In the framework of the Italian PNRR funding, the PhD Program in Urban Planning, Design, and Policy at Politecnico di Milano issues one position on the “New methods of analysis and representation of transnational projects in heritage-rich areas” topic.


Cultural built heritage has become a key asset to enhance the image, tourist attrac­tiveness, and retail appeal of an area or an entire city. Key projects target heritage buildings and complexes and adapt their forms and functioning to generate and ex­tract economic value from places, their uses, and cultural meanings. While promising the physical conservation or restoration of built heritage, broader urban transformation pro­cesses sometimes become problematic for local communities. A certain level of discon­nect may derive from the high-level technical expertise (e.g. UNESCO and transnational architectural firms) and public interventions. Recent research demonstrated that in the last thirty years more than 400 projects by transnational firms were completed in UN­ESCO World Heritage Sites and their buff­er zones. Italy, the country with the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world (53 Cultural sites and 5 Natu­ral sites) now has substantial investments at stake, from the national recovery plan (PNRR) to dedicated lines in local and re­gional governments’ schemes.

While recent years have brought some gen­eral assessment regarding star architecture projects and started problematizing their relation to historic city centers, specific in-depth analysis and representations regard­ing transnational projects and agency is still missing in the international debate. In par­ticular, the complexity of multi-scalar projects that are generated by transnational networks of actors and international organization often emerge in terms of limited contextualization of interventions, disruption of heritage plac­es, and long-term negative effects for local communities.

Based on existing data bases and experi­mentation carried out the Politecnico di Mi­lano TAU-Lab, this project aims at developing and testing new methodologies (e.g., GIS, dynamic visualization techniques, multi-me­dia and AR/VR, digital models) for analyzing and representing potential opportunities and risks associated with the key heritage pro­jects and the related urban transformations.

For more information and to apply, please see this call document.