PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to illustrate the relevance of Cultural Heritage Inventories and Documentation as critical tools for heritage conservation and management in historic cities, through the case study of the historic city of Ahmadabad, India. Design/methodology/approachThe paper discusses the creation of inventories as part of the comprehensive documentation undertaken for preparation of the World Heritage nomination dossier. In this context, the goal of preserving the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the historic city formed the basis for selection and assessment of the assets to be included in the inventory. Standard processes and methodology employed for creation of the database involved archival research and planning; field surveys for mapping, photo documentation and data collection; data registration and processing using CAD, Ms Office and Geographic Information System (GIS) based digital platform. Optimal data acquisition while maintaining cost and time efficiency was an important consideration for the fieldwork.FindingsWhile an inventory remains a critical conservation tool, the heritage assets are integrally linked to and influenced by their surroundings in an urban context. A comprehensive documentation approach that provides a broader understanding of the city’s natural features, built environment, heritage resources, cultural practices, and socio-economic networks is therefore necessary for creation of a suitable management plan for historic cities. Traditional field surveys based on external visual observation are time and cost effective, and can generate adequate information on identification and assessment of built heritage assets for creation of inventory along with documentation of their context. However, the scale of investigation and the intended role of an inventory as an urban management tool calls for creation of integrated, accessible and updatable data management systems like GIS.Research limitations/implicationsAt the moment, the database created is only used for the limited purpose of monitoring and managing the conservation of listed properties. The importance of the inventory as a critical conservation and urban management tool can be further validated once the GIS database of the historic city is integrated within the urban management and planning system for the city. Originality/valueThe inventory created for the historic city of Ahmadabad offers one of the few examples of heritage documentation at such a large scale. It covers an area of 543 ha with a detailed inventory of more than 6000 properties. The description of, and the reflections on the process employed provide an overview of usual challenges encountered in creation, presentation and management of heritage inventories for historic cities which may offer useful guidelines to practitioners planning similar exercises and help them establish efficient work processes.
Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 15, 2016