In all its multiple meanings the word heritage refers to what we inherit from the past, both in material and immaterial sense.
Some authors speak about heritage as a sense of past, meant as a form of past self-awareness, as a collective experience and as an essential dimension of a culture. Some other authors believe that the idea of heritage deals with the ability to put the contemporary human signs into a historical perspective, so developing a sense of place, that is the place’s value and meaning.
Therefore, heritage can be intended as a sense of past and sense of place together.
The heritage’s existence itself lies in the ability to read/interpret the sense of belonging of something inherited from the past to a specific place, as well as in the shared need to preserve and deliver it to future generations.
Heritage is one of the main drivers of contemporary tourism. The World Tourism Organization estimates that 40 percent of global journeys are cultural ones. The WTO itself defines cultural tourism as “a type of tourism activity in which the visitor’s essential motivation is to learn, discover, experience and consume the tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourism destination. These attractions/products relate to a set of distinctive material, intellectual, spiritual and emotional features of a society that encompasses arts and architecture, historical and cultural heritage, culinary heritage, literature, music, creative industries and the living cultures with their lifestyles, value systems, beliefs and traditions” (WTO, 2017). The term Heritage Tourism is meant to define that particular field of cultural tourism characterized by the interest in the specific heritage of a tourist destination, whether the heritage is material or immaterial, natural or cultural, minor or exceptional, already safeguarded or not.
In different ways, Heritage Tourism can be an important development engine and a crucial element in urban regeneration processes, but also a risk factor for the heritage and places’ preservation.
Starting from an idea of heritage meant as a sense of past and sense of place, the conference intends to reflect on Heritage Tourism. The knowledge of places and the designing perspective, at the architectural, urban and landscape scale, are considered interpretative keys for reading the potentialities as well as the critical issues linked to touristic heritage fruition. Can the architectural project offer new ways to interpret, read and understand heritage and heritagisation processes? How working on heritage in order to make it accessible without endangering it? What are the research tools and the designing operations we should rely on in order to strengthen the relationships between heritage and context? How can the architect’s gaze contribute to enhance places characterized by the presence of heritage, answering to the multiple and various needs demanded by locals and tourists?
Participants in the conference, through theoretical contributions as well as case-study presentations, will have the chance to discuss the forms the project may assume at the various scales in relation to the touristic fruition and promotion of places involved in heritagisation processes.