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Urban Heritage as Ethos in Resource-Based Small-Scale Property Management

Journal article
Authors Ingrid Martins Holmberg
Published in Sustainability
Volume 11
Issue 19
ISSN 2071-1050
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Conservation
Language en
Keywords urban heritage; resource management; entanglements; factual life-span; small property owner
Subject categories Ethnography, Area economics, Architecture, Settlement studies, Other materials science, Architectural conservation and restoration


This study puts urban heritage in the setting of property owners’ small-scale and resource-based management of ordinary old buildings. This phenomenon indicates a need not only to reconceptualize urban heritage in its actual complex web of negotiations over constraints of the regulation (urban planning, including preservation) and economy (the real estate market) but also to pay attention to the emergence of a new ethos. The case concerns a Swedish second-city context and the specific moment in time: When the 1990s recession had disarmed the real estate market. Based upon ethnographic fieldwork, this study used an assemblage perspective to allow for a following of entanglements of material and matter. The study sheds light upon the emergence of a small-scale and resource-based management in the midst of managerially defined cycles of investment. Important for the output was 1) the set-up of a network of skilled craftsmen, antiquarians, and entrepreneurs ‘of the right mindset that enabled for the authentic material result but that also helped navigate regulation and financial parties, 2) the “alternative market for reverential maintenance and repair” that guaranteed the appropriate supply of materials, products, and skills that differed from the mainstream construction market. For the means of understanding the ethos involved, the study introduced the notion of “factual life-span of buildings”. The overall aim of this article was to contribute to research on heritage urbanism by adding a resource management perspective that focusses on the entanglements of material and matter.

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