Repositioning Graphic Heritage

What new perspectives can graphic design contribute to design for urban heritage? How can participatory design approaches enhance urban graphic heritage for greater social cohesion?

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in the United Kingdom, this two-year project between Loughborough University School of Design and Creative Arts, and Tongji University College of Design and Innovation, explores the integrative process through which people experience, and are informed about, urban heritage through graphic images. It focuses on establishing a clearer understanding about the core knowledge that heritage professionals must grapple with when they need to communicate with the public about the heritage experience.

The research provides new opportunities for creative industry practitioners concerned with enhancing cultural development in China and the UK. Through the prism of graphic design, the project explores different facets of the heritage experience, such as the role of transport signage and pedestrian signage; symbols, such as pictograms, that identify heritage products, services and experiences; websites and other digital designs that augment the visitor experience; and site- specific moving images that narrate and educate us about heritage.

Utilising a combination of field visits, practice-led and practice-based approaches, participatory design, public exhibition, and digital archival practices, the project establishes new methods for recording, archiving and interpreting graphic images of urban heritage, for the benefit of researchers and practitioners working in countries wanting to develop the heritage visitor experience.


Read about the research:

Harland, RG, Du, Q, Selby, A, Wells, P, Xu, J, Yonghi, L, Zhang, X (2019) Defining urban graphic heritage for economic development in the UK and China. In International Association of Societies of Design Research Conference 2019 (IASDR 2019), Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK.

Design for Heritage in Practice Workshop, 19 October 2019 

Design for Heritage in Theory Symposium, 15 October 2019 

Design for Heritage in Theory Symposium proceedings (in Chinese), 15 October 2019 

Urban Perspectives on Design Literacy Summer School, 20–21 June 2019 



Exploring Urban Graphic Heritage exhibition panels 

Repositioning Graphic Heritage poster 

Design for Heritage in Theory call for papers 

Design for Heritage in Theory cover design for proceedings 

Exploring Urban Graphic Heritage exhibition postcard 

See also the Tracing Shanghai project


Featured in:

Praxis’ Heritage for Global Challenges Lebanon Workshop Report 

Loughborough University | Dr. Robert Harland (PI), Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design | Prof. Paul Wells (Co-I), Chair in Animation | Andrew Selby (Co-I), Associate Dean for Enterprise | Johnny Xu (Research Associate). Tongji University | Prof. Lou Yongqi, (PI), Dean of the College of Design and Innovation | Dr. Zhang Xueqing, (Co-I), Director of Discipline Development Centre | Dr. Du Qin, (Co-I), Director of Brand and Space Laboratory | Shi Yin, (Co-I), Head of Tongji Tiandi Art & Design Innovation Co. Ltd.