The digital cultural biography, a tool for interdisciplinary knowledge exchange on the history and heritage of the urban landscape

Maurice de Kleijn*, Eduardo Dias, Gert Jan Burgers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to address the challenge for knowledge exchange between disciplines that study past urban landscapes, such as archaeologists, historians and historical geographers and disciplines that work on new urban landscapes such as architects and spatial planners. It presents the design, deployment and evaluation of a heritage instrument, the “digital cultural biography” (DCB), which aims to allow future-oriented disciplines to make more historical and heritage informed decisions. Design/methodology/approach – The paper makes three contributions. First it presents a methodology to disseminate geographic information across disciplines by applying the biography of the landscape research strategy. Second it translates this methodology to a digital instrument, the DCB, which makes it possible to configure the historical and heritage features diachronically as well as spatially. And third it evaluates the added value of this instrument by organizing a design concourse and applying various evaluation methods. The Roman neighbourhood of Testaccio functions as the use case for this study. Findings – The research shows a high potential to use digital tooling based on geospatial technologies to support the dialogue between future and past-oriented disciplines. Originality/value – The paper discusses how the recently developed biography of the landscape method can be used as a tool for collaboration between heritage managers and spatial planners. Moreover, for the first time it applies and evaluates digital tools and geospatial technologies to support this approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-94
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2016


  • Architectural management
  • Geospatial technologies
  • Heritage
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Urban design


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