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(Over) Restoration

 
Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#1 | Posted: 5 Jan 2011 13:59 
Heritage preservation is not a specialism of mine, but inevitably having a hobby like collecting WHS means I encounter it a fair bit.

One thing that always interests/ concerns me is restoration of heritage sites. I know this is a big issue in Heritage Management circles but I was wondering what the general World Heritage site visiting population feel about it.

On the whole I don't think I am a big fan of the rebuilding of sites. The one exception to this is if the destruction was caused recently by a large scale act of destruction e.g the rebuilding of Warsaw and Dresden after WWII.

I was prompted to think about this after visiting Hildesheim in Germany, where many of the buildings in the centre have been rebuilt, however they had the feeling of being imitations of older buildings. The interior of the WH listed St Michael's church had also been restored and it was a very impressive space, however the shiny new marble and clean cut corners made me feel like I was in a brand new town hall rather than in a millennia old church. Maybe it will weather in over time

The news item on Babylon being readied for nomination also gave me reasons for concern. To my eyes the Hussein era rebuilding of Babylon looks ghastly, but I wondered if others have the same ideas about this. I have heard that in the Far East, especially Japan, that rebuilding to a pristine example of the building is considered to be the best form of preservation. So I was wondering if it is just my own British take on heritage preservation that views rebuilding as not being the best route.

Also wondering if anyone has any good/ bad examples of restoration at WHS?

Author Durian
Partaker
#2 | Posted: 6 Jan 2011 09:18 | Edited by: Durian 
meltwaterfalls:
I have heard that in the Far East, especially Japan, that rebuilding to a pristine example of the building is considered to be the best form of preservation.


for restoration and authenticity, the Nara Document may give you some idea on this matter
http://www.international.icomos.org/charters/nara_e.htm

I understand that the reason behind the document is many buildings in Far East are made from wood and in the country like Japan, rebuilding is according to Shinto custom for example the rebuilding of Ise Shrine every 20 years, so the idea of preservation is totally different from other part of the world.

But in recent year, the whole reconstruction for restoration or preservation is not an ideal practice anymore, the restoration of Ginkakuji and Nishi Honganji of Kyoto are good example by just small amount of wood replacement and use some chemical instead to preserve the wood.

Actually the main concern in Far East should be the quality of restoration, the restoration of Great Wall and the Beijing Imperial Palace before the Olympic Game was quite infamous for harshly work.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#3 | Posted: 9 Jan 2011 03:13 
Herewith an article about the problems of Restoration/Preservation in Djenne. It demonstrates well the problems of maintaining "Authenticity". We perhaps sometimes forget that such problems don't just apply to cathedrals/castles and palaces etc - but also to ordinary "humble" homes in historic towns and cities. Apparently, to UNESCO and its agents, it means that the good people of Djenne are not allowed to "improve" their houses in any practical/economic sense.

Richer western countries have the same problem of course - to own a grade 2 listed building in UK is a life sentence of facing bureaucrats who will pass judgement on every last aspect of any change/improvement/repair one might want to do to the building. Their subjective judgements as to what is acceptable or not are "law. But at least the owner of such a building is likely to have enough money to afford the expensive "authentic" (which in the case of windows/stonework etc will mean bespoke and hand-made) materials required. In a poor country like Mali the people just want a few more rooms, tiled floors and better plumbing etc etc.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/world/africa/09mali.html

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#4 | Posted: 9 Jan 2011 03:14 
Herewith an article about the problems of Restoration/Preservation in Djenne. It demonstrates well the problems of maintaining "Authenticity". We perhaps sometimes forget that such problems don't just apply to cathedrals/castles and palaces etc - but also to ordinary "humble" homes in historic towns and cities. Apparently, to UNESCO and its agents, it means that the good people of Djenne are not allowed to "improve" their houses in any practical/economic sense.

Richer western countries have the same problem of course - to own a grade 2 listed building in UK is a life sentence of facing bureaucrats who will pass judgement on every last aspect of any change/improvement/repair one might want to do to the building. Their subjective judgements as to what is acceptable or not are "law. But at least the owner of such a building is likely to have enough money to afford the expensive "authentic" (which in the case of windows/stonework etc will mean bespoke and hand-made) materials required. In a poor country like Mali the people just want a few more rooms, tiled floors and better plumbing etc etc.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/world/africa/09mali.html

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#5 | Posted: 10 Jan 2011 18:01 
Thanks both, they are both very useful links.
Feel a little silly for not looking at the Nara Document whilst thinking of this, have encountered it a fair few times but never sat down to look at it properly.
That NYTimes one really puts some of our views in perspective, I must admit to feeling very sympathetic to them, and after re-reading Els' review I imagine it may be better to allow sewage pipes to be installed!

Author winterkjm
Partaker
#6 | Posted: 25 Feb 2011 15:50 | Edited by: winterkjm 
Like 'meltwaterfalls' I have issues with "over" restoration. Here is a complex example that is occuring now in Seoul under the direction of Mayor Oh Se-hoon.

Apparently Seoul seeks to nominate Seoul's Main Gates, City Fortress-walls, and Mt. Bukhan Fortress as a world heritage site in 2013.

I have been to Bukhan Fortress, and seen many sections of the old city walls. There are considerable remains of Bukhan fortress as well as walls that extend into Seoul. However, most were demolished early in the 20th century, particularly Seoul's City Walls. Furthermore, numerous section of the Bukhan Fortress Walls have been rebuilt or restored. (With more extensive plans already underway) Should Seoul nominate the sites that remain, leaving intact the integrity of the remaining structures? (there is around 10km of city wall left, signifigant sites in Mt. Bukhansan, and off course the 3 remaing gates of Seoul. Or should Seoul heavily restore portions of the city walls to connect the intact sections to form a complete encompasing city wall. Furthermore, Seoul plans to completely rebuild the East gate that was demolished a century ago, does this strengthen the nomination in UNESCO's point of view or weaken it? What is better heritage preservation?

Picture of Namdaemun Gate (Sungnyemun) after 2008 arson fire (Current structure built in 1447, a three year restoration project will be completed in 2012 to repair the severe 2008 fire damage)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sungnyemun,_11_February_2008.jpg

Picture of Dondaemun Gate (Heunginjimun) The Great East Gate (rebuilt in 1869)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Korea-Seoul-Dongdaemun_gate.jpg

Articles on the planned world heritage nomination, including the planned construction of the Great Western Gate Seodaemun (Donuimun) (Will be completed 2013)
http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2009/10/22/2009102200725.html

http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20091022000046

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 (Over) Restoration

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