The UNESCO Chair on Historic Urban Landscapes and Heritage Impact Assessments was established by UNESCO decision in April 2022 at RheinMain University of Applied Sciences in the Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering. It is the only UNESCO Chair in Hesse and the only UNESCO Chair at a university of applied sciences in Germany. The chairholder is Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Kloos.
The main objective of the UNESCO Chair is to support the preservation and sustainable development of historic urban landscapes, especially when they are under high pressure to change and are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Such urban areas are facing many and often controversial practical questions about their historical substance. To provide target-oriented and solution-oriented suggestions, the UNESCO Chair combines expertise on planning, managing and evaluating projects at UNESCO World Heritage sites and develops strategies for conflict prevention and mediation. The UNESCO Chair focuses on practice-oriented research, teaching and knowledge transfer.
Safeguarding cultural heritage in urban agglomerations can only succeed if it is considered a key component of current urban development. It is therefore an interdisciplinary task per se. This interdisciplinary approach is also an essential building block of the Architectural Heritage Conservation program as well as the field of Safeguarding and Sustainable Development of Historic Urban and Cultural Landscapes to which the UNESCO Chair is affiliated. It is also expressed by the fact that nine other colleagues from various degree programs in the Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering are integrated into the concept of the UNESCO Chair. This combines the existing know-how for research and provides new ideas for teaching and international cooperation.
- Prof. Dr. techn. Dipl.-Ing. mag. Cristian Abrihan / Project development in historical context
- M.A. Baharak Ashrafi / Research Research assistant and doctoral candidate
- Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anne Bantelmann-Betz / Preservation of historical monuments
- Prof. Dr.-Ing. André Bruns / Mobility management and traffic planning
- Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christoph Duppel / Construction in a historical context
- Prof. Dr.-Ing. Georg Ebbing / Theory of architecture and design
- Prof. Dr. Matthias Kowald / Mobility behaviour
- Prof. Dr. Manfred Loidold / Geoinformatics and surveying
- Prof. Dr.-Ing. Corinna Rohn / Architectural history, architectural recording, architectural conservation and conversion
The UNESCO Chair is part of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chair Program, which was established by UNESCO in 1992 to promote the implementation of UNESCO's educational and scientific goals. In Germany, this program is coordinated by the German Commission for UNESCO. UNESCO Chairs are distinguished by outstanding research and teaching in UNESCO's fields of action. The principles of their activities include international networking, especially in the North-South and North-South-South areas, and the promotion of intercultural dialog. UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN networks contribute to a more balanced creation, dissemination and application of knowledge worldwide to promote sustainable development. In the UNESCO Chairs network, more than 750 UNESCO Chairs and over 40 UNITWIN networks in more than 116 countries currently cooperate to anchor UNESCO's goals in science and education.
In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Agenda 2030, which sets out 17 Sustainable Developement Goals (SDG) as global development guidelines. This Global Sustainability Agenda is the guiding principle of the German UNESCO Chairs. The international network of UNESCO Chairs with their special profiles in research and teaching contributes to the implementation of the sustainability agenda.
The network of UNESCO Chairs in Germany is characterized by both natural and cultural sciences. All UNESCO Chairs in Germany focus on SDG 4 – Quality Education for Sustainable Development. The UNESCO Chair on Historic Urban Landscapes and Heritage Impact Assessments also focuses its research and teaching on SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities.
The aim of the World Heritage Convention is to identify and protect the most important natural and cultural heritage of humankind. With the World Heritage Convention , UNESCO has created the most comprehensive international legal agreement ever adopted by the international community of nations for the preservation of their joint cultural and natural heritage. The World Heritage Convention first came into operation on 17 December 1975 and is an international convention between member states and the United Nations. Up to now, 194 states have signed the Convention, which means that in principle it can be considered to be valid worldwide. Since then, more than 1,100 UNESCO World Heritage sites have been inscribed to the World Heritage List.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List to ensure their preservation for future generations. More than 1,100 UNESCO World Heritage sites are now protected under the World Heritage Convention. The composition of the World Heritage List is extremely diverse, encompassing cultural and natural heritage sites. All World Heritage sites have one thing in common, their Outstanding Universal Value, meaning that they are of great significance not only for national or local communities, but for all humankind. The protection and sustainable conservation of these sites is thus the responsibility of the entire international community. It is ensured through the implementation of the instrument that is central to cultural policy and nature conservation – the World Heritage Convention.
The contextual research and teaching framework of the UNESCO Chair on Historic Urban Landscapes and Heritage Impact Assessments is the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape adopted by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 2011. This statement (36 C / Resolution 41, 2011) is based on the recognition of the multi-layered nature of urban World Heritage sites and incorporates tangible as well as intangible values. The term "historic center" or "ensemble" is expanded to include urban contextualization: open spaces and gardens, visual references, economic, social and cultural processes are included. Literally, it states:
„The historic urban landscape is the urban area defined as the result of a historic layering of cultural and natural values and attributes, extending beyond the notion of ‘historic centre’ or ‘ensemble’, to include the broader urban context or geographical setting. This wider context includes notably the site’s topography, geomorphology, hydrology and natural features, its built environment, both historic and contemporary, its infrastructures above and below ground, its open spaces and gardens, its land use patterns and spatial organization, perceptions and visual relationships, as well as all other elements of the urban structure. It also includes social and cultural practices and values, economic processes and the intangible dimensions of heritage as related to diversity and identity.“ (UNESCO, 2011)
Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) have been requested by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for several years to evaluate and assess transformations in World Heritage sites and the consequences for their Outstanding Universal Value. The World Heritage Committee's advisory bodies, IUCN (World Natural Heritage Sites) and ICOMOS (World Heritage Sites) can also provide recommendations on how to conduct such studies. Cultural heritage impact assessments explicitly address the specifics of the value system of World Heritage sites, especially the Outstanding Universal Value or World Heritage criteria.
ICOMOS International has developed a guideline for the implementation of cultural heritage impact assessments in World Heritage sites, the Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties 2011. Recently, the new resource manual Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessment in a World Heritage Context was developed by UNESCO and the advisory bodies to the World Heritage Committee, ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN.