Architecture history plays an important role in defining the religion, culture, style, and identity of a place at a specific period. A historic building, like a fossil, is the most convincing evidence of once existing era as William Morris, one of the main contributors to the Arts and Crafts movement in England, said: “Thus, and thus only can we protect our ancient buildings, and hand them down instructive and venerable to those that come after us” (SPAB, 2018). Nowadays, with the expansion of urbanization at the global level, urban heritage management has encountered hesitance between conservation and redevelopment.

Natural Destruction

Urban heritage is categorized as immovable relics since it involves objects at a massive scale like historic sites and buildings. Thus, urban heritage management often faces challenges of climate change and natural disasters. The city of Pompeii was buried by the eruption of the nearby volcano Vesuvius around 79 AD. The ancient site remained frozen in time till discovered in 1748. At first, the excavation was carried out for the purpose of art collecting. By 2003, 44 of the 66 hectares of the area has been dug up. In the following years, the authority shifts the attention to restoring this ancient site rather than continuing with the excavation. In addition, it is claimed that the remains of Pompeii must be left under volcanic debris as an important lesson for future generations (Nappo, 2011).

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The site of Pompeii_©wirestock

Rising sea levels, one of the factors of climate change, are causing major damage to many coastal heritage sites in Africa. According to a research paper published by “Nature Climate Change” when examining 284 African heritage sites along the coastline, 20% of them “are currently exposed to a 1-in-100-year coastal extreme event” (Nature Climate Change, 2022, p. 256 – 262). Urban heritage management calls for new methods to adapt to the current problem of rising sea levels including both protection and defense mechanisms.

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The ruins of Tipasa in Algeria_©Jessica Holom

War Destruction

It is undeniable that the loss of innocent lives is the most tragic consequence of war. Besides, the destruction of urban heritage is listed as a war crime in terms of impairing national property. The middle east conflicts taking place since 2004 have induced serious damage to many historic sites in the cities of Syria. Urban heritage management focuses on post-war recovery for any historic site and architecture. The goal aims for the restoration of their original appearances and the preservation of their epoch-making values. To fulfill this desire, urban heritage management needs to come up with a rightful strategy following these basic steps: “Documentation – Damage assessment – Planning – Legal framework and regulations” (Belal, 2021).

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Krak des Chevaliers, a heritage site in Syria, under fire during the Syrian Civil War_©Syria963


In addition to their historical value, heritage sites also contribute to a country’s economy. Historical architecture has always attracted tourists from around the world. Typical examples include the ancient city of Egypt, the Forbidden City of China, the ancient capital of Japan – Kyoto, Classical Athens of Greece, etc. The list can go on for eternity since civilization has been through centuries of development and each era is unique in terms of culture, tradition, art, and architecture. Despite the economic benefit, there is a concern about achieving the balance of traveling expansion and sustainability. Urban heritage management is responsible for the lack of preservation policies in many historic areas.

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A medinet habu temple in Egypt_©wirestock
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Forbidden City in Beijing, China_©rawpixel
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Kinkakuji temple, one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto_©wirestock

It is suggested that the amount of tourist access should be limited for easy control of the site. Guards should be arranged in such a way that all visitors’ action is in sight. On the service users’ side, it is necessary to have basic information about the urban heritage published either on a website or at the site. This allows tourists to be acknowledged about the visiting area to avoid evitable mistakes. When it comes to tourism, urban heritage management needs to consider all involving aspects of the environment, economy, and society (Esmail, 2019).

Filming Location

As technology develops, green screens have made it possible for any desiring scenery in the cinematic field. However, nothing can compare with the actual landscape. A sense of authenticity, truth, and nakedness that only a real site can deliver to the audience. Especially those historical movies, being filmed at a heritage location is such an honor and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for any film crew. Director Manoj Vasudev was excited to be able to capture the Khajuraho temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the district of Madhya Pradesh’s Chahatarpurn, in his upcoming film “Khajuraho Dreams” (Mathews, 2023). Also, it is perhaps the first time this historic site has made an appearance on the big screen.

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Khajuraho temple site_©Aneta Ribarska UNESCO
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Poster of Khajuraho Dreams_©nowrunning

Despite the excitement to shoot at a historical area, there is permanent damage caused by film crews leading to the ban of film production teams at certain locations. The authorities decided on closing doors to film crews at the heritage site Melkote after the incident that a group of Telugu films was reported to polluting the temple tanks with a chemical rangoli powder (Daithota, 2021). This is a lesson for local urban heritage management. Director Manoj Vasudev shared that he struggled to get permission to shoot at the Khajuraho temple (Mathews, 2023). A lot of restrictions were still applied even after the sanction.

Yoga-Narasimha Temple in Melkote_©Philanthropist 1

Sense of Place

There is an argument that every city nowadays feels the same. “Non-place”, defined by the anthropologist Marc Auge, refers to the tedious uniformity of urban spaces. The debate about the intromission of contemporary architecture in heritage sites has been going on for a while and divided the public into two opposite sides. Evolution is unavoidable to adapt to the essential demands of the inhabitants. It is urban heritage management’s mission to maintain a sense of place in an area while catching up with the development of modern architecture.


Anderson, D. (2020) Why every city feels the same now, The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company. Available at: (Accessed: May 8, 2023). 

Belal, A. and Shcherbina, E. (2021) “Post-war planning for Urban Cultural Heritage Recovery,” E3S Web of Conferences, 263, p. 05054. Available at: 

Daithota , M. (2021) Heritage Site Melkote closes doors to film crews: Kannada Movie News – Times of India, The Times of India. TOI. Available at: (Accessed: May 8, 2023). 


Mathews, A. (2023) Khajuraho dreams is perhaps first film shot in the heritage site: Director Manoj Vasudev: Malayalam Movie News – Times of India, The Times of India. TOI. Available at: (Accessed: May 8, 2023). 

Nappo, S.C. (2011) History – ancient history in depth: Pompeii: Its discovery and preservation, BBC. BBC. Available at: (Accessed: May 7, 2023). 

The SPAB manifesto (2018) Available at: (Accessed: May 7, 2023). 

Vousdoukas, M.I. et al. (2022) “African heritage sites threatened as sea-level rise accelerates,” Nature Climate Change, 12(3), pp. 256–262. Available at: 


Vy Nguyen, is a senior student majoring in interior design, in love with East Asian architecture and philosophy. She is full of passion for art, literature, film and cats. The ocean is her home at heart and the whale is her spirit animal. Her latest focus includes architectural illustration, building material science and instant photography.