Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Built Heritage and the Cultural Landscape

El Patrimonio Edificado y los Paisajes Culturales: Identidad Y Desarollo

Valeria Prieto
ICOMOS - Mexico

Vernacular architecture can be seen in traditional buildings which is the built context of historical cities. An entire village, for instance, is a perfect example of how vernacular constructions are integrated as a whole. In this setting, the natural environment reflects a community’s main productive activity.

Examples of traditional villages that show a close relationship with nature are as follows:
1. The Arizona Desert
2. Juchitan, Mexico
3. Zimbabwe
4. Danjia village in China
5. Water towns South of the Yangtze River
6. Tlacotalpan on the Papaloapan River in the Gulf of Mexico
7. Tomonoura, Uwayima and Uchiko, in Japan
8. Cosalá on the Pacific coast of Mexico
9. The Mayan House at The Yucatan San Antonio Tierras Blancas, Michoacan, Mexico Peninsula

While it is fortunate that there are still groups which have preserved their built traditions and their natural landscape, the last few years saw living heritage sites experiencing pressures of development. Cultural landscapes and vernacular architecture have been damaged along with the emergence of urban areas and new industrial construction materials. To be able to keep up with the constantly changing environment, it is important to study the whole problem and integrate heritage with the community’s customs and traditions. Environmental care must not be neglected. The key is to maintain the cultural landscape as it is integrated to vernacular settlements. Most particularly, it is vital to help the community develop their social and economic potentials without sacrificing the identity and integrity of its people.

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