From 29 September to 3 October, the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo-AECID, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Housing, organized the 6th International Encounter on the Management of Historic Centres. The training centre of the AECID, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, was chosen as the host for this sixth encounter. The five days saw the presentation of foremost interventions in the Latin America world and two of the most important schemes at international level: the project of the Aga Khan Foundation in Cairo and RehabiMed’s pilot operations in Marrakech, Cairo and Kairouan. Over a year after their completion, the latter are still pioneers due to the nature of the interventions and attract growing international interest among professionals in rehabilitation.
The fundamental aim addressed at the conference was how to improve methodology in the management of historic centres in Latin America by reflecting on interventions carried out and evaluating their long-term results. Evaluation of the experiences carried out in recent years and analysis of differing urban and social policies produced a very productive debate about the guidelines that should be adopted in the future. The situation in Latin America is evidently not so homogenous as to allow unification of criteria in policies for action, as the complexity of political, economic and social diversity has created extremely different realities. Regrettably, in the words of Alberto Samudio, throughout much of the continent, poverty hits various sectors and has produced a situation that is difficult to classify, within which the degradation of housing and public space is one of the most obvious reflections. It is in the management of this public space that citizen participation plays a determinant, binding role which also facilitates subsequent maintenance and allows residents to identify with the territory.
In her presentation of RehabiMed’s pilot operations, Montserrat Villaverde stressed how the correct application of the Method is a positive contribution to both heritage and residents, since it optimizes resources which then serve to improve living and working conditions and the quality of public space, providing access to services and quality public facilities. The physical, social and economic aspects of the pilot operations, the core themes of the conference, were analysed and presented, with the emphasis on active citizen participation both at the project phase and in the subsequent management of maintenance.