The Cultural Heritage Technologies for Sustainable Cities Project (2020-2021) builds an interdisciplinary network to address contemporary challenges for urban cultural heritage in fast-developing cities like Istanbul.
In 2020 the Netherlands Institute in Turkey received a grant from the NWO Science Diplomacy Fund for the Cultural Heritage Technologies for Sustainable Cities project. The funding enables us to build a network of specialists in cultural heritage, ICT and urban planning, and public engagement from institutions in the Netherlands and Turkey and to explore methods and best practices to integrate these specializations to address contemporary challenges for urban cultural heritage.
Participating scholars are affiliated with a number of academic institutions, including the Netherlands Institute in Turkey, Leiden University, Leiden/Delft/Erasmus Center for Global Heritage and Development, Maastricht University, Technical University Eindhoven, Radboud University Nijmegen, Mustafa Kemal University, Istanbul Technical University and the University of Central Florida.
The project is conducted in collaboration with the Netherlands Consulate-General in Istanbul and will work together with heritage authorities and organizations.
The project will focus on Istanbul’s rich water-related heritage, which includes everything from aqueducts, cisterns and water distribution points to sacred springs, hammams and fountains, and that cross-cuts historical periods, ethnic communities and urban-nature boundaries. In an initial pilot project conducted in late 2020 and early 2021, the newly formed network takes the Valens aqueduct bridge as its focus. This is a major 971 m-long landmark in the old city that dominates the skyline between the third and fourth hills of historical Constantinople. It was originally built in the fourth century AD and functioned, with interruptions, during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
Beyond the brief NWO-SDF project, a longer-term goal of this network is to stimulate the development of ICT-based tools and practices that help ensure that urban cultural heritage is integrated in sustainable and livable cities. Such tools and practices can include the development of virtual and augmented reality applications to show the multilayered history of buildings and places and their social uses over time, data mining of social media to study values attached by residents and tourists to different heritage sites, the engagement of urban communities in the documentation of sites, or the participation of residents in heritage-based planning and urban design challenges.
An aerial view of Valens Aqueduct (photographer: M. Erem Çalıkoğlu), SALT Research (uri: https://archives.saltresearch.org/handle/123456789/7105). Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.