Better understanding the value of our heritage

Managing a historic city is about managing contradictions. A city’s heritage and historic assets, including its buildings and greenspaces for example, are valuable and important. But when it comes to planning and development, the value of such heritage is easily forgotten. In order to balance this, the city of Bordeaux went back to square one to understand exactly what heritage assets they had.

An interdisciplinary team of architects, urban planners and historians carried out a large-scale survey to identify and understand the architecture and urban complexes in need of conservation and the areas that could be developed.

Bordeaux world heritage site

In 2004, an interdisciplinary team of professionals in architecture, urban planning, history, art history and surveying was recruited to carry out a large-scale survey of the city’s heritage assets.

Similar to a conservation area assessment and ‘place brief’ in Scotland, this practice was integrated into local planning law in Bordeaux. Expectations for new developments are defined from the outset, an example of a more proactive approach to planning.

Bordeaux world heritage site
© Jeremy Buchholtz

The inventory of buildings and the subsequent changes in legislation ensured that heritage values were understood beyond architecture, to include important intangible memories associated with certain buildings and areas in the city.

Bordeaux world heritage site
© Jeremy Buchholtz

To understand the value of Bordeaux’s World Heritage Site, it was vital to understand and emphasise the roles played by people past and present in shaping their surroundings.

Bordeaux world heritage site
© Jeremy Buchholtz

For further information about Bordeaux, please visit our partners Week of World Heritage site:

World Heritage Site fact file

Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, including the Port de la Lune, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in June 2007.

At the heart of the inscription is Bordeaux’s status as an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble. It was created in the age of the Enlightenment, and those values persisted right through to the first half of the 20th century, with more protected buildings than any other French city outside Paris. For more than 2,000 years, it has been recognized for its historic role as a place of cultural exchange due to commercial links with the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

Urban plans and architectural ensembles of the early 18th century onwards have made Bordeaux an outstanding example of innovative classical and neoclassical trends and give it an exceptional urban and architectural unity and coherence. Its urban form represents the success of philosophers who wanted to make towns into melting pots of humanism, universality and culture.

Bordeaux land occupation

These data maps have been produced by A’Urba for Bordeaux Metropole. Within the AtlaS.WH partnership, Bordeaux was responsible for providing management tools to illustrate key land use data comparable between the five partner cities.

Bordeaux city datamap