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Preserving the Story of Heritage in Ruins Using Online Digital Repositories; The Case of Urbex

  • Eisazadeh, Negin
  • Bordalejo, Barbara
Publication Date
May 01, 2017
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Urban explorers have for some time been producing informal iconographic and textual records of manmade structures which because of being abandoned or inaccessible for the general public, are not usually in the public eye and are often in a state of deterioration and in danger of being destroyed. This interdisciplinary research which connects the fields of architecture, history, conservation, and digital humanities, looks into the materials recorded by the urban exploration (urbex) community and investigates their potential for the protection and documentation of decaying or demolished abandoned architectural heritage sites. For the management and dissemination of heritage information for the abandoned sites, more specifically, the recently demolished Château de Noisy, a famous urbex destination in Belgium, this study explores and builds upon the existing digital resources and looks into various tools and techniques to compile, curate and present this data to narrate the story of abandoned heritage sites. Additionally, through visualisation of data collected, cleaned, and compiled using the Flickr application programming interface (Flickr API) and Python, the changes in the urbex community’s activity since their debut on Flickr are observed. This research shows the value of the existing urbex digital data for documentation and potential conservation of abandoned heritage sites and demonstrates how a mindful digital narration of even a demolished heritage site can create an engaging and immersive experience which records and preserves the heritage and its story. Additionally, it can raise public awareness which in the case of deteriorating abandoned sites can lead to their potential revival.

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