Design outreach: Utilising graphic heritage for heritage interpretation

This six-month scoping project with United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) examined the concept of graphic heritage to assess how it might be a helpful tool for UNESCO designations for overcoming sustainable development challenges specific to urban environments and world heritage sites more generally. The project received funding from Research England: Higher Education Innovation Fund, and built on findings of the Newton Fund Repositioning Graphic Heritage project, the project identified synergies between graphic heritage and current UNESCO programmes and priorities. Discussions ranged from the macrographic value of a city skyline, the mesographic level at which people and place interact, to the micrographic level where graphic detailing forms part of the infrastructure that enables urban environments sensitive to heritage to function. See Figure 1.

Figure 1: The Shanghai Bund – three levels at which urban graphic heritage functions (Photography: Harland 2021)


As part of the project, UKNC proposed Bradford UNESCO City of Film as a case study location and scoping studies were undertaken to identify intrinsic and extrinsic graphic interventions in the cities conservation areas. See Figures 2 and 3.

Figure 2: Scoping photographic study of Bradford’s ‘intrinsic’ architectural detail (Photography: Harland 2021)


Figure 3: Scoping photographic study of Bradford’s ‘extrinsic’ urban detail (Photography: Harland 2021)

Bradford were invited to host an inaugural scoping study workshop to explore the relevance and importance of urban graphic heritage for local-residents, heritage practitioners, policy makers, public administrators, not-for-profit organisations, government agencies, creative designers and academic researchers. The ‘Bradford’s urban graphic heritage: A digital storytelling workshop’ encouraged participants to look at the fabric of the city through as urban-graphic-heritage, to reveal associated meanings through personal and collective narratives about places in the City Centre and Little Germany conservation areas.

Read about the event organisation and watch this short film about the workshop.

Read more about the workshop and the contribution of participants

A full project report is available on request: contact r.g.harland@lboro.ac.uk

Project team

Loughborough University : Dr Robert Harland (PI) · Dr Alison Barnes (Co-I) · Dr Antonia Liguori (Co-opted). United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO : James Bridge (Secretary General and Chief Executive) · Matt Ragbaliati (Head of Policy, Communications and Research) · Moira Nash (Policy Advisor). Bradford UNESCO City of Film : Prof. David Wilson (Director).