ArgumentNo. 3/2011

BUILT HERITAGE VALUES AND CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE – debate subject proposal

Abstract

The end of this science communication session is reserved to the debate of an issue of great importance for Romanian architecture: the area of interaction between contemporary architecture and built heritage. The situation of built heritage and protected areas – oftentimes context, background or even subject of intervention for contemporary architecture – is worth examining in detail. More often than not, this situation is paradoxical. Especially for projects tasked with the difficult endeavour of harmonizing an architectural monument and a new intervention, the outcome is frequently detrimental to the monument, by either neglect or improper treatment. Other times, its presence and cultural significance - working in conjunction with the restrictions applied to any new interventions – are perceived as obstructing architectural creativity. In normal circumstances, this relationship should be one of reciprocal enhancement.

The management and protection of the built heritage and the practice of architecture – regularly in a misunderstood conflictual rapport with sites of historical, cultural and stylistic importance and character – raise numerous issues. A rift exists between contemporary Romanian architecture and built heritage, a mutually damaging disagreement. We can look at this problem from various perspectives – architectural and urbanistic, legislative and institutional – while trying to pinpoint the origin of this rift. This is where contemporary architecture comes into play: it must remain essentially modern without resorting to self-effacing pastiches, and coexist with the built heritage in a non-harmful manner. The greatest challenge? Maintaining contemporary architectural identity and revitalising the built heritage by weaving new connections with the city, people and lifestyle of today. Built heritage values and contemporary architecture, where to?

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