Research Group Urban Heritage

Heritage Preservation in Shrinking Cities: Urban heritage preservation and revitalization of historic city centers in Saxony-Anhalt, process documentation and evaluation

Quedlinburg, Vacancy 2006, Graphic: Katrin Kanus-Sieber

Katrin Kanus-Sieber
M.Sc. in Heritage Management (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Hochschule Anhalt (FH) Dessau, Germany)

For the past two decades, great efforts have been made to revitalize and preserve the historic towns in former East Germany. At the same time, these cities have suffered from up to 30% decline in population. Urban planning and heritage preservation have to adjust their practices and planning tools to this development.

To evaluate the process of historic city center revitalization selected midsized cities, with comparable characteristics and located in the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, will be subject to an initial analysis of urban development and urban planning schemes. Processes in the past, the current situation and future tendencies will be described. The categorization of the cities will give a first impression of needs and possible adjustments in planning practice. A similar evaluation of the World Heritage city of Quedlinburg in 2006 showed that a mapping of vacant buildings and the state of restoration of buildings in the historic city center gives new insights on reasons for vacancies and disrepair. The four outstanding examples of historic townscapes in Quedlinburg, Wittenberg, Salzwedel and Naumburg will be mapped and compared. Furthermore, the continuous mapping as a possibility to monitor tendencies in city development will be discussed as a new tool. The monitoring of the World Heritage area in Quedlinburg, which has been examined in 2006 and 2008 and will further be examined in 2010, will reveal the fast changes in historic quarters under shrinking conditions.

Monitoring the development in historic districts is the precondition for sustainable city planning and heritage management within these areas. The main focus of sustainable future urban planning in shrinking societies in the western hemisphere will be the improvement of existing townscapes. Alongside better living conditions, unique characteristics with a high recognition value are needed for the identification of inhabitants with their townscape. Historic centers, as found in Saxony-Anhalt, are unique structures and, if properly preserved and imparted to future generations, have high potential to always attract people to live and work there.

April 2009