Franco Chinese Seminar on the development of ancient towns

2019-12-29 22:02| Editor: IICC| view: 32| comment: 0|Source: 亚太遗产中心

Summaryuuuuuu: December 18, 2019, the seminar on the development of the Jiangnan ancient water towns with the French small towns of character association (Association des Petites Cités de Caractère -- PCC) was held

December 18, 2019, the seminar on the development of the Jiangnan ancient water towns with the French small towns of character association (Association des Petites Cités de Caractère -- PCC) was held by WHITRAP Shanghai in Lili town, Wujiang district, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province. Representatives from the smallwater towns of Lili, Jinxi, Zhouzhuang, Xitang, Tongli, Zhenze, Zhujiajiao,Jinze, Luxu, Nanxun and Qiandeng, representatives of the Executive Committee of Yangtze River Delta ecological green integrated development demonstration zone,and the representatives of China Academy of Urban Planning and Design (Shanghai) – more than 60 participants all -- attended the seminar.


The objective of the seminar was to create a dialogue between French mayors and Chinese leaders and different stakeholders on urban conservation and small town development by sharing experiences, discussing practical solutions to key problems. The aim was to discuss the role and function of heritage today in relation to an integrated, ecological sustainable development strategy. It explored how small historic towns can promote their heritage and revitalize their urban functions attract new residents and focus on their well-beings.


Several topics were addressed such as giving new functions to historic buildings, imagining new activities in and outside historic towns, inventing new economic models and developing economic diversity. The cross-cutting theme was exploring how heritage can be a driver for the development of small towns and their surrounding territories. PCC highlighted how the networkof small towns allowed them to strengthen their capacities and benefit from each other so “1+1 greater than 2”.

Presentations of PCC

△Group Photo

Chaired by

LU Wei

Executive Deputy Director, WHITRAP Shanghai

Speaker

Roger Bataille

Vice Diector of PCC and Mayor of Ervy-le-Chatel


Making historic cities more attractive:

why, for whom, how and with what benefits


Roger Bataille recalled that, during the economic boom after World War II, what is called the Golden Years -- the Trente Glorieuses in French, large areas of historical urban fabric were demolished under the pressure of new urban construction and modern development. The historic value of urban areas was not acknowledged at the time, in particularin small towns. Today the heritage value is considered, but the challenge is to build upon cultural values, on local assets to develop small towns in a different way. To achieve this the PCC network focus on three main lines. The first one is to help the town leaders and administration to balance protection and development, promote a new type of economic development based on heritage values. Addressing modern needs and safeguarding heritage are not incompatible. By cooperating with the cultural, urban planning and design, construction administrations as well as tourism departments, every town can be provided with technical supports to achieve this goal of sustainable urban development. The second line is the tourism economy – by promoting sustainable tourism by establishing a PCC brand focusing on quality. Quality versus quantity, to respect the well being of residents and ensure tourist have a quality experience. The third line is to build up a cooperative partnership between the small towns of the network. All PCC members adopt shared principles by following the guidelines of a charter, so as to shape a dynamic town network and concentrate on their specific and unique existing resources.



Laurent Mazurier

Director of PCC

Introduction for the branding, communication and promotion tools of PCC

Laurent Mazurier explained the “three PCC promises for tourists”: Firstly, the heritage of each town is authentic and living. Secondly, each town has its unique character. Thirdly, each tourist is provided with a high-quality and unique experience and enabled to share and experiment real and authentic French life.

He also mentioned the PCC experience – promoting the PCC by providing high quality and various activities and events and communication with different stakeholders are the keys to guarantee the vitality of the town network.

Presentations

Theme 1

“New life for historic buildings --- new functions and services”











Benoit Lauriou

Mayor of Pont-Croix, France









Case study:

New medical centre created in a historic building in Pont-Croix.

Benoit Lauriou shared the experience of developing a new medical center in a disused historic building in Pont-Croix and showcased the multiple benefits and outcomes of such an initiative. He explained how this project not only provided the local residents with the medical service they needed but also allowed to save a major historic building by giving it a new function. It ensured the necessary funding for a high-quality restoration respectful of the building, integrity and authenticity. Such an initiative had a multiplier effect as the new medical centre not only addressed the needs of the inhabitants of Pont-Croix but attracted new residents to the town interested in on site amenities or short-term visitors from neighboring towns which did not have access to such services locally. The implementation of this project was only possible because different stakeholders cooperated together. Benoit Lauriou also referred to another example following the same rational, the development of social housing in another disused historic building. Both cases show how reusing heritage can ensure historic towns are living and dynamic settlements adapted to contemporary needs and how reusing historic buildings and historic areas can also curb urban sprawl and thus contribute to a more sustainable urban development.



Roger Bataille

Vice President of PCC,

Mayor of Ervy-le-Chatel, France



Case study:

Creation of a stain glass art centre in Ervy-le-Chatel


Roger Bataille presented the creation of a stain glass arts center in Ervy-le-Chatel in a former disused prison. He explained why this small town had very important Renaissance period stained glass windows, developed by Italian artists attracted by wealthy merchants when Ervy-le-Chatel was a then thriving commercial hub on the Champagne Fair route. The new Center interacts with the local community, local residents participate, events, visiting tours, workshop and art competitions.

The Center is also a tool to promote and revitalize stained glass craftsmanship by supporting artists and craftsmen and promoting modern design. This project benefited the town by strengthening the local cultural identity influencing crafts and ensuring the promotion of the town and its project through the use of social media. He also emphasized that enhancing heritage gives the opportunity to the towns to improve.



Theme 2

“New activities in and outside of towns”






Benoit Lauriou

Mayor of Pont-Croix, France





Case study:

Development of slow tourism and outdoors activities in natural and rural environments

Example: Pointe du Raz Great Site of France area.


Benoit Lauriou presented the primary purpose of the “Grand site de France” and its rational to protect biodiversity and cultural and natural heritage, as well as the landscape to create a pleasant environment for local residents and tourists. Considering the problem of excessive tourism, he explained the large scale heritage enhancement project he was involved in as his town Pont-Croix is an entry point to the Site and as he is a member of the management board of the Site. The management project integrated the requirements of heritage protection and economic development, through the promotion for example of outdoor activities, and by installing corresponding services and facilities. Supporting the development of a variety of new activities is a way to spread out tourists flows and visitors as well as developing a new relationship to the natural environment. When people engage with their environment they become caretakers of a site rather than consumers. Furthermore, these new outdoor activities allowed the development of a series of new locally based businesses.





Laurent Mazurier

Director of PCC







Case study:

New ways of discovering historic towns and their environment: trails and thematic routes


Laurent Mazurier gave an overview of the development of thematic and cultural routes and the shift from car focused routes to the development of hiking trails and bicycle routes. He explained how the changes in tourism trends had a great impact on urban management and the wider setting of ancient towns. Today number of tourists favor slow tourism. With the continuous growth of the tourism market, Laurent Mazurier indicated that the small towns could promote their character and uniqueness to address the desire of tourists for something different. Small towns should become alternative destinations and become a destination and stopover of cultural routes by designing new itineraries, developing trails and thematic routes as well as favoring alternative transport modes. In this way, we could integrate new services, develop new forms of travel, alternative transport modes and promote new ways for tourists to explore the specific culture of towns and cities.



Theme 3

“Develop Economic Diversity and Create New Economic Modes”




Benoit Lauriou

Mayor of Pont-Croix, France





Case study:

Maintaining black bee pollination methods and black wheat production


  Benoit Lauriou presented a project aiming at protecting biodiversity and enhancing local products. He explained how protecting a variety of bees, the black bee allowed to redevelop the production of black wheat. This rejuvenated an industrial chain of production and processing activities and revived an endangered traditional agricultural system. Protecting the bee, reviving an agricultural system contributed to redeveloping the economy. The Grand Site de France, a label for the protection of cultural and natural sites allows this kind of initiatives. This again is an example of how protecting and promoting biodiversity contributes to safeguarding tangible and intangible heritage values.





Laurent Mazurier

Director of PCC






Case study:

Guerande town and surrounding area: salt production and valorization of a natural and cultural landscape


Laurent Mazurier introduced the importance of assisting small town development through technology, knowledge and promoting high quality products. Through the promotion of the Guérand sea salt and its traditional production method, through a proactive marketing strategy, the local Guérande sea salt became a reference for high-end gastronomic restaurants. Furthermore, the traditional Guérande salt production, traditional craftsmanship, the Guerande area’s very specific and unique environment and landscape as well as its history attracted a large number of tourists. Through reviving local industries, the traditional skills are revived and enhanced. Salt workers are now valorized. Salt production today is an important income generating activity and supports the economic vitality of Guérande. Small historic towns can redevelop their economy through the enhancement of traditional crafts and agricultural products of high quality and with high added value. However, due to the fragility of the salt marches, Guérande Town must address tourism management to maintain this unique environment.









Alain Marinos

PCC National Representative









Case study:

Digital buisness : «Third places», start up hubs


Alain Marinos introduced the concept of "Third Place". He highlighted issues are similar in France and in China today, young people from small towns are attracted by big cities, therefore, the population of small towns decreases and count more and more old people. Small ancient towns can’t be rejuvenated by tourism only, a mono activity economic model is not sustainable. These third places allow people to live in their homes towns, or attract young people back because working spaces or services and amenities are provided. This is the key to improving the quality of people's lives. Because they contribute to improving urban development, many cities and towns and even villages develop such places. With the increasing development of China, third spaces can contribute to the revitalization of small town. We can hope there will be more. This is a great opportunity for China.


Presentations of Jiangnan Water Towns


Zhouzhuang

Zhuang Chundi


Fomer Mayor of Zhouzhuang Town

Guest Professor of Tongji University

Lili

Ling Fen


University Director of the Management Committee for Protection and Development of Lili Ancient Town


Zhuang Chundi explains that Zhouzhuang started its urban conservation planning policy in 1983 to protect the authenticity and integrity of the ancient water town. After several decades of development, Zhouzhuang became “the Top Water Town in China". However, because of its success Zhouzhuang has become overcrowded in peak season. The challenge today is to manage the tourist flow. The town opted for a strategy to spread out tourist in space and time and developed the "Night Zhouzhuang" concept, which encourages tourist to enjoy the water town at night by providing evening event sand enhancing the charm of the night time scenic quality of Zhouzhuang. This is a great success.

Company management, public participation, and the participation of people in developing businesses to help solve employment issues are the strategies for the protection and development of the ancient town of Zhouzhuang. Zhuang Chundi said that ‘culture’ must be understood, listened to, be seen, be tasted and be shared. The protection of Zhouzhuang’s culture should also contribute to the improvement of the local resident’s livelihood and quality of life. This is the real life of Zhouzhuang which he wants to share and present to the French participants.


Ling Fen indicated that the great variety of businesses, convenient transport modes and its rich and long-standing history is the key to Lili’s development. She emphasized that the protection of the town’s architectural heritage contributes to the town’s good success today, but the further strategy is to develop a cultural industry at a larger scale and at the regional level. She hopes Lili, along with the surrounding ancient towns, could support and enhance each other in the context of the Demonstration area in the Yangtze River Delta on ecologically friendly development.


Discussion

△Discussion


The final session of the meeting was a discussion between Chinese and French guests chaired by Prof. Zhou Jian and Francoise Ged, the head of the Observatoire de la Chine Contemporaine de la Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (a center for the study and promotionof Chinese contemporary architecture) a long standing partner of WHITRAP. The discussion allowed for a lively debate between participants on new approaches to economic development, environmental protection, cultural identity and on the processes small town can follow to achieve their goals. Françoise Ged kicked off the debated by asking participants what was their approach regarding local inhabitants and improving their quality of life.



Q&A


Ling Gangqiang

Deputy President of Lili NPC

How does Pont-Croix achieve to implement a green economy policy while preserving heritage?

Benoit Lauriou

Mayor of Pont-Croix, France

The first step is to protect heritage and consider its values as assets. Environmental protection, heritage protection supports the development of a green economy. Saving and promoting local raw materials for example and reducing the transportation of building materials is a way to develop an environment friendly policy. Regarding green energy, traditional building techniques, historic buildings have a high energy saving potential because they are adapted to their environment. We can learn from heritage. We have such skills currently to provide modern comfort requirements by respecting heritage.



Ling Gangqiang

Deputy President of Lili NPC

The purpose of the protection of ancient towns is to ensure the livability of the urban environment for local residents, to strengthen cultural identity, and to implement a people focused management to protect the local communities’ environment. This is the best protection for the culture of ancient towns. What do the French participants think about this?

Laurent Mazurier

Director of PCC

I agree with you. Residents may have a different understanding of what is heritage, what is significant for them varies, so their opinions must be taken into account when defining what should be protected. In some cases the residents are the ones who request more protection, to extend for example the boundaries of a protected area.



Zhou Jian

Secretary-General of WHITRAP and Director of WHITRAP Shanghai

The first lesson learned from the PCC experience is that PCC have a comprehensive approach to conservation, with clear objectives that lead to defining clear strategies and policies. Secondly, they pay much attention to the use of local resources while promoting the establishment of local residents' cultural identity. Ancient small town share a lot in common and in particular their belonging to the same territory with a historic inter connection. It is not enough to just brand the Jiangnan water towns. It is necessary to highlight the characteristics of each ancient town and to recognize the important role of residents during this process. In addition, it’s crucial to attract young people to return to the ancient towns to ensure that ancient towns no longer be considered as rural or development areas, but a high-quality living environments.

Zhuang Chundi

Former Mayor of Zhouzhuang Town and Guest Professor of Tongji University

Because the water towns in the south of the Yangtze River Delta have similar cultural origins, therefore the ancient towns have a certain degree of homogeneity. We must learn from PCC policy to provide amenities for local residents while giving tourists multiple new experiences. We should as well explore local characteristics of each ancient town and develop their own unique cultural identity and significance.

Alain Marinos

National Representative of PCC

Indeed, homogenization of small towns is also a problem in France. I think we should offer more possibilities within development strategies today rather than focus only on the past. It’s the same for the protection of historical buildings. The original function of a building does not have to be fully preserved, new functions may bring new vitality. It is also applicable to China to increase the personality of small towns through different projects.



Francoise Ged

Head of the Observatoire de l'architecture de la Chine contemporaine

I would like to know more from Benoit Lauriou about your experience and opinions on the issue of "retro-innovation".

Benoit Lauriou

Mayor of Pont-Croix, France

I would like to share my own experience of continuing my father’s business and operating the family run old grain mill. When my father encouraged me to take over and suggested to modernize the mill and install new machines, I decided on the contrary to revert back to the traditional technology of my grandfather’s time and get rid of the modern machines of my father’s generation. I then explored how to develop the milling activity within a niche market. Today, this family business is one of the most upscale flour suppliers in France. I would like to stress that innovation does not have to be based on new technology but on the contrary it can be based on traditional know how and skills, heritage can be also an effective driver of innovation. I call that “retro-innovation”.



Chen Chaolin

Member of Fenhu High-tech Zonework committee of Communist Party of China, Deputy Director of Fenhu Gaoxin administrationof Communist Party of China

I would like to ask French participants about the balance between input and output in the development of French small towns of character, namely who is the main funding body, how to generate funds, what is the return on investment, and how to maintain sustainable returns.

Roger Bataille

Vice-president of PCC and Mayor of Ervy-le-Chatel

Implementing projects in small towns mainly depends on the local government’s funding and raising funds capacity. Most of the major local projects are public facilities, mostly funded by public funds either from the local government, the region orthe central government, or through large investment programs for large scale projects, or through EU funds that need to be applied for. The main goal of public projects is to increase regional vitality, with the objective of improving the quality life of local residents and improving the environment and also support private investment.

Laurent Mazurier

Director of PCC

As we all know, France has a considerable built heritage, which is expensive to maintain, and is difficult to safeguard only through public funding. Therefore, 50% of the funding comes from private investment. The central or local government can lease historic buildings at preferential prices to private entities with the requirement to restore, maintain historic buildings according to strict national and local guidelines. The private sector can contribute to preserving heritage and develop their economic activities and ensure a positive return on investment.



Liu Feng

Head of the Executive Committee of Yangtze River Delta Ecological Green Integrated Development Demonstration Zone

I highly agree with Laurent Mazuier’s presentation where he explained the “three PCC promises for the tourists”.

At a similar scale, China's water town should learn from PCC. Firstly we should learn from the experience of the development of small scale towns in France, secondly we should further explore the characteristics and define the unique significance and values of our own ancient towns. If cultural heritage is to support a cultural economy, local governments should focus on improving the quality life of local residents while optimizing the tourist experience, but also allow citizens and tourists to benefit from heritage protection and economic development. There is a long way to go to make this come true.


Conclusion

Finally, Professor Zhou Jian, Secretary-General of WHITRAP, wrapped up the meeting and proposed a way forward before delivering the closing remarks:


First of all, the purpose of this meeting is to support the integration of the water towns in the south of the Yangtze River with their cultural resources and jointly promote the development of the Yangtze River Delta ecological green integration.

Secondly, we have to think about what the characteristics of each ancient town is, not where the characteristics of Jiangnan Water Towns are.

Lastly,under the "The integration development of Yangtze Delta” national strategy, we should allocate reasonable and efficient resources, to ensure the enhancement and improvement of people’s quality of life.

Shot Capture

Group photo of French Participants

1

2

3


4

5

6


Site Visits

In the afternoon of December 17th and the morning of 18th, French participants visited the ancient towns of Xitang and Luxu. The local representatives presented the local environment and cultural characteristics of those ancient water towns, and further explained the protection status and development strategies of these two ancient towns.



Xitang


Luxu


-END-


Author:Zhang Zhuo, Dong Anqi

Translator:Marie-Noel Tournoux

Editor:Ye Yuanyuan

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