Historic Urban Landscape: Managing Heritage in an Urban Century

Bandarin, Francesco and Van Oers, Ron, 2012, Historic Urban Landscape: Managing Heritage in an Urban Century, John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex

INTRODUCTION

Authenticity

  • Cities are dynamic organisms – there is not a single ‘historic’ city in the world that has retained its ‘original’ character: the concept is a moving target, destined to change with society itself.
  • Therefore, authenticity is a myth: important conservation objectives such as the safeguarding of the authenticity or integrity of the physical and social fabric of an urban complex are doomed to remain a myth, or at best, an approximation
  • The goal of conserving traditional structures in the historic city remains an aspiration that is subject to continuous compromise and adaptation.

Conservation is a utopia: collective aspiration

  • Utopias are collective representations of communities or societies, idealised conditions expressing shared value systems and common goals
  • Certain values are guardians of collective identity and memory and help to maintain a sense of continuity and tradition for aesthetic pleasure and entertainment.

Old and new

  • Historic fabric and new development can interact and mutually reinforce their role and meaning

Historic development

  • Contemporary attempts to reintegrate urban conservation principles and practices into urban development
  • Idea of urban conservation can be traced back to French Revolution time and the emergence of a new social order in Europe during the 19th century
  • A century later, a formal theory of urban conservation was developed in Europe.
  • It then took longer to define and put into practice the necessary legal and institutional measures
  • The Modern Movement gave additional impetus to many urban removal and renewal programmes worldwide
  • In the past 50 years, a thorough revision at the international level of the architectural and urban planning paradigms defined by the Modern Movement has taken place and a strong institutional and professional system has been established to support heritage conservation.
    • Toolkit: international legal instruments (e.g. 1972 World Heritage Convention)
    • Planning frameworks
  • Today this process has reached a peak.
  • Growing awareness of the challenges urban conservation faces in the coming decades, as new processes and forces of change gather momentum
  • Historic urban conservation has become a specialised field of practice but is also isolated from the management of urban processes
    • Need for an integrated view of urban management, one that harmonises preservation of what is defined as ‘historic’ and management of urban development and regeneration processes
    • The system in place is weak and powerless in the face of the types of change that characterise our contemporary world and its urban scene
    • Most important historic urban areas in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Islamic World have lost their traditional functions and are in the process of transformation that threatens to undermine their integrity and historic, social and artistic values
  • 2011: Historic Urban Landscape adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO
    • Response to existing cultural contexts in order to identify models adapted to the value systems of different traditions
      • g. Nara Document on Authenticity in 1994
    • Define operational principles able to ensure urban conservation models that respect the values, traditions and environments of different cultural contexts
    • Recognise and position the historic city as a resource for the future
  1. URBAN CONSERVATION: SHORT HISTORY OF A MODERN IDEA
  • The basis of the modern vision of cultural heritage was developed in recognition of the value of the historic monument
  • The notion of ‘heritage’ came about during the establishment of modern nation states and the need to define their own traditions and identities
    • As a way of celebrating national epics and to create traditions (Hobsbawn, 1983)
  • The safeguarding of ‘historic monuments’ has bene at the centre of the theory and practice of conservation over the last century. This influenced the approach to historic cities that focused primarily on monuments and less on the urban fabric and public spaces.
    • Institutions:
      • Commission des Monuments Historiques, France, 1837, developed further by Prosper Mérimée
      • Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, UK, 1877, created by William Morris
    • People: Victor Hugo
  • Public policies for the city were aimed mainly (not at cities but) at addressing the representation of the powers of the state, the modernisation of transport systems, the improvement of public spaces, the residential needs of the emerging upper and middle classes and improvement of housing conditions of the working classes
    • The historic city was viewed essentially as a place of physical and moral decay
    • Denunciation of these conditions by (famously)
      • Engels about England (1845)
      • Considérant about France (1848)
    • Gave rise to a wave of innovative and utopian experiments led by social thinkers, philanthropists and politicians; utopian responses to the crisis, which inspired important social reforms and represented a key contribution to the definition of modern urban planning principles
      • Phalansère of Fourier
      • New Lanark of Robert Owen
      • How they did not create a force of change for the historic city as powerful as that of the ‘urban engineers’ movement
    • Urban engineers movement
      • Remedy the unsanitary conditions of the working classes
      • Demolish large parts of the historic city to create better housing, open spaces and sanitation infrastructure (in place in emerging world including China)
      • Every industrialising country developed regulations and plans to clear the decayed parts of the city
        • Florence in Italy, 1865, old Piazza del Mercato Vecchio (Jewish ghetto) was replaced by the present Piazza della Repubblica, wiping out the medieval quarters and the old ghetto. This risanamento (sanitisation) subsequently served as a model for many other cities, both in Italy and elsewhere.
  • Grands Travaus, Baron Haussmann, Paris, 1850-1870
    • Not aimed at local situations but to redesign the entire city
    • Replicated in the historic centre of Rome, after 1870 when it became capital of Italy
    • Cairo, Teheran, Sofia and Istanbul, as well as many colonial capitals in the Mediterranean
    • ‘Haussmannian’ methods have never really disappeared (urban historian Spiro Kostof)
      • Traces in Robert Moses in New York, 1950s
      • Many urban renewal projects in Europe, America and other parts of the world in the post-WWII period as well as Asia currently
    • ‘Institutionalisation’ of heritage (that followed the French Revolution)
      • Was society’s response and testimony of its value in the public domain
      • Concepts of heritage mostly developed (150 years ago) by a group of theoreticians and administrators, who viewed the preservation of monuments of the past as a pillar of social and cultural development.
        • John Ruskin
        • William Morris
        • Romantic approach was a form of opposition to the ongoing modernisation and destruction brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
        • Contributed to the development of the notion of ‘common’ heritage, beyond national borders
      • Clashes between different conceptions of heritage (nostalgic and interventionist)
        • Ruskin in England, Seven Lamps of Architecture
          • Romantic & memorial
          • ‘Neither by the public, nor by those who have the care of public monuments, is the true meaning of the word restoration understood. It means the most total destruction which a building can suffer: a destruction out of which no remnants can be gathered: a destruction accompanied with false description of the thing destroyed. Do not let us deceive ourselves in this important matter; it is impossible, as impossible as to raise the dead, to restore anything that has ever been great or beautiful in architecture.’
        • Militant interventionism by Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-Le-Duc, France
          • Restoration was the reconstitution of a ‘complete’ and ‘ideal’ state of the monument, one that perhaps never existed.
          • Dictionnaire Raisonnè
          • Not only to monuments such as Notre Dame but also reconstruction of the city of Carcassonne
          • Entretiens sur l’architecture, 1863-1872
            • Fundamental book for understanding how the social and technological changes of the 19th century transformed the role of architecture and the city
          • Sought to find a method to identify the continuities of architectural development, in order to establish the basis of a practice that would allow modern society to find its own language, beyond the many revivals of the time – opened a way to a modern interpretation of architectural and urban heritage
        • Developed by Austrian architect Camillo Sitte, City Planning According to Artistic Principle. The richly illustrated book pointed out that the urban room around the experiencing man should be the leading motif of urban planning, thus turning away from the pragmatic, hygienic planning procedures of the time. Sitte emphasized the creation of an irregular urban structure, spacious plazas, enhanced by monuments and other aesthetic elements.
      • Key theoretical development: Viennese art historian, Alois Riegl
        • Ideas defined the role of heritage in contemporary society and still form the basis of our theories of heritage conservation
        • The Modern Cult of Monuments: 2 categories of value of heritage
          • Memory: ‘antiquity’ of heritage as a factor of importance, value of antiquity easily accessible to the public
          • Contemporary: ‘use value’ of monuments, a character that allows them to be differentiated from archaeology and ruins
            • ‘Art value’ and ‘Newness value’ (untouched appearance of the work of art)
          • Brought about a fundamental conceptual innovation: interpreting the conservation of monuments through a theory of values
          • Intellectual ambition: cultural tourism – the growing interest of the general public in the values of antiquity
            • Heritage is finally associated with modernity
          • The historic city as heritage
            • The historic city was recognised as a heritage system only towards the end of the 19th Only in the second half of the 20th century did the conservation of historic cities become a subject for planners and architects
            • Urban organism with its dual nature of place, containing monuments of great symbolic and artistic value, as well as a fabric of ‘minor’ architecture, the vernacular, which is much more exposed to transition and substitution. The lack of interest in, and knowledge of, this fabric, of cadastres and technical documentation, was a factor in this significant lag.
            • Development of a new discipline: city planning = parallel development of an ‘operational’ concept of the historic city
            • Foremost urban thinker of the time: Camillo Sitte (1843-1903)
              • Historic city carried with it an ‘aesthetic’ value, superior to that of the modern city – paves the way for development of urban conservation practice
              • Sitte looks at the city for the first time as an historical continuum that must be fully understood in its morphological and typological development, in order to derive rules and models for the development of the modern city.
              • Rational, model
            • Followers:
              • Werner Hegemann, Germany
              • Raymond Unwin, England
              • Gustavo Giovannoni, Italy
              • Marcel Poëte, France
              • Charles Buls, Belgium
            • Radical departure from the approach of the urban ‘hygienists’ and defines the main goal of the planner and the architect as the art of marrying functional need and beauty, a programme and analytical method termed in different parts of Europe as ‘Art Public’ or ‘Civic Art’ or ‘Art Urbain’ and as the ‘City Beautiful Movement’ in America
            • Werner Hegemann: transformed Sitte’s proposals into a methodology of planning
              • The American VitruviusThe Handbook of Civic Art
              • Universality of the principles of urban creation
              • City as a continuous and incremental collage
            • Patrick Geddes: visual and aesthetic appreciation
              • City as an organism in evolution, where physical and social components interact in a complex web of change and tradition
              • Medieval city reinterpreted by Geddes as a continuously evolving context
              • Cities in Evolution
              • Identifies, for the first time, the genius loci, spirit of the place
              • The traces, memories and collective associations of values to space are key determinants of urban transformation
              • Conservative surgery: minimising the destruction of historic buildings and urban spaces to adapt them to modern requirements
                • Edinburgh, Dublin, India, Balrampur, Lahore
              • Integrate into the new design the values (aesthetic, functional and symbolic) embodied in the city as a result of its historic transformation
            • Ideas of Geddes played a role in the creation in 1920s, the Regional Planning Association of America, led by Clarence Stein and supported by Lewis Mumford
              • Opposed land speculation in favour of socially oriented planning
              • Most influential advocacy group
              • Acknowledged later as a reaction against the anti-historicist and functionalist approach of Modernism
            • Gustavo Giovannoni: technical approach to urban conservation: urban heritage
              • The historic city could still play an important role, not linked to production and communication, but rather to living and social exchange. The historic city, in this innovative concept, is seen as part of a network of urban functions, not just as a model for the creation of new urban centres, as in Sitte’s view, but as an area where new functions compatible with traditional urban morphology can be absorbed.
              • The aesthetic function, the beauty of the historic city, is an element that further strengthens this role and establishes a hierarchy and dialogue between old and modern urban forms.
              • A very important principle established by Giovannoni was the need to conserve the built ‘environment’ of historic monuments, the urban fabric that represents the layers of time, a clear position against the ‘dismemberment’ of buildings that was – and still remains in many parts of the world – an ‘easy’
              • Giovannoni was strongly opposed to the museum-like freezing of historic centres, a common practice at the time in Italy and other countries, consisting of the isolation of the historic fabric from contemporary life, and the creation of a specialised district used for tourism purposes
            • Fracture: The Modern Movement versus the Historic City
              • Movements such as the Arts and Crafts Movement in UK and America, the German Deutscher Werkbund and the Wierner Werkstatte in Vienna had renewed the language of architecture and urban design to cope with the needs of a new industrial society
              • Vers une Architecture, Le Corbusier, 1977
                • Urged architects to detach from models and styles of the past
                • Which were detached from the needs and realities of the present
              • CIAM, 1920s-1930s: destruction of the traditional city and the creation of a new modern urban complex, based on high-density public housing, with functional and innovative housing typologies and elaborate transport infrastructure
                • The Plan of Amsterdam of Cornelis van Eesteren (leading figure of CIAM)
              • Le Corbusier’s Athens Charter, 1943
                • The historic city is a negative model. A specific section of the document deals with urban heritage, seen essentially as a set of monuments, to be respected in the name of their historic and ‘sentimental’ value, surrounded by ‘slums’ that could be demolished, with the exception of some ‘samples’ that could be preserved for their documentary value.
                • Put in place completely: Chandigarh and Brasilia
              • Rejection of the ‘layering’ process as the basis for the quality of urban spaces and the role of established social networks in shaping development patterns.
            • Athens Charter – the start of modern conservation, Athens Conference 1931
              • Importance only increased after WWII, with the adoption of 1964 Venice Charter and the growth of an international conservation movement under the aegis of UNESCO
            • New Approaches to Urban Conservation
              • First process: reaction against Modernism
                • The poor quality of modern urban spaces exposed the contrast between new developments and the historic city, where, in spite of poor housing conditions, urban spaces were far more enjoyable.
                  • Jane Jacobs in America
                • Second process: growth of an international conservation movement
                • Giancarlo De Carlo (part of Team 10): favoured citizen participation and consensus as a tool of planning and architectural design
                  • Sought to reflect the nature of the context, with its cultural, physical and historical components.
                  • Address the issue of contemporary design in the historic city in ways adapted to the realities of modern democratic societies
                  • Master Plan for the town of Urbino (new university buildings into the urban landscape)
                • Hassan Fathi, southern Egypt, 1945, vernacular architecture and informal settlement
                  • Architecture for the Poor, 1973
                  • Informal settlement and the value of traditional knowledge and techniques
                  • Recognised as a precursor of the urban management ideals that took shape at the end of Modernism.
                • John Turner, UK
                  • Many years of field experience in Latin America
                  • Self-help and self-building – rediscovering local traditions as a tool to preserve the social and physical integrity of places, while providing affordable shelter
                  • Housing is best managed by inhabitants rather than external planners
                  • The developed world has much to learn from the developing context and that the ‘freedom to build’ was the way to value local experience over the technocratic approach of traditional planning
                  • Reinforced the view that urban conservation must be participatory
                  • Establishing the preservation of the social fabric of the historic city as one of the most important goals of planning
                • Conzen, later developed by Whitehand, UK (urban geographer), palimpsest
                  • City as the outcome of an historical layering process
                  • Object: dynamics of urban space, a study of the marks left on the landscape by every phase of society, and of the forms that reflect the needs of its day
                  • Up until the 20th century, in most of the world, the relationship between townscape and ‘occupant’ society did not witness any tensions that were able to threaten the physiognomy of the towns.
                    • This allowed the townscape to be historic, even though it is still current – accumulation through time a variety of historical forms and meanings
                  • Managing the townscape as palimpsest
                    • Analytical tools based on:
                    • Understanding of the complex morphological processes (including building fabric, building types, plot patterns, blocks and street patterns)
                  • Limited practical applications
                • Saverio Muratori, Italian school of architectural typological and morphological analysis, 2950s and 1960s
                  • Typo-morphological analysis to understand the evolution of urban form
                  • Continued by Gianfranco Caniggia
                    • Tried to relate every building type to a limited number of basic spatial configurations, called Basic Elements
                  • Leonardo Benevolo, conservation plans for Bologna and many other historic cities
                    • The typo-morphological approach proved extremely effective in guiding decisions on the conservation and renewal processes of the historic fabric, used as a basis for planning and management of the building transformation process.
                  • Using perception as a tool of interpretation and design of space – integrated city planning and conservation
                    • Gordon Cullen, UK
                      • Visual impact of the city on the human mind
                      • Analysis of the individual’s memory and sensorial experiences
                      • City as a particular form of landscape
                      • Analysis involved all the elements that make up the environment: buildings, trees, nature, water, traffic, etc.
                      • Define a design methodology that extends beyond the mere ‘technical’ aspects of city making and defines an ‘art’ that is able to integrate building and environment
                      • City is not a unitary space (a townscape) – need to learn from the historical spatial layering of the historic city
                    • Kevin Lynch, USA
                      • Aim to define a systematic theory of the city
                      • The Image of the City, 1960
                      • New object of research for the planner: the mental image
                      • Lynch studies the interaction between individuals and the environment, something that belongs to all the inhabitants, and does not require the mediation of a technical expert
                      • Classification of the ‘elements of city image’, a new form of urban morphology derived from the individual’s view, in which the time dimension of the urban experience has a fundamental role.
                      • Questions some fundamental axioms of conservation – What to preserve? Why? How should change be managed?
                      • Concluded that the ability to select the elements to be preserved and to manage change is preferable to an inflexible reverence for the past. Preservation choices should be informed more by concern for the future rather than for the past.
                    • Typo-morphological: too deterministic and its application excessively mechanistic