Building Sustainable Historic Centres
A Comparative Approach for Innovative Urban Projects
Since the 1980s, the promotion of heritage values has gradually become a relevant issue for urban planning. Together with the emergence of new peripheries, inner-city areas and particularly old historic centres, affected by deterioration due to the recession of the last decades, have been the object of study and actions. Consequently, the need to turn the historic centres into areas of development for the market, through legislative measures and investments in infrastructure and services, and the re-evaluation of the heritage value of existing buildings, oscillated between policies which, linked to the mechanisms of economic and cultural globalization, promoted tourism as a source of revenue while striving to find alternatives to gentrification. The renewed priority given to the development of inner-city areas, centred round the rehabilitation of their historic values and central nature, has generated innovative operating modes in the urban environment that seek to reconcile the challenges of modernity, particularly in regard to social inequalities with those of the past, and to rethink the central role of historic centres, their relations with the city and their development in terms of sustainability. The goal of our contribution is to gain a better understanding of the major challenges of the rehabilitation of historic centres within the framework of ‘innovative’ approaches to urban planning, aiming at promoting sustainable living conditions. The analysis is based on an ongoing comparative and transdisciplinary research project, in which the decision-making processes of concrete interventions for the rehabilitation of inner-areas with heritage value are being analyzed in different cities of the world: Buenos Aires, La Havana and Bangkok. The main questions that arose in our analysis concern the contexts allowing for innovation, focusing on those institutional arrangements, which, as modes of governance, were introduced in the interventions, studied.