School of Architecture, University of Montreal, Montréal, Canada)
Nicole Valois (School of Urbanism and Landscape Architecture, University of Montreal, Montréal, Canada)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 9 January 2020

Issue publication date: 19 March 2020




The purpose of this paper is to explore the heritage value of modern public spaces designed by landscape architects in Canada.


The two-pronged research first aimed to verify if evaluation criteria currently used by heritage practitioners could apply to those public spaces. The second research area developed deals with social value. Here, the publicness of public spaces was used to broaden the scope of potential heritage values so as to include one that relates to the appreciation communicated by those who use them. Field enquiries were conducted to capture this social value.


The results of the enquiries demonstrate that identifying a social value can be a delicate process. Not only is it a lengthy endeavour, but opinions about the reasons why a place is important can differ amongst users. Public spaces provide us with a valuable reminder about the need to strike a balance between the evolution according to the needs and the desire of users and the conservation of traditional heritage values understood through historical associations and aesthetics.


This exploratory research was the opportunity to deepen the understanding of what is entailed when referring to social value in heritage conservation processes. It also helped to demonstrate the importance for landscape architects to integrate the field of heritage conservation. Landscape architects are natural allies with the field of heritage conservation’s new paradigm discussed in this paper by which human values are increasingly the focus of conservation instead of the fabric.



This research was funded by the Government of Canada (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada).


Déom, C. and Valois, N. (2020), "Whose heritage? Determining values of modern public spaces in Canada", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 189-206.



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