ABSTRACT

What is the value of a Conservation Plan, what is the origin of this mechanism, and what are its limitations? Are the descriptive and analytical frameworks established by the conservation profession able to communicate significance to stakeholders and participants, or only other professionals? What are the opportunities for structuring the voices who own a direct stake in heritage places and how can they become orchestrated effectively to revalue the everyday and the ordinary? Communities can be allowed to want what they have, rather than necessarily aiming for what is expected from a professionalised heritage industry. Starting from these questions, we look at the role of the Conservation Plan as the pre-eminent tool for understanding heritage and determining what is done with it. Through observation and de-layering of the rules that refined and define them, we aim to redefine the mechanics of conservation empathy, and address other possible ways to include community inputs that go beyond ‘professionalism’. In order to do so, we analyse three examples - Altab Ali Park (2012) in London by MUF art/architecture, the ‘Peoples Landscapes’ project for the National Trust (2019), and the art installation Ferramenta (2018) by American artist Theaster Gates are our case studies, dealing with strategies for reappropriating ostensibly ‘ordinary’ spaces and revealing their social significance in order to ask us what we do next.