Community involvement in the design processes for the adaptive reuse of difficult heritage sites. The case of former 19th century prisons in the United Kingdom

Vincenza Tafaro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


The research investigates and analyses interventions for the adaptive reuse of difficult heritage sites notably focusing on the reuse of former 19th century prisons in the United Kingdom with key attention to community involvement in the design process. The research stems from the assumption that these complexes indeed represent an overlooked heritage, one that is considered “difficult” thereby at risk. By developing a critical overview of the adaptive reuse of former 19th century prisons in Europe with emphasis on the most recent approaches, the research aims to illustrate the potential of the reuse of former prisons, a heritage at Risk* through an extensive mapping of examples across the EU and UK. The research then focusses on the UK context where a selection of 5 case studies will be systematically analysed to also study the relationship between ‘difficult heritage’ and ‘community involvement’. These are further investigated through the creation and application of structured surveys, questionnaires, and/or interviews which will be administered to a representative sample of stakeholders and practitioners. To broaden the impact of our research outside of academia, we aim to involve policymakers, local authorities, heritage conservation bodies (such as Historic England), and professional bodies (such as RIBA) in refining a methodological approach for engaging communities in the reuse of heritage prisons with the vision that this approach can be extended to heritage sites with challenging memories. A series of case studies from around the word demonstrated that communities can play a crucial role in recognizing, preserving, and repurposing heritage sites. They can foster active heritage communities, contribute to research and policymaking, facilitate the adaptation of cultural heritage assets to align them with evolving societal requirements and develop avenues that prioritise community engagement that goes over tourism or cultural industries.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusUnpublished - 6 Jun 2024
EventPGR Conference 2024: It’s not just about the thesis! - Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jun 20246 Jun 2024,forgotten%20on%20the%20PhD%20journey.


ConferencePGR Conference 2024
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle Upon Tyne
Internet address

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