Capturing Water, Culture and Heritage through Icons

A First Attempt





Humans have engaged with water in multiple ways, creating physical structures – such as buildings, cities, infrastructures and landscapes–and socio-cultural manifestations – for example, institutions, laws, artistic practices and rituals. They have transformed natural settings in keeping with climate and energy conditions. To understand the diverse conditions of water spaces and heritage, we have created a set of icons to categorize tangible and intangible objects and practices related to water. The icons help us identify different scales, functions and forms of both water management- related heritage objects, as well as generic water-related structures. The categories identified are suggestions and not conclusive or mutually exclusive.

How to Cite

Hein, C., D’Agostino, M., Donkor, C., Lin, Q., & Sennema, H. (2022). Capturing Water, Culture and Heritage through Icons: A First Attempt. Blue Papers, 1(1), 1–3.





water, culture and heritage themes

Author Biographies

Carola Hein, Delft University of Technology

Professor History of Architecture and Urban Planning at Delft University of Technology, Professor at Leiden and Erasmus University and UNESCO Chair Water, Ports and Historic Cities. She has published widely in the field of architectural, urban and planning history and has tied historical analysis to contemporary development. Among other major grants, she received a Guggenheim and an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship. Her recent books include: Oil Spaces (2021), Urbanisation of the Sea (2020), Adaptive Strategies for Water Heritage (2020), The Routledge Planning History Handbook (2018), Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (2011).

Matteo D’Agostino, Delft University of Technology

Researcher at Delft University of Technology, a member of the PortCityFutures research group, and currently affiliated with the UNESCO Chair for Water, Ports and Historic Cities. Matteo is a cultural anthropologist experienced in the analysis of perceptions and relational dynamics between public and private actors. His research focuses on understanding multiple structural, spatial and socio-economic factors as the basis for spatial planning and social interventions. Other interests include policy implementation for granting access to basic resources, such as water, and strategic reinterpretation of heritage by institutional and activist organizations.

Carlien Donkor, Delft University of Technology

Researcher at Delft University of Technology. She is also affiliated with the LDE PortCityFutures research group and the UNESCO Chair for Water, Ports and Historic cities. Carlien is trained as an architect with experience in design, construction, procurement and project management. Her master’s thesis focused on the subject of integrated urban water design and how factors not only limited to climate change and urbanism pose a risk to the design and planning of historical water cities like Milan. Other interests include volunteer work.

Queenie Lin, Delft University of Technology

PhD Candidate at History of Architecture and Urban Planning, Delft University of Technology, with a research focus on the sustainable preservation of climate-challenged Dutch overseas settlements in VOC Asia. She is currently working under the UNESCO Chair Water, Ports and Historic Cities and the PortCityFutures research group. She was also a PhD candidate of Cultural Heritage and Arts Innovation Studies, Taipei National University of the Arts, and that and her previous MA training in art and architectural history (University of Virginia, USA), conservation of fine art (Northumbria University, UK), and underwater cultural heritage certificate (UNESCO Foundation Course), equipped her for the professional experience in academia, museums, research institutes and thinktanks in Asia, America and Europe.

Hilde Sennema, Delft University of Technology

Is a historian with a master’s degree in architectural history. After working in the field of urban planning and heritage, she is now finishing her PhD on post-war reconstruction in port cities at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Between 2018 and 2021 she wrote a weekly column in the Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad. In 2022 she joined the UNESCO Chair of Water, Ports and Historic Cities at Delft University of Technology to work as a researcher and lecturer. Besides port cities, her research interests include public-private relations in public space, and the cultural meanings and representations of water.