Landscape 4 : Landschaftsideen Nordeuropas und die visuelle Integrität von Stadt- und Kulturlandschaften im UNESCO-Welterbe

  • Landscape 4 : landscape ideas in Northern Europe and the visual integrity of UNESCO World Heritage cultural and urban landscapes

Kloos, Michael; Wachten, Kunibert (Thesis advisor)

Aachen (2014)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Aachen, Techn. Hochsch., Diss., 2014


In recent years, a relatively large number of World Heritage properties in Northern Europe, especially the ones located in the context of urban agglomerations, witnessed discussions about their ‘visual integrity’. Such discussions, referring to significant modifications of city images or landscape scenery (e.g. due to the erection of high-rise tower blocks or new infrastructural elements), appeared often in large-scale properties, the ‘World Heritage Landscapes’. In particular, the case of the Waldschlösschen Bridge, which led to a long, extremely emotional and somewhat painful debate and eventually to the deletion of the World Heritage property ‘Dresden Elbe Valley’ from the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009, triggered an extremely high public attention. The PhD thesis ‘Landscape 4’ investigates the background of such questions about the ‘visual integrity’ of World Heritage properties on three different levels: The political background which led to the integration of landscapes as cultural heritage into the World Heritage programme, a detailed case study on the recent discussions about the visual Integrity of the World Heritage site Upper Middle Rhine Valley, and the historical background of the reception of the notion of landscape in Northern Europe. The investigation shows that the reasons for questions about the visual integrity of complex World Heritage properties on urban and regional scale very often do arise due to mistakes made during their nomination. In particular, stakeholders should be aware that inscription procedures of large-scale sites on the World Heritage List lead to very different expectations on various decision levels. Fuelled by the currently rising economical value of cultural heritage, especially due to the raising importance of mass tourism for cities and regions, ‘insiders’ with a strong relationship to local decision levels tend to see World Heritage nominations as a chance for a successful economical development for cities and regions. In contrary, ‘outsiders’ with a national and international background tend to stress the importance of the preservation and the conservation of such sites, their cityscapes and landscape scenery. As a result, the nomination of urban and cultural landscapes for the World Heritage List leads often to contradicting expectations on various decision levels. Against this background, the thesis provides recommendations concerning inscription processes, daily management and conflict management in Word Heritage properties. These recommendations are further elaborated in various case studies. Besides that, the PhD provides recommendations for future need in both fundamental and applied research.


  • Chair of Urban Design and Institute for Urban Design and European Urbanism [212410]