Route: Living history

Cluster question: 002 What do humans and nature mean to each other and what is the ideal relationship between the two?

“This project mobilizes the past as a source of inspiration for a more resilient human involvement with the riverscape in the future.
The project focuses on the Meuse river in Limburg and its main tributaries. Once the backbone of vital economic, social, cultural and ecological systems, over time the Meuse transformed into one of the most polluted rivers in Europe, becoming a dead river devoid of nature and lacking any captivating qualities. Since the 1990s, water quality and biodiversity have considerably improved. Yet the rich human past and intricated heritage of the river have been underutilized, and community involvement remains limited.
This project tackles the historical and societal challenges surrounding the Meuse by bringing together researchers, citizens, designers and policy makers who, within a multi- and transdisciplinary framework, combine their expertise and experience to co-create new, scientifically sound and creative solutions.
The project uses a “”multi-generational approach”” – in combination with historical reconstructions and dynamic environmental models – to inspire and synchronize multiple perspectives on the river’s past and future, and to translate these findings into tangible future scenarios and designs. Within this context, “”living history”” stands for:
1. the present-day riverscape as the outcome of long-term historical, hydrological and ecological processes;
2. the narratives, indicators and social memories that inform the multiple roles that the riverscape once played in people’s life and well-being; and
3. the forms of tangible and intangible natural and cultural heritage that carry this knowledge into the future, and function as potential sources of inspiration.
Given that the living past of the Meuse riverscape is exemplary of many other ancient water cultures in Europe and beyond, an international comparative approach has been added to the project. The title “”The Reanimated River”” expresses its ultimate aim.”


Co-creation, Future river, Living history, Meuse, Multi-generational approach

Other organisations

Academy of Architecture, Amsterdam University of Applied Arts, Ark Nature, Design Academy, Historisch Centrum Limburg, Leiden University (LEI), LGOG, Limburgs Landschap, Natuurmonumenten, Provincie Limburg, RCE, Staatsbosbeheer, Utrecht University (UU), Wageningen Universities and Research (WUR), Waterschap Limburg


Organisation Maastricht University (UM)
Name Dr. C. (Christian) Ernsten
E-mail c.ernsten@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Website https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl