The Second World

The Second World War (1939-45) was more destructive than the first; in France alone, about 460 000 buildings were destroyed, and about 15 per cent of the listed buildings were damaged - half of them seriously. Many important historic cities suffered major damage, including London, Berlin, Dresden, Hildesheim, Warsaw, Saint-Malo, Florence. In December 1944, the decision was taken to rebuild the historic centre of Warsaw, and in February 1945 the town was again declared the capital of Poland. The reconstruction was justified by its national significance for the identity of the Polish people, and it was possible due to the existing measured drawings, prints, paintings (e.g., Bernardo Bellotto) and other pre-war documentation. The new Warsaw, however, corresponds to the old town mainly externally; many changes were made in the interiors to accommodate modern facilities. The effort to rebuild Warsaw as a national monument has been recognized as an event of special significance. In a report in 1949, Stanislav Lorentz, the Director General of Museums and the Protection of Historic Monuments, stated that 'by reconstructing historic buildings we at least save the authentic remains of the original edifices'.26 In 1978, the reconstructed centre of Warsaw was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its 'outstanding universal value'.

The huge reconstruction effort that had to be carried out was accompanied by debates about approaches to different situations. Similar problems had of course been discussed after the First World War, when, in Belgium, it had been decided that it was not possible to leave the country as a cemetery but that reconstruction was necessary. In most cases this was done in modern forms; exceptionally,

Figure 9-42 Albania, the historic centre of Berat was protected as a museum city on 2 June 1961
Figure 9.43 Fredericksburg, Virginia, has been protected as a preservation district. The policies are promoted especially by local preservation societies

as in Louvain, it was a faithful replication of historic forms.27 The different alternatives ranged from a full replica of the destroyed historic structures, as in Warsaw and Saint-Malo (France), to reconstruction in contemporary architectural forms. This last alternative was adopted in London in the area of Saint Paul's, which was rebuilt as modern office blocks in a manner that has been severely criticized in the 1990s. The ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral were respected, and a modern design was selected for the new cathedral. Also in the case of Rotterdam, a modern solution was chosen for the reconstruction of the totally destroyed city; this has since become a classic reference for contemporary town planning.

Between these two extremes, there were many solutions that were tested in restoration and partial reconstruction in the post-war period - not necessarily related to war destruction. In Louvain, in the 1950s, the nephew of Canon Lemaire, Professor Raymond Lemaire (1921-97), future Secretary General and President of ICOMOS, was involved in various restoration projects. While emphasizing respect for the original material, it was often decided to remove surface renderings to expose the underlying brick or stone structures, and to try to enhance the appreciation of the original spatial quality of the buildings. This was the case, for example, in the Grand Beguinage in the historic centre of Louvain, rehabilitated for the use of the Catholic University in the 1960s. This project has been claimed to be the first where the 'potential combination of monument preservation and modern practical use was proved' (De Naeyer, 1980:155; Linstrum, 1983:91ff.). In the case of Strasbourg, the restorers looked for a compromise, and restorations were integrated with modern buildings respecting the relevant urban scale.

In many cases, like in Orleans, the old streets were widened and some historic elevations were rebuilt. Occasionally, surviving old buildings could also be removed to a new site if convenient for new town plans. In Hildesheim, the important Romanesque churches were rebuilt in simplified forms respecting the prewar restoration criteria. The destroyed parts of the historic city were rebuilt in modern forms but retaining the old street pattern. In the 1980s, instead, the criticism against the new constructions justified the second reconstruction of the centre square, where the 1950s architecture was replaced with replicas of the old buildings. One can see this as a national monument with a specific political message that goes beyond ordinary restoration. The same could be said of the Frauenkirche in Dresden, which remained in ruins since the war; its reconstruction in the old form as another national monument for German unification was started in the early 1990s.

In Nuremberg, the churches and fortifica

Figure 9-44 After destruction in the Second World War, the historic centre of Hildesheim was first rebuilt in contemporary forms in the 1950s; subsequently these were replaced with replicas of historic buildings in the 1980s

tions were restored as historic monuments, while the city centre was rebuilt in modern architectural forms, but respecting the scale, pattern and materials of the destroyed old town. In Dresden, Magdeburg, Naumburg and Munich, there is a wide range of examples from neutral reintegration to full reconstruction.28 An interesting example is the triumphal arch, the Siegestor by Friedrich von Gärtner, where one side was rebuilt with remaining elements while the other was left as a fragment with an inscription about the new meaning29 (see Figure 10.3). Also in Italy, the destruction came as a shock to the people. An immediate reaction by many was the idea of rebuilding and restoration even if against established guidelines. It is here that the emerging principles of 'restauro critico' were tested and clarified, as has been noted in the previous chapter.

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