The CITY-SIS is a five year strategic research project organized by the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (2016-2020). Seven researchers and the project coordinator are at the moment participating in the research group.

Two main research questions are guiding the project:

  1. How can the city’s cultural heritage be a resource in today’s and tomorrow’s city planning?
  2. How can the objective of safeguarding the city’s cultural heritage values best be combined with the broader objective of climate adapted and sustainable urban development, cultural diversity and prosperity?

The research taking place has a double objective: on the one hand it aims to pinpoint the role cultural heritage can play in city transformation and mediate the importance of this role to city planners and heritage managers. On the other hand, it aims to reach out to a broader group of the city’s users to mediate how the urban cultural heritage can be managed and used in a sustainable way for future generations.

The research is motivated by the rapid urban transformation that are taking place today and the effects these major transformations can have on urban cultural heritage. Urban transformation can represent both challenges and opportunities for cultural heritage.

The cities that will prosper in the future are those that can handle change and have the capacity to adapt to new needs while at the same time activating their long-term memory as a vital resource. Politicians and planners regularly make decisions on which existing structures and archaeological remains must give way to new land use, and which should be protected for the future.

Urban heritage frequently appears in policy papers and strategic documents, where it is generally described in positive terms and portrayed as a historic asset in need of long-term safeguarding. In everyday planning practice, cultural heritage may be neglected in favour of developments claimed to be better suited to modern economic conditions.

There are, however, examples of municipalities where cultural heritage have been prioritized and have been assigned the role as vital community resource. Research on how urban heritage can be a community resource will help to stimulate dialogue and interaction, as well as increasing the understanding of how urban heritage contributes to making cities attractive places to live and to visit.

Prison wallThe old prison wall has become an integral part a police station in Oslo,. Its also marked in today's passing street.
Fra utgravningen ved bispeborgen i Oslo
Urban archaeologyArchaeologist at work at the excavation in Oslo's Old Town.

The project is organised in three work packages; the first WP focuses on public space and place-identity; the second WP on the effects on urban heritage of planning for the compact city; the third WP on the time-depth dimension as a resource in contemporary city.

Five sub-projects are carried out at the moment (2018):

  • “Street art and heritage conservation: from values to performativity” (Laima Nomeikaite)
  • “Densification, Sustainable Development and Urban Heritage” (Joar Skrede & Sveinung K. Berg)
  • “The Temporal Dimension in Planning for the Compact City” (Grete Swensen).
  • “Perception, dissemination and use of medieval ruins and in situ museums in Oslo and Trondheim”  (Vibeke Martens, Julian Cadamarteri & Véronique Simon).
  • “Enable the Deep City in Urban Design: The planning and reception of a ruinous building in downtown Oslo, Norway” (Torgrim Guttormsen & Véronique Simon)

The research group is interdisciplinary with participants from the social sciences and the humanities (archaeology, architecture, ethnology, geography, sociology). The research is related to the wide critical cultural heritage literature and the theoretical-methodological issues raised here. Common methods within the humanities and social science disciplines will be applied (discourse analysis, case studies, interviews, observations, etc.).

Through its knowledge building capacity. the research in the CITY-SIS intends to strengthen NIKU’s ability to influence today’s decision makers by providing research that clarifies the importance of paying attention to the historical dimension before significant decisions concerning urban development are made.

NIKU, April 2018

Grete Swensen

Do you have any questions?

Get in touch with Grete Swensen, the project leader for the CITY-SIS.

Contact Grete