Heritage Tourism

Heritage Tourism

Heritage tourism is defined as “traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past a present” (according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation). In my role as president-elect of the American Institute of Architects, I recently led our delegation to the Union of International Architects’ forum in Baku, Azerbaijan. The focus of the forum was mass tourism in historic cities. The information was very practical for our historic town of Beaufort and the expected increase in tourism for the National Reconstruction Monument as well as general tourism on Hilton Head Island and the rest of Beaufort County.

Richard Engelhardt, Professor of Architecture, University of Hong Kong, and former UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific, posed three questions that the forum set out to answer:

 How can you protect the authenticity and historic integrity of the city?

There needs to be a data driven integrated approach to tourism that local governments can use to make rules and regulations to manage tourism. Engelhardt said that one of the most important steps is that the city’s heritage plan and tourism plan have to be incorporated into one cohesive master plan. Nagore Espinosa, CEO at in2destination said that a successful tourism development plan includes all the systems in a city; transportation, health care, city planning, and emergency planning.

How does tourism add to the betterment of the community without compromising the significance of place?

Espinosa emphasized that tourism is a happiness business for tourists but more importantly for the residents and that “We cannot manage – what we cannot measure.” Tourism management based on data allows local government to enact regulations and provide the necessary resources to protect both the significance of place and the residents. Engelhardt stressed that the tourism industry has an obligation to the community and needs to invest in the restoration and maintenance of the heritage sites and natural resources; this should not be on the back of the local or national government.

How do you integrate tourism infrastructure into urban planning?

Engelhardt expressed that the carrying capacity of the infra-structure has to be realistically determined and incorporated into the plan. The local lack of infrastructure integration with tourism planning is visible every Saturday on the clogged highways heading onto Hilton Head and Fripp Islands for the weekly rental turnover. By staggering rental weeks to start on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday the traffic could be reduced by a quarter as well as alleviating the crowded grocery stores.

Bálint Kádár, Assoc. Professor Budapest University of Technology and Economics spoke on the importance of understanding how tourist and residents interact in the city. He measured urban tourism by the quantification of geo-tagged photographs from open source data gathered from Flickr over a ten year period. People were categorized in three different groups:

  1. Tourists were identified by spending 3 or 4 days in a city and never returning. Sites visited mainly by tourists were coded red.
  2. Locals were identified by taking photographs over multiple months and years in a city. Locals’ locations were tagged green. Sites visited by equally by tourists and locals were tagged white.
  3. Long term tourists were identified by taking photographs in a city over several weeks or months and then leaving for extremely long periods of time. They were also coded red.

He used the data to compare Vienna and Prague because they have similar number of tourists every year. Each city had around 30 popular sites. In Vienna, there were 15 sites mainly visited by locals and 3 mainly visited by tourists with the balance visited equally by tourists and locals. The research showed the complete opposite in Prague with 15 sites dominated by tourists and 3 by locals. In Prague, locals no longer have access to their heritage sites. The authenticity and historic integrity of the city is lost when tourists take over the heritage sites and the city itself.

This tourist takeover can be mitigated by expanding the carrying capacity by including cultural activities such as plays and concerts as well as promoting outlying areas from the typical tourist sites.

In Beaufort County’s current strategic plan there is a goal of expanding heritage tourism. As citizens let’s insist that the County develops a data driven plan that is coordinated with all the municipalities and the military to  ensure that the tourism industry is creating happiness for both the visitor but more importantly for us, the residents.


3D drawing lowcountry cottage

On the Boards- Lowcountry Cottage

There is something very satisfying about a compact and efficient cottage, especially here in the lowcountry where most of us would rather be outside most of the time. This little house will serve as a guest cottage with rental potential after the owners build a bigger place on their land. It's really got everything you need though, and with all those solar panels on a house that is just over 800 square feet, you can bet it'll be net-zero!

The clients on this project are interested in using hempcrete, which is a lightweight, cementitious insulating material made from the stalks of hemp plants and lime. We are still learning about hempcrete, but it seems like a wonder-product. The raw materials are renewable, it sequesters carbon, it insulates well. We are very intrigued, and will report back about the practicality of using it.

 


Exterior Spring Island Architecture

Construction Update- Hilton Head Island, Spring Island

Long Cove Club Renovation, Hilton Head Island

Iron work by Ahern's Anvil

This custom rail is being installed in the major renovation happening in Long Cove in Hilton Head Island. Sean Ahern of Ahern's Anvil is the blacksmith. I visited his shop in Charleston a while back and was super impressed with his work. I'd recommend checking out his portfolio at  http://www.ahernsanvil.com/ to see beautiful and unique ironwork.

Here are a few more photos of the Long Cove House. It's a major renovation of an existing house, but it is going to be like a new house when we are finished, we have touched every room. The house will be updated and so much more functional after the renovation. Our clients often grapple with whether they should renovate an existing house, or tear it down and rebuild. We usually find that it is less expensive to renovate, even if the renovation is extensive. It is more sustainable, also!

Port Royal Plantation, Hilton Head Island

This house has incredible marsh views and lots of windows to capture those views. The style is clean and contemporary, but it still reflects lowcountry architectural traditions. I can't wait to see this house furnished!

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Spring Island, Beaufort, SC

We've shown you this gem on Spring Island a good bit lately, it's just so pretty! We are looking forward to getting a professional photographer in, once the landscaping and final punch list items are completed. This house has about 10 kW of solar panels on the roof and a Tesla Powerwall 2 battery for back-up storage. We can't wait to find out what the power generation is like after the owners have been using it awhile. Interested in more information about rooftop solar? Check out our post here. The landscaping here is by Thomas Angell of Verdant Enterprises. We enjoy working together and have a similar mindset about keeping the site native and natural and fitting the house into the site (rather than vice-versa).

St. Simons Island, Georgia

The house on St. Simons is looking really great. This is another project that we are collaborating with Thomas Angell of Verdant Enterprises on. We just love how that giant oak camouflages the house. The maple front door and the cypress ceilings are very handsome, its so exciting to see finish materials on the house!

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