Multi-criteria decision making for urban built heritage conservation: Application of the analytic hierarchy process

Yung YAU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Conservation of built cultural heritage is never an easy task, especially when the subject heritage is located in a heavily developed urban area. The enduring controversy over the conservation scheme of the former Central Police Station Compound in Hong Kong has highlighted the difficulties in achieving satisfying decisions in conservation projects by way of private sector participation. The crux of the deadlock lay in the different perceptions of the project stakeholders towards the relative importance of different decision-making criteria. In fact, many challenges of this kind associated with built heritage conservation can be modelled as multi-criteria decision making (MCDM). The main objective of this study is to present an MCDM model on the criteria for decision making, which can have many applications in heritage conservation decision making. To this end, a preliminary MCDM framework for project selection is developed using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP), which has been widely applied to MCDM in many other fields. Using this framework, 20 local building professionals were interviewed to solicit their views on the relative importance of the decision criteria. It is contended that the AHP provides a scientific approach to the quantification of the relative importance of various decision-influencing criteria. In addition, the use of the AHP will help the government and community identify projects with the best potential to deliver satisfactory outcomes in a project selection process that is not based simply on the highest bid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-205
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Building Appraisal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • analytic hierarchy process
  • built heritage conservation
  • multi-criteria decision making
  • private participation
  • Hong Kong


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