Repositioning Graphic Heritage

What new perspectives can graphic design contribute to design for urban heritage? How can participatory design approaches enhance urban graphic heritage for greater social cohesion?

Read further about our response to these questions.

This Newton Fund project, co-ordinated by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in co-operation with the UNESCO Creative City (Shanghai) Promotion Office, explored the integrative process through which people experience and are informed about urban heritage through graphic images.

Its ongoing focus is to establish a clearer understanding about the core knowledge that heritage professionals must grapple with when they need to communicate with the public about the heritage experience. The initial research, undertaken by Loughborough University School of Design and Creative Arts with Tongji University College of Design and Innovation, provided new insights for creative industry practitioners concerned with enhancing cultural development in China and the UK.

Through the prism of graphic design, the project explores different facets of the heritage experience. It involves a combination of field visits, practice-led and practice-based approaches, participatory design, public events and exhibition, and digital archival practices, to establish new approaches for recording, archiving and interpreting graphic images of urban heritage for the benefit of researchers and practitioners working in countries wanting to develop their heritage visitor experience.

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1. Repositioning Graphic Heritage project launch symposium

23 October 2018, Tongji University, Shanghai

Repositioning Graphic Heritage project launch poster (Jie Xu 2018)


2. Design for Heritage in Theory Symposium

15 October 2019, Tongji University, Shanghai

Read about the Design for Heritage in Theory Symposium

Read proceedings (in Chinese)

3. Exploring Urban Graphic Heritage Exhibition

14 October – 31 December 2019, Tongji University, Shanghai

Download exhibition panels

4. Critical heritage studies: Current discourses and global challenges, Exhibition

Centre of Critical Heritage Studies, University of Gothenburg, 7–8 November 2019


5. Heritage and Memorialisation track at Design Research Society Conference

30 June 2022, Bilbao

Read three peer reviewed conference papers



Repositioning Graphic Heritage features in two heritage reports

Praxis’ Heritage for Global Challenges Lebanon Workshop Report

Praxis’ Heritage for Global Challenges

6. Leicester City Council

Urban Perspectives on Design Literacy Summer School, 20–21 June 2019, Loughborough and Leicester


Prof. Rachel Cooper confronts the matter of aesthetics in Design Literacy

Read about the Summer School

7. UK National Commission for UNESCO and Bradford UNESCO City of Film

Urban graphic heritage in Bradford: A digital storytelling workshop, 27 September 2021, Bradford

Read more about the the workshop

Read more about Bradford’s Urban Graphic Heritage in the information pack below, or download it

8. UNESCO Creative City (Shanghai) Promotion Office

Design for heritage in practice workshop, 19 October 2019, Shanghai, China

Dr Pan Jin, Director of the UNESCO Creative City (Shanghai) Promotion Office, convenes discussion between panel members and workshop attendees

Read about the workshop

9. Tracing Shanghai Participatory Design Workshop

27 December 2020, Shanghai, China

Read more about the Tracing Shanghai Participatory Design workshop

Watch the Tracing Shanghai Architectural Heritage place identity prototype project / Graphic Redesign of Shikumen by Huiqi Yang

10. Invited lecture to Sign Design Society members

Read more about Finding Urban Graphic Heritage

Review of urban-graphic-objects in Sign Design Society Newsletter

11. International Creative Cities Design Innovation Forum

15 May 2018, Shanghai, China

Prof. Cees de Bont introduces the Repositioning Graphic Heritage project at International Creative Cities Design Innovation Forum, Shanghai (in Chinese)

Read about it


Follow-on research

The following projects have been inspired by the Repositioning Graphic Heritage project.

Graphic standards in graphic heritage: Scope, scale, and unity through multiplicity in Islamic design

Adelaide’s graphic heritage: The quintessential contested colonial city

Food’s urban graphic heritage in Walthamstow

Kissing the badge: Club crests or corporate logos?

Memorialising Mandela in the Metropolis

Design outreach: Utilising graphic heritage for heritage interpretation




Repositioning Graphic Heritage poster

Design for Heritage in Theory call for papers

Design for Heritage in Theory cover design for proceedings

Exploring Urban Graphic Heritage exhibition postcard

See also the Tracing Shanghai project



Repositioning Graphic Heritage features in two heritage reports:

Praxis’ Heritage for Global Challenges Lebanon Workshop Report

Praxis’ Heritage for Global Challenges



De Menezes Migliari, M., Harland, R.G. (2022). Making Praça Nelson Mandela: Morphological Change and Graphic Interventions to Define a New Square in the Botafogo District of Rio de Janeiro. In: Bruyns, G., Wei, H. (eds) [ ] With Design: Reinventing Design Modes. IASDR 2021. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-4472-7_120

Pan, H., Harland, R.G., Barnes, A. (2022). Framing Multimodal Discourses About Place as Graphic Landscaping. In: Bruyns, G., Wei, H. (eds) [ ] With Design: Reinventing Design Modes. IASDR 2021. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-4472-7_138

Harland, R. G. (2020) Graphic design studies: what can it be? Following in Victor Margolin’s footsteps for possible answers, in Boess, S., Cheung, M. and Cain, R. (eds.), Synergy – DRS International Conference 2020, 11-14 August, Held online. https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2020.372

Harland, R.G., Du, Q., Selby, A.C., Wells, P., Xu, J., Yonghi, L., & Zhang, X. (2019) Defining urban graphic heritage for economic development in the UK and China. In Evans, M., Shaw, A., and Na, J. (Eds.), Design Revolutions – 8th International Congress of International Association of Societies of Design Research, Volume 2: Living, Making, Value, 2–5 September, Manchester. Held online: https://iasdr2019.org/uploads/files/Proceedings/li-f-1368-Har-R.pdf

Xu, J. (2019). Colour in Urban Places: A Case Study of Leicester City Football Club Blue. Journal of Colour Research and Application. Vol 19; 1–9, https://doi.org/10.1002/col.22378


Project team

Loughborough University: Dr Robert Harland (PI) · Dr Alison Barnes · Dr Yolandi Burger · Dr Mirella de Menezes Migliari · Andrew Selby · Prof. Paul Wells · Johnny Xu · Dr Shichao Zhao   Acknowledgements Tongji University : Prof. Lou Yongqi (PI) · Dr. Zhang Xueqing · Dr. Du Qin · Shi Yin