Commonalities and Conflicts Between Urban Preservation and Social Sustainability in the Historic City of Bath


This research dissertation attempts to provide insight into the ways in which perceptions of social sustainability held by architects and heritage conservationists relate to the evolution of urban form, specifically within the context of urban preservation.  Using the case study location of the historic city of Bath in southwest England, formally inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1987 by UNESCO, the intersection of social sustainability and heritage conservation was explored through qualitative research built on a phenomenological epistemological framework, utilising thematic analysis of interviews of individualswith expertise in the built environment of the historic city to derive individual perceptions about the research question. Data was analyzed based from themes revealed within the academic literature surrounding heritage conservation, social sustainability, sense of place, agency, and complexity as they relate to Bath.  Participant perceptions were further considered against indicators of social sustainability, including the targets for the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities (“Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable”).  The data suggests that although there are potential conflicts within the common indicators of social sustainability as they relate to the practice of heritage conservation, nonetheless the perceptions of these indicators, specifically within the context of Bath, as held by the research participants primarily revealed commonalities along major themes.  Furthermore, the data exposed opportunities for additional inquiry into the relationship between the two identified international programs and their impact on urbanism.  Participants showed varying levels of engagement with the intersectionality of social sustainability and heritage conservation as they relate to the city of Bath, yet all disclosed professional intent to operationalise their understandings, in response to their individual perceptions of how to best serve the well-being of the historic city and the social relationships therein.


Commonalities and Conflicts Between Urban Preservation and Social Sustainability in the Historic City of Bath

Hierarchy of Needs: Application in Urban Design and Community-Building

"...given the central nature of humans in the the function of the urban form, it is reasonable to consider the adaptation of Maslow’s needs hierarchy to the field of urban design.  Understanding the innate motivations influencing the human inhabitants of the built realm can lead to more humane approaches to the design, development, and revitalization of our cities..."

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We Put 31 Artists, 25 Architects and 18 Urban Planners in a Room. Guess What Happens Next.

Originally published on the Next City Network at

The team: 31 artists and designers, 25 architects and housing experts, 23 community members, 18 urban planners, 11 local foundation and city representatives, 2 landscape architects and between them, eight Next City Vanguards.

The deadline: 24 hours.

The result: Nine distinct sets of ideas, condensed into 10 minute presentations, focused on a bunch of little things that can be done in one month, one year, and three years on Glass Street in East Chattanooga, an area in need and unquestionably deserving of The Next Big Thing Urbanism Workshop, hosted by Chattanooga non-profit Glass House Collective and inspired by the 2014 Next City Vanguard conference held in that city.

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Character Counts

Community character is something that urbanists often refer to. It describes the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and emotions that a place might draw out of someone: the calm you feel when you look out past a deep porch to see a boat on the river beyond; the surprise scent of the salt marsh at low tide that wafts farther inland than you might have imagined it could; the way the taste of a fried soft-shell crab seems to match the feeling of the sun on your shoulders as the Lowcountry summer quickly approaches.

Community character is also about the quality of the shared social and cultural and natural and physical life of a place, and Beaufort has more character in all respects than most towns could dream of. Nowhere is that more on display than downtown, in Beaufort’s historic architecture and natural vistas and community warmth.   Downtown Beaufort is where the fabric of our community is kept alive, and working to ensure the character of that community is an organization now in its 29th year here in Beaufort: Main Street Beaufort USA.

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New Urbanism: A Building Culture Based on Tradition

"The Civitas column began as an outlet for a group of people called New Urbanists, explaining how our practices relate to our "civitas," or shared community, here in Beaufort. You might be surprised to learn that by unofficial count, Beaufort has more New Urbanists per capita than anywhere else in the country.

As a result, most Civitas readers probably already know a New Urbanist, and you may have learned from the source just why we call ourselves by that name. For those who don't, we regret that we are past-due for a brief introduction:"

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Zoning Codes: How should Beaufort look?

"A few generations ago, places looked the way they did because neighbors built the buildings of a community together, in the effective methods handed down without formal regulations. There was no such thing as "traditional zoning,"some sort of rulebook that determined how to construct the buildings that preservationists now refer to as "traditional" in form and style. Instead, communities locally-sourced materials and know-how and responsibility for the built environment. Towns like Beaufort were built slowly, at very high personal investment, with very little to do with today's real estate development industry.

In short, zoning codes did not exist back then; they didn't need to."

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Find a problem, design a solution | GOOD

Originally published on the website and global community at

"...I saw a lot of “canceling out” early in my career as an urban designer. I poured myself into the creation of so many ideas for places that would never come to be, because an elected council member didn’t like the architecture in the renderings, or because a newspaper editorial painted the designers as “outsiders” in encouraging dissent, or because a group of competing land owners rallied fear of change in locals. I still remember each one of those losses of opportunity, and I continue to regret that every one of them came without meaningful conversations involving everyone invested..."

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How I'm Empowering Everyday Citizens to Create the Communities They Desire | GOOD

Originally published on the website and global community at 

"The alarm goes off. My husband and I get our daughter ready for the school carpool, then make our own commute. Like many of our neighbors, it’s a short walk to a shop or office in the village, or (in our case) an even shorter walk to the office above our garage. After school, our daughter has the freedom to roam ample sidewalks and trails, visiting friends and exploring nature. While she is out, my husband and I prepare dinner using herbs and vegetables from our patio garden and local meats and dairy purchased at the neighborhood independent grocer. An after-dinner stroll with the dog, when the weather is nice, often leads to friendly visits with neighbors doing the same."

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Guest Post: Designed for Activity

Originally published on the blog Balance: Words of Wellness for your Balanced Life

"As a follow-up to last week’s post where I lamented that few children walk to school in my neighborhood, I asked an urban planner friend to give me her take on the situation.   Mallory Baches joins us today at OnBalance.

As an urban designer, I have a responsibility to people’s relationships with my work, so I took note when another study attached community form to public health.  Published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, you might mistake the scientific findings for common sense: children who live in more walkable communities tend to walk more.  Go figure!"

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Beaufort, SC City Guide | Design*Sponge

Originally published on the widely popular lifestyle blog Design*Sponge

"Today’s Beaufort, SC City Guide comes to us from Mallory Baches.  Ten years ago, Mallory, her husband, daughter, and French bulldog settled into the southern city of Beaufort and quickly fell for the charm of the sea islands. An urban designer and civic specialist, she is the founder and director of The Civic Hub, where she focuses her work on the intersection of urban design and community development. Today, she shares with us the many gems this city has to offer with her extensive guide on the best dining, sites, and activities to enjoy in Beaufort.  Thank you for such a wonderful guide Mallory! –Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump…"

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From Commodity to Community

 "...As we systematically outsourced our experience of community, we simultaneously eroded the strength of our actual communities.  We lost (or failed to make) connections with those around us, with whom we shared geography or perhaps much more.  As the web of social capital became unwoven in our towns and neighborhoods, we made ourselves vulnerable to those factors beyond our community’s control.  We do not collectively share personal investment in our common place, and we now lack the benefits that a cohesive society can bring..."

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How to Be a Vanguard

 "...Reflecting on the experience, I keep coming back to the feeling I got from the first moments spent together in the  Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative  downtown space, which was something along the lines of, “we all speak the same language.”  I’ve been to many conferences and I’ve attended plenty of professional development, but I’ve found it rare that, in a room full of diverse backgrounds as with the 2013 Vanguards, the group will nonetheless feel an immediate kinship of shared values..."

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Why Towns Matter

"...small towns are often forgotten, in a world where size matters.  In fact it is a critical detail in the American narrative, that anyone growing up in a small town can (and as the narrative goes, should) eventually move to the city to make something of themselves, reinforcing the notion that small towns are supposed to be left behind.  Think: Jay Gatsby, Howard Roark, Abraham Lincoln, and Mr. Smith.

Still, we shouldn’t forget that without all of those great small towns quietly raising fresh new talent for it to then up and leave to the opportunities of the big city, there wouldn’t be the narrative to begin with.  Towns may seem small and un-noteworthy from the skyscraper view of the city, but they are an unsung breeding ground that serves to first support and later cheer the successes of great people, great ideas, and great changes..."

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The Importance of Being Rural

 "...In and of themselves, the principles of New Urbanism support rural land conservation simply by the nature of compact mixed-use development achieving higher densities than conventional suburban sprawl, therefore reducing open land consumption. But the Charter of New Urbanism, the document which lays out the principles of the movement, goes much deeper in specific support for the conservation of natural environments:

The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placelesssprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge."
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Introducing Sea Islands 2050

 "...Sea Islands 2050’s mission is to develop, advocate, and implement the goals and supporting strategies needed to achieve full-spectrum sustainability. Partnering with local organizations, parallel initiatives, key stakeholders, and fellow communities, Sea Islands 2050 cultivates collective investment in a common vision, focusing on the critical environmental, social, and economic issues impacting the long-term potential of our region and its citizens, present and future.

Put simply, our objective is to help our community achieve full-spectrum sustainability by the year 2050..."

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 "...Windows are generally one of three types: fixed, hung and casement. Fixed windows do not open, hung windows slide up or down, and casement windows open outwards. Windows were single-glazed until the 19th century, meaning that the panes of windows were a single thickness of glass. With industrialization came innovations in energy conservation, and window manufacturers began to use double-glazing, with the sealed space between the two layers of glass acting as insulation..."

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A Matter of Style: Richardsonian Romanesque

 "...The Romanesque Revival style is characterized by masonry construction and the general use of the semi-circular arch for all wall openings and decoration. Asymmetrical organization, both in plan and elevation, is common to the style. Belt courses, or decorative stone courses that run horizontal across the entire building or major portions of it, are also prevalent. Falling just below the eaves, arcaded corbel tables are often found on the gabled facades of revival churches. Finally, medieval ornaments such as quatrefoil windows and geometric brickwork are often a part of the revival style..."

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