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New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

CIP A 2003 XIX th International Symposium, 30 September - 04 October, 2003, Antalya, Turkey
Nevertheless, a closer examination of international charters and
other documents related to the conservation of historic heritage
reveals that authenticity and integrity are in fact
interchangeable or differentiated with a degree of ambiguity
increasingly. Meanwhile, the basic reference to related
geographic confines has also expanded from a historical site to
a place of cultural heritage.
It is proposed here that an understanding of the correlation
between the two parallel threads of changes will reveal the role
yet to be play by the host community and the potential
contribution by multimedia technology in preserving historic
urban habitats as living places through the dynamics of changes.
2.1 A Selective Review: From Athens Charter to Nara
In accordance with the Athens Charter for the Restoration of
Historic Monuments adopted at the First International Congress
of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments in 1931
(The Athens Charter), historical sites are to receive strict
custodial protection while areas surrounding historic sites
should also be protected. In the Athens Charter, the concept of
integrity, both historical and aesthetic, makes its first
appearance without the use of the specific term. As one of the
two general principles, the Charter recommends that, in the case
of restoration, “the historic and artistic work of the past should
be respected, without excluding the style of any given period.'"
In other words, historic integrity is implied whereby the current
form of a heritage resource should bear the imprint of growth
and changes over time.
Similarly, a demand for aesthetic integrity is also implied. With
regard to the aesthetic enhancement, the Athens Charter
recommends that new constructions should respect “the
character and external aspect of the cities.” Special
consideration is placed on the area surrounding ancient
monuments where particular groupings and picturesque
perspective treatment need be preserved. To preserve the
ancient character of artistic and historic monuments, it is
further recommended that care be extended to vegetation and
the exclusion of any impairing constructions and elements -
visual or audio alike.
However, the term integrity did not make its official debut until
1964, with the charter produced at the Second International
Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments
held in Venice (The Venice Charter). Most significantly, the
Venice Charter establishes that the underlying intention in
conserving and restoring monument is to safeguard them as
historical evidence as much as works of art. Accordingly, the
integrity of the physical setting in terms of scale, the relations
of massing, color, layout and assorted appendages is stressed
with regard to conservation. In relation to restoration, it is
recommended that instead of aiming at a unity of style, valid
contributions of all periods should be respected. Furthermore,
additions will be allowed only when they compliments a
monument’s “traditional setting, the balance of its composition
and its relation with its surroundings.” The foregoing principles
are to be applied to the conservation and preservation of historic
sites — defined as the sites of monuments.
Along with integrity, the term authenticity also enters into
officialdom with the Venice Charter. In the preamble of the
landmark charter, the current generation is called upon to
deliver the ancient monuments “in the full richness of their
authenticity” to posterity. Specifically, the charter asserts that
with regard to restoration, “It must stop at the point where
conjecture begins, and, moreover, any extra work which is
indispensable must be distinct from the architectural
composition and must bear a contemporary stamp.” For nearly
three decades that followed, authenticity defined as such
became the supreme doctrine for historic restoration.
The focus on historic areas and their surroundings is
continued in the Recommendation concerning Safeguarding and
Contemporary Role of Historic Areas presented at the General
Conference of the UNESCO in Nairobi, 1976 (The Nairobi
Recommendation). Among the categories of areas recognized
are urban quarters as well as historic towns. These historic and
architectural areas are recognized for their archaeological,
architectural, prehistoric, historic, aesthetic or socio-cultural
values. Accordingly, aside from the architectural framework
acknowledged in the preceding charters, the Nairobi
Recommendation also acknowledges a related social and
economic context for historic conservation. In defining the parts
that compose the whole, the guideline stresses that “human
activities as much as the buildings, the spatial organization
and the surroundings” should be included.
Most significantly, the importance of diversity is highlighted.
Historic areas are viewed as “part of the daily environment” and
that “they provide the variety in life's background needed to
match the diversity of society, and that by so doing they gain in
value and acquire an additional human dimension.”
In 1979, the concept of places of cultural significance, or
historic places with cultural value, was introduced with the
first version of Burra Charter adopted by Australia 1COMOS
(The Burra Charter). The charter was later revised in 1981, 1988
and, most recently, 1999. The charter also asserts that cultural
significance, i.e., aesthetic, historic, scientific, social or spiritual
value for past, present or future generations, is embodied in the
place itself and its fabric, setting, use, associations, meanings,
records, related places and related objects.
By definition, place refers to site, area, land, landscape, building
or other work, group of buildings or other works, and may
include components, contents, spaces and views. Specifically,
elements of place may include memorials, trees, gardens, parks,
places of historical events, urban areas, towns, industrial places,
archaeological sites and spiritual and religious places. While
setting means the area around a place, which may include the
visual catchment, the fabric of a place covers all the physical
material of the place, including components, fixtures, contents,
and objects. Also included are building interiors, sub-surface
remains, and excavated material.
Subsequently, in the ICOMOS Charter for the
Conservation of Historic Towns and Urban Areas
adopted in Washington, D. C. (The Washington Charter),
the conservation of historic towns and urban areas assumes the
central role. The new charter brings into focus the values of
traditional urban cultures embodied in these areas that are
being endangered by the dramatic advancement of urbanization
at the heels of industrialization. Specific references are made to
the Nairobi Recommendation, emphasizing that the
conservation of historic towns and urban areas should also
ensure “their development and harmonious adaptation to
contemporary life.” The close interconnection between historic
conservation and every level of urban planning is further
reaffirmed and elaborated, and a multidisciplinary planning
approach accentuated.