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Guest lecturer discusses links between architecture, heritage and conservation

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

Heritage expert Dr. Mark Liu Xiao delivered on 5 November a guest lecture to Year 2 undergraduates from IFTM. The talk explored a number of heritage concepts and how they are intertwined with architecture and conservation.

Dr. Liu is Assistant Professor at the Macau University of Science and Technology. He specialises in architectural and urban design, and conservation and rehabilitation of cultural heritage.

The talk took place at the Grand Hall in the Forward Building, on the Taipa Campus. It was organised by IFTM academics Dr. Vicky Chen Zhaoyu and Mr. Kelvin Leong Ka Hou. The event was aimed at Year 2 students either on the Heritage Management Bachelor’s Degree Programme or on the Tourism Business Management programme, that are attending the Introduction to Heritage Management course.

During his presentation, Dr. Liu invited students to review critically their thinking on heritage, including how heritage is interpreted and valued. Such matters keenly affected decision-making processes linked to conservation work, he said.

“Heritage practices have evolved throughout time, as part of development,” explained Dr. Liu. He noted that economic and social progress impacted the way people valued – and therefore cared about – heritage.

The fact students were able actively to engage with Dr. Liu enhanced the benefit of the guest lecture. He elaborated on a number of concepts using simple yet clear examples, to make the topics covered easily understood by students.

‘Living’ heritage

The guest lecturer pointed out that heritage practices – and even the way particular concepts were understood and applied – varied significantly from place to place. These differences, he explained, reflected the unique local contexts of heritage practices across the world.

As part of his presentation, the academic highlighted that understanding the value and meaning of heritage was a prerequisite before undertaking any heritage conservation. He stressed that nowadays, promotion of ‘living’ heritage – i.e., ensuring historic buildings were kept in use under new roles, retaining social value – was a dominant practice in heritage conservation. Dr. Liu explained this often meant the original physical structure of historic buildings had to be reinforced and adapted through use of modern techniques. Such practice, he said, ensured heritage sites were safe and suitable for new functions, so as to retain social relevance and thus promote sustainable development.

One of the case studies mentioned by Dr. Liu in his talk was the process to raise to UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site status the West Lake Cultural Landscape, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. A critical part of that process was the restoration of the Leifeng Pagoda – a structure the beauty of which had served as a source of inspiration for poets, scholars and artists – noted Dr. Liu. He added the reconstruction contributed to ensuring the overall integrity of the cultural landscape of the West Lake.

To conclude the talk, Dr. Liu stressed that conservation work was not a final step in heritage management. It should be part of a continuous effort, he said.

Students in attendance stated the lecture had been a fruitful experience, stimulating them to advance their knowledge of heritage topics.

IFTM emphasises experience-based learning and the use of varied learning platforms. Arrangements are made for students to attend special talks with leading experts and industry executives. Through these activities they have the opportunity to improve their knowledge of the operations and development trends of the tourism and hospitality industry, and of the various prospects for each sector.

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