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TRADITIONAL DWELLINGS AND SETTLEMENTS REVIEW

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Volume 17.1

[REFRAMING] WORLD HERITAGE
Howaydah Al-Harithy 
This article critiques the concept of heritage preservation as currently practiced under the aegis of international agreements such as the 1972 UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.  Too often such efforts result in the internationalization of cultural monuments as frozen icons for tourist consumption.  Alternatively, heritage preservation may be used in nationalization campaigns that serve primarily political, not cultural, ends.  Effective heritage preservation should rather be multidisciplinary and socioeconomically sustainable, linked to the present cultural context of sites in which it occurs.  The article is based on close observation of recent work in the old city of Tripoli, Lebanon, and reference to other preservation efforts, particularly in Cairo, Egypt.  As a conclusion, it offers an alternative approach to preservation efforts, one that, in the case of Tripoli, would encourage the local population to engage in the continued production of its built heritage.

Vieques, Puerto Rico: From Devastation to Conservation and Back Again
Javier Arbona
This article proposes a reconsideration of the Vieques bombing range as a spearhead project to refocus the transformation of this Caribbean Island from a U.S. weapons storage and combat training site to a tourist destination.  The real “nature” of the island is today concealed by a carefully constructed camouflage.  Official sources promote the island’s landscape as representing untouched nature, preserved from development by its former military use.  But the island had a long history of agricultural use before the military took it over, and today’s supposed natural areas hide high levels of toxic contamination.  Nevertheless, a reassembled tableau communicates to visitors that they gaze at something original.  This theme is so strong it has even seduced those who came to Vieques to oppose the military presence.  Tourists of both strains today read an empty wilderness where residents of the island have no place, and where current problems with pollution and poverty can be ignored.  Reversing complacent attitudes may require a new look at the bombing range as a location of an alternative form of tourism. 

Globalization, Neoliberalism, and New Spaces of Capital in Cairo
Khaled Adham
The general globalization of Egyptian society and economy and the country’s transition to a free-market capitalist system by the late 1980s has led to the emergence around Cairo of “new” urban spaces such as gated communities, malls, and theme parks.  The production of these spaces has helped solidify a new urban economy that mirrors the consumption patterns of a dominant sector of elite Cairenes, who are establishing themselves in new areas on the periphery of the city.  In discussing the condition of these spaces and focusing on a selected case, this article aims to shed some light on the politics of producing such spaces in contemporary Cairo.

Orchard Road as Conduit: Between Nostalgia and Authenticity
Limin Hee
 
Through the frame of reference of a conduit or “flowing channel” (both literal and figurative), this article shows how Orchard Road juxtaposes many elements emblematic of Singapore’s post-traditional environment — the colonial legacy, present patterns of mass consumption, fascination with artificial spectacle, the symbolic economy, youth culture, Singaporean national identity, flows of global workers and tourists, locally historic architectural and landscape forms, underlying geography, and enlivening spatial practices.  The construction of Orchard Road as the main public space of the nation through a montage of these erstwhile or embedded elements provides insights to Singapore’s postglobal moment.  Three related issues focus the examination.  First is the collision of history, values, contemporary culture, and the symbolic economy — how are these represented or embodied in space?  Second is the division of space between global and local actors (and the formal and informal economy) — how do these different groups come together?  Third is the disjuncture of fragmented personal experience and memory with mass urban phenomena — what is the nature of nostalgia within the post-traditional environment, and how does this effect the sense of Orchard Road’s authenticity?

FIELD REPORT: 
Tourist Commodification of Residential Vernacular Architecture in Venice: Livability and Conservation in an Historic District
Robert Good
 
Gentrification occurs when affluent residents displace existing lower-income groups, bringing a significant reinvestment in the built environment.  This tie between architectural change and social continuity is managed in most historic cities through regulations that limit building conservation to basic issues of material stability.  However, this approach has had limited success in Venice, where housing quality is only one factor limiting access to housing by long-term residents.  Another, more widespread phenomenon is investment in the housing market by vacationers.  The resulting commodification of residential space in vernacular buildings has introduced architectural and contractual changes that threaten the historic qualities that support long-term resident livability.