Cities and places exist in space and time, and never stand still. Although they are made of their past, they are inevitably projected into the future. As heritage expert Gregory Ashworth argues, contemporary needs and economic concerns all conspire to demand that we create heritage, defined as an image of a place that we believe is unique. However, given that we are all operating in a market that is becoming increasingly globalised and uniform, the question is: 'How do we get to the core of what is distinctive about a place?'

From the beginning of its activity, Noema has committed resources and skills to help civic leaders and communities identify the unique assets and resources of places so that sustainable and creative solutions to local development can be found. In particular, Noema employs an ethnographic method of analysing and interpreting place called Cultural Mapping.

This method is based on the assumption that a precondition for identifying and exploiting local potential is to conduct a wide-ranging exploration of the distinctive cultural assets of a place. How a place is shaped (history, landscape), what it feels like (the urban fabric and the interaction between different cultures and communities), how it projects itself (the images it conjures up) – these are all based on its local culture. Such broad mapping of the local cultural assets can be an effective way of responding to local needs while providing opportunities for local development.

For more information, please see: Projects