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Synergies and Frictions between Mega-events and Local Urban Heritage

Zachary Jones

Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy

ABSTRACT  Increasingly, cities have turned to mega-events as part of strategies to secure much desired global recognition and attract future economic investment. These events have a broad range of physical effects on the city and can also introduce new concepts of the city. For historic cities, mega-events can potentially have a profound influence on the city’s urban heritage, both physically and how heritage comes to be understood and defined. Recent changing trends in mega-events could come to see them more closely integrated into the existing city fabric, making the potential impact of mega-events on built heritage more pronounced. One long-standing event embedded within the city fabric that serves as a noteworthy example is the European Capital of Culture (ECoC), operating for 30 years and travelling between more than 50 cities. The paper presents the European Capital of Cultures of Genoa 2004, Liverpool 2008 and Istanbul 2010 as three diverse cases with differing themes and roles for heritage in order to review the potential synergy or friction between events and heritage and calls for heritage actors to become more involved in these processes.

KEYWORDS  urban heritage, heritage management, mega-events, European Capital of Culture, comparative case-study, Genoa, Liverpool, Istanbul

Received May 5, 2017; accepted November 10, 2017.

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