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Cooperativismo y Desarrollo

versión On-line ISSN 2310-340X

Coodes vol.10 no.2 Pinar del Río mayo.-ago. 2022  Epub 30-Ago-2022


Original article

Design of a procedure to evaluate the identity of public heritage spaces

Arlett Medina Rodríguez1  *

Leysi Iliana Blanco Ramiz1

Jensy Tanda Díaz1

Roberto Carmelo Pons García1

Yanlis Rodríguez Veiguela1

1 Universidad de Matanzas "Camilo Cienfuegos". Matanzas, Cuba.


Undoubtedly, the term public space is common to all citizens, for several centuries these places have been central points in the development of both cities and entire civilizations. The patrimonial public space, built by human beings, with the city as the main paradigm is, above all, a space to be occupied, to serve and to be used, to fill and to empty with real or symbolic presence, to interact with other people in an environment and to interact with it. The current scenario in which cities develop and their increasing competitiveness has evidenced the existing limitations and shortcomings in the management of their public heritage spaces and, specifically, in the study of their identity. In response to this, the present research aims to propose a procedure for the evaluation of the identity of the public heritage spaces of a city, proposes, as a novelty, the design of the contextualized procedure, holistically addresses the problem of study from the systematization of the existing theoretical-methodological foundations in the management of public heritage spaces; in addition, the role and link between the marketing management of a city and the identity of these spaces are established. In this logic of analysis, pertinent methods and techniques are used and integrated in a coherent manner, which allow the study of the identity of public heritage spaces in order to contribute to increase the effectiveness of their management in the urban environment.

Keywords: heritage public spaces; identity; heritage


Currently, cities are in the need to adapt to the existing changes worldwide, so they have had to rethink their objectives and seek new management alternatives to ensure a certain level of competitiveness (Rodríguez Veiguela, 2016); for this, it is necessary to create public spaces as they are an important part of them. It is where people can relate and communicate with each other, so it is relevant to manage them effectively, through their identity in order not to ignore the urban historical memory.

The concept of public space began to be developed in the 17th century by an important group of authors, who considered it in consensus as a commercial space. In order to successfully adapt to the new demands of the times, cities are forced to undertake a series of innovations at the local management level. It is precisely marketing as a science that provides a conceptual basis and a scientific approach suitable for initiating such innovations. In this order of ideas, urban marketing is considered an effective local management tool for the design of strategies in cities, as well as for influencing their global competitiveness.

Cities in the 21st century are facing various problems that increasingly affect society as a whole. Among these, it can be highlighted the accelerated process of globalization and the consequent urbanization. In this scenario, cities do not perform an adequate job with respect to the use and improvement of public heritage spaces (EPP in Spanish) in general, which contribute to the preservation of historical memory, sustainability and value creation from their use (Ayala García, 2015; Berroeta Torres & Vidal Moranta, 2012; Salim Cerqueira, 2021). This is why it is necessary to carry out a process of evaluation of the identity of public spaces, with the aim of increasing the benefits resulting from their conservation and consequent use and that can contribute to the creation of value in the urban environment. Therefore, it is necessary to study the identity of heritage public spaces in Cuban cities, so that it can serve as a starting point and guiding nucleus to carry out actions that will result in the proposed objectives and, in addition, that can be extrapolated to other urban public spaces worldwide.

Heritage is understood as a legacy that integrates monuments and sites of great natural and cultural wealth, it is part of the material, immaterial and spiritual wealth of a society as the maximum reflection of its identity. It is the sensitive nexus of connecting with the past, which allows to recognize and equate the essence, features, and even similarities in societies of the same era. In recent years, heritage management for the development of cities is becoming more and more frequent, due to the great amount of values it possesses (Cantú Martínez, 2018; Coello Gaviño & López Sánchez, 2018).

The public space contains values and symbolisms that give it a heritage conception, that is, national, cognitive, economic and artistic values that show memory scenarios, cataloged and worthy of preservation (Fonseca Rodríguez, 2014), then, heritage public spaces are spaces that evoke the past with important memories, They are places of socialization, expression, cultural exchange and free accessibility that can be taken as a starting point to identify not only historical but also cultural traces as an observatory on which the survival of culture and history through time depends.

According to Rodríguez Veiguela (2016) the actions undertaken in Cuban cities by their managers, in a general sense technologies, that contribute to their management in an integral way; the methods and techniques used are not solidly argued, so there is a tendency to empiricism and lack of consistency with the real needs of urban target audiences, as well as in the conception of the positioning of these cities.

Despite the situation described above, in the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution in the Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development (PCC, 2017), there is a marked change in the conception and recognition of these tools in the search for adequate strategic planning of the city for the benefit of local development, the community and society in general, as long as this allows its sustainable development, by complying with the particularities and precepts of the Cuban social system (Rodríguez Veiguela, 2016).

In the case of Cuba, for some years, in many cities, several offices of conservators and historians have been created to rescue and keep alive the nation's heritage. With this objective, it is necessary to know the identity resources that the city possesses in order to contribute to the improvement of its management through the identity of the heritage public spaces.

The present research addresses as an object of study the identity of heritage public spaces.

Based on the established problems, the general objective is to propose a procedure for the evaluation of the identity of the heritage public spaces of a city.

Materials and methods

For the development of the research, methods from the theoretical level of knowledge were used, as well as methods and techniques from the empirical level of knowledge. At the theoretical level, the following stand out: historical-logical to know the foundations and evolution of the different positions on the identity of heritage public spaces and their relationship with city marketing; the analytical-synthetic method allowed to reach conclusions on the topics addressed through the study of different authors, the inductive-deductive to establish the links between the different elements addressed and the systemic approach was used to present the proposal of the procedure as an integrated system of various components and steps.

As for the empirical level of knowledge, the research mainly employed documentary analysis methods and expert judgment, as well as the following techniques: questionnaire surveys of specialists in urban development and identity, group dynamics and computer processing of the results through Microsoft Excel pivot tables. In the documentary analysis, information related to studies on city marketing, identity and heritage public spaces is used.

Results and discussion

Currently, public heritage spaces in different parts of the world present a series of problems that jeopardize their conservation, not only as a space in the universe, but also as places of symbolism and identity that endanger the culture of different societies. Nowadays, the economic, political, social and cultural problems that affect the world have led citizens to seek refuge in the spaces of memory that, due to their significance, welcome them, finding in them the satisfaction of daily needs through the appropriation of these spaces in a disorderly manner that can lead to the disappearance of these places (Cárdenas O'Byrne, 2017).

There are several factors that allow to affirm that studies on the identity of public heritage spaces in cities are limited, among which it can be mentioned the following:

  • It is still a recent field of research

  • It is based on a strong historical-research component that requires in-depth practical work with secondary sources, which is generally only associated with urban historians.

  • It requires time and organization in the search for the information needed to compile an urban identity file and can sometimes be mistakenly considered too theoretical and of little practical benefit.

Based on the literature review carried out on procedures for the evaluation of identity and its projection in the image in the context of urban marketing, as well as in relation to the characterization and identification of heritage, the need arises to generate a proposal that takes into account this information for the study of the identity and image of Cuban urban heritage public spaces. To this end, techniques suggested in previous research can be used (Egea Jiménez & Nieto Calmaestra, 2022; García del Villar Balón, 2018; Rodríguez Veiguela, 2016; Vega Centeno Sara Lafosse, 2017), it is also necessary to have the active participation of relevant social actors and to work with a multidisciplinary team, which results in timely contributions from specialists from different disciplines.

This would lead to the implementation of new management alternatives that guarantee a certain level of competitiveness to the city, based on the revaluation of these heritage resources to position the city before its internal and external clients. For the elaboration of the procedure for the evaluation of the identity of the public heritage spaces, elements of the aforementioned authors that coincide and that constitute a background retained in the proposal are used.

Stage I. Creation of a Group of EPP Experts

The objective of this stage is to determine the organizational level of the work of the group created. It constitutes the starting point for the identification of the Heritage Public Space in order to manage them in the Cuban cities under study. For this purpose, this stage is structured in two steps:

Step 1: Establishment of the Heritage Public Space Expert Group

The creation of this Group of Experts is indispensable because of the need to consolidate a common body for coordination among the different public heritage sites.

Objective: to define the structure of the Group of Experts.

The following tasks are proposed to accomplish this step:

  1. Establish the structure and organization of the EPP Expert Group: this group would be made up of a representative of the Provincial Directorate of Heritage, a representative of the Provincial Directorate of Land Use and Urban Planning, a representative of the Office of the Conservator, a representative of the Office of the Historian, a representative of the Local Government, and a marketing specialist. The physical space will be assigned by the local government; with this task, it is intended to organize this group. During the first meeting of the representatives, the importance and necessity of the creation of the Group of Experts of the EPP is made known, where the director will be elected by vote of the representatives themselves. For the development and implementation of the work plan or other projects, its members need to make collective decisions based on common agreements.

  2. Establish the functions of the EPP Expert Group: Its functions are to be an instance for technical coordination among the different public heritage spaces, to generate the conditions, as well as to achieve visibility and recognition of the EPP in order to contribute to improve the management of the cities based on the evolution of their identity and image.

Step 2: Analysis of existing policies related to the Public Heritage Space

In the country there are policies and regulations that govern and, in addition, pronounce and establish actions in terms of preserving the identity of the EPP. In addition, the diagnosis and analysis of the current situation of the city's environment help to detect the most relevant aspects in order to carry out the strategic work planning of the EPP Group of Experts.

Objective: To analyze the policies and regulations governing the actions of the EPP for the management of a city.

In order to accomplish this step, the following tasks are proposed:

  1. Analysis of the policies and regulations governing the action of EPP: a detailed analysis is made of the country's constitution, decree-laws, decrees, resolutions, conventions and articles that protect the conservation and use of EPP.

  2. Analysis of the city's environment: with this task a comprehensive analysis of the city's environment is carried out for the identification of those external and internal factors that influence the city. This allows appropriate and timely decisions to be made for the proper planning and management of cities. For this analysis, the SWOT analysis or matrix is used to show the main weaknesses, threats, strengths and opportunities of the city. This makes it possible to establish a preliminary diagnosis for the design of strategies for the effective management of the EPP identity.

Stage II. Selection of the Heritage Public Space object of study

The objective of this stage is to identify the different public heritage spaces existing in the city under study and classify them according to the typologies established for them, as well as to select the one that will be the object of study. This stage is composed of the following steps:

Step 1: Identify the public heritage spaces present in the city under study

The objective of this step is to identify the public heritage spaces under study, once an evaluation of the different aspects or elements that compose them has been carried out. All this should be done with the use of literature review, direct observation and the criteria of the group of experts. These aspects should be included in a table (Fig. 1) to determine their characteristics. It is considered to use elements such as: the address where the space is located, the people's council and the constructive state.

Source: Own elaboration

Fig. 1 Aspects to be taken into account for the identification of the heritage public spaces of the city under study  

Step 2: Classifying public heritage spaces

Objective: Contextualize the EPP from the historical-geographical description and, in addition, classify the existing public spaces in the city under study.

To accomplish this step, the following tasks are carried out:

  1. Historical-geographical description of the EPP: With this task, updated information on the EPP is obtained by means of a bibliographic review of books, web pages, magazines, articles, among other sources. After obtaining the information, we proceed to analyze and select the information.

  2. For this classification, the researcher with the group of experts selected in the research to specialists from the Office of the City Conservator and consultation of the City Master Plan must classify each of the public spaces, using brainstorming (Make table according to figure 2).

Source: Own elaboration

Fig. 2 Classification of heritage public spaces in the city under study  

Step 3: Select the EPPs to be studied

In this step, after identifying and classifying the public heritage spaces in the city under study, the ones to be studied in depth are selected. To carry out this step, it is suggested that, based on the interests of the group of city managers involved, taken into account in the previous step, considering the identified development needs of the city, the positioning of the city, the approved strategic plan, as well as other criteria of interest, a brainstorming or group work is carried out, a brainstorming or group work is carried out, taking into account the results of the diagnosis carried out in step 1 to identify the EPPs, where the state of the spaces is considered, as well as the presence of different differentiating attributes, to select the EPPs that will be prioritized for study.

Step 4: Characterize the EPP to be studied

After having identified, classified and selected the public heritage spaces existing in the city that will be the object of study, we proceed to their characterization. To do this, it is necessary to draw up a table (Fig. 3) where the different elements that allow this characterization based on: name, type of heritage to which it belongs, description (construction conditions, history that precedes it, among other elements) can be collected.

Source: Own elaboration

Fig. 3 Characterization of the public heritage spaces under study 

Stage III. Analysis of the identity of the heritage public space of the city under study.

The objective of this stage will be evidenced in two moments; in the first moment an analysis of the patrimonial identity through the different dimensions of the urban identity will be carried out and, in its second moment, the determination of the attributes that will be used to evaluate the image of the EPP under study. The structuring of this stage is determined by the following steps:

Step 1: Determination of the urban personality

As an objective of this step, it is necessary to obtain information about the sequential-logical development of the city under study, in order to place the researcher in a position to know the main trends that this city has gone through and the state it is in at the time of the research. For this purpose, different sources of secondary information and primary information from in-depth interviews are used. In order to comply, it is necessary to use the data obtained in the previous stage.

Step 2: Determination of the urban design

This step aims to identify the urban design as responsible for visually shaping the EPP within the city under study, which gives it an identifiable character that allows differentiating it from its similar ones; for this purpose, several sources of primary information such as in-depth interviews and surveys were used. In order to accomplish this step, the following tasks will be carried out:

  1. Synthesize the architectural and urban evolution of the EPP under study.

  2. Identify the physical and geographic components representative of the EPP under study.

Step 3: Determination of urban communication

The objective of this step is to determine the nature and particularity of urban communication based on the analysis of media, supports, as well as the work in this sense of communication agencies in the city under study, which facilitates understanding the essence of urban communication in terms of the EPP. The primary sources of information used are: in-depth interviews and surveys through semi-structured questionnaires. To complete this step, the following tasks should be carried out, in summary, according to the established objective:

  1. Identification of media, supports and communication agencies

  2. Analysis of the selected communication objectives with the positioning of the city and the EPPs of the identified media, supports and communication agencies.

Step 4: Determination of heritage identity attributes that can be converted into image attributes of the EPP

The objective of this step is to determine which attributes of heritage identity are likely to be converted into attributes of the EPP image. In this sense, according to the criteria of the experts determined and established in step 1, the transcendental urban identity attributes are then selected for extrapolation to the EPP. The primary sources of information to be used are in-depth interviews and group dynamics. To complete this step, the following tasks are carried out:

  1. Analysis of heritage identity and the attributes that make up this construct.

  2. Selection of the critical attributes of heritage identity in the conformation of the same, associated with the public heritage space under study in particular.

Step 5: Determination of image attributes based on the EPP identity and its measurement criteria according to the target audience

This step allows the procedure to be contextualized to the public heritage spaces that apply it, since the attributes and their measurement criteria are adjusted to the selected audiences, based on those established in the previous step, according to the public heritage space under analysis, as well as the specific needs identified. The primary source of information to be used are the in-depth interviews. To complete this step, the following tasks must be carried out:

  1. Use group dynamics with the established experts to determine the image attributes of the EPP and define the target audiences, the object of study in this case.

  2. Conduct a literature review on the subject in order to establish the criteria for measuring the image attributes to be defined for the EPP.

Step 6: Carrying out the sample design for the target audience

The objective of this step is to establish the sample design for the selected target audience, which involves determining the universe or population from which the information is to be obtained, delimiting the sample, selecting the most appropriate sampling method and establishing the sample size.

Step 7: Evaluation of the identity and image of the public space of the city under study

The objective of this step is to evaluate the identity and image of the selected public space in the city under study, according to the selected target public. The sources of information to be used are personal surveys through structured questionnaires. To complete this step, the following tasks must be carried out:

  1. Define the type of questions and the evaluation scale (suggest the use of the ratio method, with a 5-point Likert scale).

  2. Designing the research instrument (two parts: a) one part referring to the measurement of identity to target audiences, and b) the other referring to the measurement of image to previously determined audiences).

  3. Test the reliability of the instrument and the proposed measurement scales through a pretest of the questionnaire.

  4. Conduct field work

  5. Tabulate and process data

  6. Analysis of the results obtained

In this case it is suggested:

  1. Assessment of the perceptions of the target audiences established for each attribute, dimension and, in general, of the identity, through descriptive statistics.

  2. Assessment of the perceptions of the target audiences established for each attribute, dimension and, in general, of the image, through descriptive statistics.

  3. Analysis of the level of importance assigned to attributes, dimensions and, in general, through descriptive statistics.

  4. Estimation of target audience behaviors

  5. Analysis of significant differences between perceptions of components, dimensions and attributes of the EPP identity and the EPP image

  6. Assessment of the relationship between EPP image, intention to visit, and satisfaction with the EPP

  7. Relationship between the identity and image of the EPP (dependent variables) and the components, dimensions and attributes of both constructs (independent variables).

  8. Evaluate identity and image situations that may arise with a view to proposing strategies and actions.

Stage IV: Proposal for identity strategies for public heritage spaces

The objective of this stage is to define the different strategies to be implemented according to the established situations of the selected heritage public space in the city under study. Therefore, the following are considered as possible alternative strategies:

  1. Indifferentiation strategy. This consists of carrying out activities to define the common elements among the different public heritage spaces and implementing pertinent actions in each of them. This can be done by creating a comprehensive program for public heritage spaces where local managers should formulate strategies to reinforce the areas that are well evaluated and improve the deficiencies, with the objective of achieving optimal management of the resources associated with public heritage spaces. The program should be linked to new development projects for the conservation and improvement of public environments, considering civic aspects that can be developed in them and that are integrated in a relevant way to the heritage public space. In addition, it is possible to aspire to insert the heritage public space within the program of events of the city under study.

  2. The communication strategy. It is the planning tool that systematizes in a global, integral and coherent way the general objectives, tactics, messages, actions, indicators, instruments and deadlines that the organization is going to put into play to transfer its image and message to the outside world in a given period. This strategy leads to actions such as, for example, promoting community participation and the diversity of activities inside and outside the public space, socialization among the different target audiences is achieved. In addition, activities for the maintenance of the public space are implemented and awareness is created in the population, especially for the conservation of its habitat. Likewise, spaces for exchange can be created with the users of public spaces in order to satisfy their needs. Timely communication about public spaces can also be inserted into the city's promotional programs.

There is a tendency to empiricism in the evaluation studies of the identity of the public heritage space, due to the fact that they lack a relevant application in terms of methods and techniques used with scientific rigor. The use of such methods and techniques can contribute to the achievement of favorable results in the management of EPPs.

The designed procedure solves some of these shortcomings and can be applied to EPP in Cuban cities in general, once it is contextualized.

Referencias bibliográficas

Ayala García, E. T. (2015). La apropiación y modos de ocupación del espacio público. El caso de la avenida 6a de la ciudad de Cúcuta. Dearq, (17), 74-85. [ Links ]

Berroeta Torres, H., & Vidal Moranta, T. (2012). La noción de espacio público y la configuración de la ciudad: Fundamentos para los relatos de pérdida, civilidad y disputa. Polis. Revista Latinoamericana, (31). ]

Cantú Martínez, P. C. (2018). Desarrollo sustentable: Cultura, patrimonio cultural y natural en México. Turismo y Sociedad, 23, 25-40. [ Links ]

Cárdenas O'Byrne, S. (2017). Medir el uso del espacio público urbano seguro. Sociedad y Economía, (33), 33-54. [ Links ]

Coello Gaviño, S., & López Sánchez, J. A. (2018). Las nuevas tecnologías aplicadas al patrimonio como optimizadoras de la gestión turística. International Journal of Information Systems and Tourism, 3(2), 19-28. ]

Egea Jiménez, C., & Nieto Calmaestra, J. A. (2022). Análisis de los elementos de identidad de un espacio público. El caso del parque Juárez (Xalapa, México). Revista EURE - Revista de Estudios Urbano Regionales, 48(144). [ Links ]

Fonseca Rodríguez, J. M. (2014). La importancia y la apropiación de los espacios públicos en las ciudades. PAAKAT: Revista de Tecnología y Sociedad, 4(7). ]

García del Villar Balón, R. (2018). Identidades de los paisajes urbanos: Usos y puesta en valor. En Valores e identidad de los paisajes culturales: Instrumentos para el conocimiento y difusión de una nueva categoría patrimonial (pp. 177-200). Universidad de Granada. ]

PCC. (2017). Conceptualización del Modelo Económico y Social Cubano de Desarrollo Socialista. UEB Gráfica. Empresa de periódicos. Links ]

Rodríguez Veiguela, Y. (2016). Determinación del posicionamiento deseado en ciudades cubanas: Caso ciudad de Matanzas [Doctorado en Ciencias Económicas, Universidad de Matanzas]. /Ciencias%20Econ%C3%B3micas/2016/DETERMINACI%C3%93N%20DEL%20POSICIONAMIENTO%20DESEADO%20EN%20CIUDADES%20CUBANAS%20CASO%20CIUDAD%20DE%20MATANZAS.(YANLIS%20RODR%C3%8DGUEZ%20VEIGUELA).pdf Links ]

Salim Cerqueira, M. C. (2021). Las contradicciones del patrimonio cultural y natural en la lucha por el territorio de los recogedores de flores siemprevivas. Revista NERA, 24(56), 72-92. [ Links ]

Vega Centeno Sara Lafosse, P. (2017). La desigualdad invisible: El uso cotidiano de los espacios públicos en la Lima del siglo XXI. Territorios, (36), 23-46. ]

Received: June 13, 2022; Accepted: July 06, 2022

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