Cultural heritage and urban regeneration are parallel and complementary goals in a city's development roadmap. The Shanghai World Expo seeks to pursue both objectives and give expression to effective practical approaches. The 5 square kilometers Expo site completely renovates one part of the city's downtown area and will be the stage for the encounter and interaction of diverse and rich cultural practice and serve as an example for a constructive and productive dialogue and knowledge sharing - especially during 2010 which the UN General Assembly designated as the International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures,. Cultural diversity, cultural integration, the preservation and extension of cultural heritage are key dimensions of the cultural aspects that are so vital to the city and its regeneration - and for that matter for any city. In its rich diversity, culture has an intrinsic value both for development and for social cohesion and peace Cultural diversity and with it cultural heritage are therefore driving forces in development and means of leading a more satisfying intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life - especially also in cities.
Cities are a particularly precious category of cultural heritage with the most abundant content. The strengths of historic cities, their neighborhoods and their citizenry are best understood through their territorial relationships. These are expressed through viable community-based organizations, traditional resource and skill links, equitable land-use and land tenure systems, the quality of the built and urban environment, and a strong and sound settlement-nature relationship. These relationships are mainly intact in traditional urban neighborhoods of historic cities in Asia, but they find themselves under pressure from change due to increasing density, expansion and fragmentation.
Change is an inherent aspect of the urban condition and reality. Cities have to be re-created as attractive and productive places where people will want to live and work and where they will enjoy leisure, cultural pursuits and entertainment. The emergence of the eco-city concept adds an entirely new dimension to the challenge of urban regeneration. As regards historic and world heritage cities, they need their development, albeit more controlled and regulated, to preserve the spirit of the place and the site. Regeneration is key to historic cities - and it is to sustain and revive the cultural processes that have nurtured unique urban fabrics. As such, historic cities embody the opportunity of preserving heritage artifacts that are both the physical frameworks and expressions of social patterns and cultural traditions, and the dispensers of cultural identity, which in turn can be powerful drivers for wider urban growth and renewal.
As cities renovate, upgrade and gentrify their urban infrastructure and environment they need to pay special attention to the preservation of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the adaptation and innovation of the traditional culture and overall the integration and preservation of cultural diversity. The meaning of the physical spaces should be derived from and linked to the cultural roots and functions. Cities are magnets, yet all too often their potential remains untapped especially from the perspective of migrants. Diversity represents an economic factor for urban life and offers a great opportunity for inclusive urban governance.
Dates: 11-15 June 2010
Venue: Suzhou Taihu International Convention Center, Shanghai Expo Park
Hosted by: Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
State Administration of Cultural Heritage
Shanghai 2010 World Exposition Executive Committee
Suzhou Municipal Government