THE INVESTIGATION OF LIVING HERITAGE ATTRIBUTES IN LIVING HERITAGE SITES
The conservation of living heritage sites is a highly complex process. Two factors need careful consideration in order to achieve a balance in the management of such sites: the conservation demands of conservation experts for built heritage and the needs of local people for development of their heritage living space. The complexity of factors involved make for an interesting study of living heritage, taken up by this research in its main case study of the town of Nan in Thailand. Research into the historical background of Nan and its cultural heritage reveals a living heritage site, which is both unique and diverse. Present day Nan was examined using a variety of analysis tools, which were applied to data from interviews, empirical data, field surveys, and documents, in order to better understand the nature of the living heritage site and changing trends over time. Luang Prabang in Lao PDR, a World Heritage site since 1995, was also selected as a further case study with which to compare Nan’s potential World Heritage status from a point of view of changes to living heritage attributes. The outcomes of the research indicate the importance of the management of the sites, which can be at risk of losing balance by focusing on one aspect of heritage to the detriment of the other. The conservation perspective, if allowed to dominate, as in Luang Prabang, can cause irreparable damage to the social fabric, where the development needs of the town are not met. This research concludes that a balance of power amongst stakeholders in the collaborative networks managing such sites is vital to sustaining a balance of living heritage attributes.