Conservation meetings

On the basis of the proposal of a committee, of which Clemen also was a member, it was decided that regular meetings should be organized for the conservationists of all German states. These events were called Tage für Denkmalpflege ('Days for Conservation'), and became yearly events, the first being organized on the invitation of Cornelius Gurlitt in Dresden in 1900.16 In this first meeting, Clemen gave an international panorama of the situation of protection of historic buildings in Europe, completed by Gurlitt on questions of inventories. These seminars, which continued as yearly events until the 1920s, gave an excellent opportunity for the representatives of different states to compare and exchange experiences, to discuss the principles, inventories, the administrative and legal questions, which were of special interest in this period when many states were in the process of getting their legal protection in force. Concerning the approaches to historic structures, there were clearly two lines, one in favour of conservation, the other of restoration.

In the 1900 meeting in Dresden, Baurath Paul Tornow-Metz, one of those who favoured restoration in the 'spirit of the ancients', proposed some principles that aimed at the preservation of the historic character and a full respect for the original. The only exception would be 'the correction of structural errors, and the unquestionable improvement of the technical value' of the building. He gave attention especially to questions of style. The first principle was that conservation is extended to all monuments that belong to 'historic styles', (i.e., from the oldest times to the end of the eighteenth century); second, all styles should be considered equal from the conservation point of view. He further recommended that monuments should be treated with respect: no change of old forms, use of durable materials in restoration, preparation of a good documentation with measured drawings, descriptions, casts and photographs, taking replaced originals to museums, and publication of a chronicle of works. He recommended that, after the restoration, regularly repeated, detailed inspections should be continued on the whole building. Although these guidelines sound modern in their concepts, Tornow and many of his colleagues were still well within the area of stylistic restoration.

Another question that came up in the meetings was the division of historic monuments in categories: 'the dead' and 'the living'. This issue had been discussed at the sixth international congress of architects in Madrid, 1904, and was again touched on by Professor

C. Weber, from Danzig, in his paper on the question of style in integrations, in Trier in 1909.

(A) Considering dead buildings: 1) 'pure ruins' with no specific artistic value could be left with minimum protection; 2) 'dead buildings', still with a roof but no use, should be maintained so as not to become ruins; 3) 'dead buildings' of great artistic and historic value, such as the castle of Heidelberg, needed to be considered in detail case by case, but to leave them to 'beautiful death' would be ridiculous.

(B) Dealing with 'living buildings', i.e., buildings used for their intended function, priority should be given to artistic values; 'the aim of any such restoration must be, that at the completion of the works - and I think of churches - when the building is handed over to the parish, the impact on the layman, to whom the work is intended anyway, must be the same as when looking at a new church'.17

The removal of Baroque altars from the cathedrals of Strasbourg, Augsburg, Cologne and from the Frauenkirche of Munich, was for him 'an artistic act', necessary for the appreciation of the sense of monumentality in these buildings, one of the main competencies of the architect.

This approach to reviving a historic building in its artistic appearance at the cost of its historic and archaeological values, was claimed to represent the 'historical school' in restoration. The 'modernist school', instead, wanted to keep the historical integrity of the building. When additions were needed, these should be made in the style of the day, following the approach of William Morris and Camillo Boito. The problem was that many did not accept that there was such a thing as 'modern style'! Dr Cornelius Gurlitt, from Dresden, was convinced that future generations would be critical about the destructions that had been made in the name of style in the nineteenth century, and he was especially concerned about cases where the old object had been corrected in the restoration so as to be 'completely right'. Apart from having destroyed 'irreplaceable nationally significant values', the restorers had introduced an

Figure 7.11 The courtyard of Heidelberg Castle, subject to restoration debate in the late nineteenth century. The much-discussed ottheinrichsbau is on the right.

element of uncertainty into these buildings; 'how far they really are venerable monuments, and how far they are works of the nineteenth century!' There had been few attempts so far to try to introduce the expression of our day to restoration, he noted, and such things should not be met with mockery.18

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