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Historic urban landscape: an approach for sustainable management in Cuenca (Ecuador)

Julia Rey-Perez (Historia, Teoría y Composición Arquitectónicas, Universidad de Sevilla Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura, Seville, Spain)
María Eugenia Siguencia Ávila (Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, Universidad de Cuenca, Cuenca, Ecuador)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 6 September 2017

Issue publication date: 18 September 2017




The purpose of this paper is to present a methodology developed on the basis of the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) notion applied for the city of Cuenca in Ecuador. The identification of cultural values – among all the actors involved in the city – draws up a series of sustainable urban development strategies.


This methodology is based on the city analysis from the local community and multiple disciplines such as geomorphology, environment, urban planning, historic cartography, architecture, archaeology, anthropology, and economy. Further qualitative data collection methods included 16 workshops with 168 citizens, specific surveys, mapping, and on-site observations. The challenge of this methodology is not only its implementation in the world heritage city of Cuenca in Ecuador, but also the integration of the management of the historic centre within the overall city development plan.


The application of the HUL concept has allowed the identification of a series of strategies for the urban development where the points of view coming from different stakeholders were gathered. The project reveals the existence of values and attributes, so far overlooked in the actual heritage management system. In addition, a Geographic Information System database has been created with all the information related to Cuenca with the possibility of making it available for the community in the future.

Research limitations/implications

The project has been developed within one year with scarce economic resources: that is the reason why the planned activities took longer than expected.

Social implications

Social participation has played a key role in the development of the project.


This research process in Cuenca has led to its incorporation as a Latin-American pilot city for a programme developed by the World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region.



This work was supported by Research Department of University of Cuenca (DIUC – Dirección de Investigación de la Universidad de Cuenca), in collaboration with Research Center of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of University of Cuenca (CINA – Centro de Investigación de la Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo de la Universidad de Cuenca), vlirCPM Research project (World Heritage City Preservation) and WHITRAP (World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO). First and foremost, the authors would like to thank the people who have participated in and facilitated this research, most notably, the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of University of Cuenca. The authors are thankful to the collaborators, experts, community and students who were part of the whole process, in special to Sebastián Astudillo, Juliana Forero, Silvia Auquilla, Soledad Moscoso, Paúl Moscoso, Edison Sinchi, Mauricio González, Alejandra, Peralta, María Paz Abad, Martín Pesántez, Fernanda Rojas, Darío Pintado, Gabriela García, Karina Rivera, Rosa Peralta, and Alicia Tenze. The authors also thank two anonymous reviewers for their generous and insightful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.


Rey-Perez, J. and Siguencia Ávila, M.E. (2017), "Historic urban landscape: an approach for sustainable management in Cuenca (Ecuador)", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 308-327.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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