Closing comments

The above examples illustrate some trends that can be found in many countries, demonstrating a variety of problems that, since the Second World War, have characterized our concern for cultural heritage in its continuously broadening dimension. Modern conservation has been essentially related to new

Figure 10.18 The use of traditional technology in the restoration of ancient vaults at Herat in Afghanistan challenges the interpretation of modern restoration concepts in a traditional context. UNESCO project in 1974-80. (A. Bruno)

historical consciousness, but it has also been closely linked with evolving science and systematic research for knowledge about the past. The consequences of this concern have had a permanent impact on so-called Western culture, but have also been felt in the rest of the world - even where challenged by continuing traditions. In fact, the modern conservation movement has not been without internal conflicts of values related to the differ ent origins of concepts and relevant actions.

Major challenges result from the speed of development in society - not withstanding the availability of more accurate information about hazards and risks than was the case earlier. In fact, it is likely that the second half of the twentieth century has been testimony to more massive destruction of heritage than was ever experienced in the past. Part of this picture is due to severe natural and environ-

Figure 10.19 Traditional urban fabric of Samarkand awaiting rehabilitation. The Aga Khan Trust has initiated training and awareness programmes developed initially jointly with ICCROM in 1996-8

Figure 10.20 Bauhaus of Dessau being restored by the authorities of the former German Democratic Republic, in 1976. The buildings of the modern movement in architecture have gained interest at an international level due to the efforts of Docomomo, the International Working Party for the Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement, established in 1988

mental disasters, and it is of significance that the issue of risk preparedness has become a priority theme in international policies towards the end of the millennium. Safeguarding cultural heritage has, in fact, a parallel movement in the concern for nature and environment, a growing awareness of the limits of growth and the need to manage the world's resources taking into account environmental sustainability. The movements in the conservation of cultural and natural heritage have thus found common links, and tend to be joined in a globalized action which is reflected, for example, in UNESCO's World Heritage Convention.

While in the past the responsibility for the protection of ancient monuments, historic buildings and works of art was generally secured by public institutions, this has been challenged by fundamental changes in society. In part the challenges may be due to a broader definition of cultural heritage, the inclusion of private residences and urban and rural areas under protection, not to speak of cultural landscapes. However, the changes have certainly also been due to changing political and administrative systems developed especially from the 1970s, and - like a revolution - from the 1989 collapse of Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe with consequences in all parts of the world. The question of heritage management has thus become one of the key issues in conservation. The former priority in 'restoration' has been replaced with an increasing consciousness in favour of maintenance and preventive care, which should be based on systematic surveys and databases, as well as avoiding excessive bureaucracy. This development is not an easy one, and will require continuous sensitization of local administrators and private property owners - in addition to an increase in knowledge and capacity of critical judgement of cultural values vs. economic and financial aspects, especially in the sectors involved in urban and rural planning processes.

Although modern conservation is based on some specifically modern concepts and values, especially the notion of historicity and the development of relevant methodologies, certain issues have remained in common with the traditional world. One of these is related to religious values. Ancient churches, temples and shrines are still an important target for protection and conservation, just as religious sites and places of cult were the concern of traditional society. Religion was felt particularly in the age of Romanticism, when conservation concepts were being formulated, but it is still relevant at the end of the second millennium when the policies of modern society are challenged with an increased loss of values in the face of the rapidly changing and expanding technological world.

The survival of existing traditional cultures, and the regeneration of values related to cultural identity are some of the principal concerns not just to a few countries. Creative diversity of cultures has been recognized as one of the top priorities by UNESCO and the entire international community (UNESCO, 1995). The consequences of such priorities are reflected in the growing need for education and communication as necessary requirements in the current situation for raising awareness and building up the necessary know-how and capacities. Modern conservation does not mean a return to the past; rather, it demands courage to undertake sustainable human development within the reality and the potential of existing cultural, physical and environmental resources.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment