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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
is only a small one, it will often suffice to adapt the existing
buildings only. In other cases, the market situation gives greater
leeway, making it possible to consider alternatives such as
demolition and new building. This kind of development is often
accompanied by an expansion of the overall building volume
and an increased density of building. In its most extreme form,
the urban structure may itself be modified, (figure 3)
The general rule that changing function and status are followed
by spatial changes does not apply to the historic inner city. The
spatial characteristics of the centre are stable in character. This
is largely related to the complexity of the spatial changes.
Changes in other urban areas and extensions to the total city
area are vastly simpler to carry out; investments in outer areas
carry less risk and are therefore more attractive to developers.
The high level of risk puts a brake on improvements to inner
city locations. The relative market position of the historic centre
is changes rapidly precisely because, from a spatial viewpoint,
too much stays the same.
The spatial stability of the city centre is not only a result of the
complexity of change. The urban structure and the buildings
within that structure were realized in an era when the building
industry was organized into guilds. The patrons who ordered the
construction of many of the buildings in the historic centre were
church communities or wealthy burghers. The levels of
craftsmanship achieved would be almost impossible to match
today. These qualities have resulted in a unique spatial
ensemble which imposes restraint on anyone planning to initiate
spatial improvements.
If a similar spatial inertia prevailed in another part of the city, its
market position would deteriorate rapidly. It would run the risk
of decay and impoverishment. Changes in the functional
demands placed on the buildings and the urban environment in
these areas have to be followed closely by spatial and technical
adaptations. The historic centre forms an exception to this rule.
The historic structures and buildings are a communal good
which is not open to discussion. Both companies and
individuals are keen to take advantage of the available spatial
facilities. As Joel Kotkin points out, the companies concerned
are mainly small-scale enterprises which are offshoots of the
new economy.
This trend is largely explained by the specific identity of the
historic centre. ‘Identity’, according to Paul Meurs , (Meurs,
269) is that quality that transforms an arbitrary location into a
specific place. He cites the anonymous suburbs as exemplifying
places where there is a total lack of identity. He is partly correct.
However, those who grow up in suburbs, which others see as
monotonous, do perceive a local identity. It is made up of
personal experiences that have a direct relationship to the
location - not so much objective spatial characteristics as
individual experiences evoked by the place.
The increasing mobility of the native European population and
the increasing number of non-native Europeans has caused a
dislocation between spatial identity and the individual
experience. Yet there is a primary need for spatial landmarks
within the experiential world. The city centre has an important
function in this respect. It serves as an emblem for the modem
city that has developed around it. The modem, dislocated
European seeks terra firma in the historic inner city. The
monotony of the urban expansion areas of the last century,
particularly those dating from the period following the Second
World War, engenders psychological disorientation.
The historic city centre thus has an important communal
function, (figure 4) The extent to which that function can be
adequately fulfilled in the future depends strongly on how the
renewals, which must inevitably take place, will be
implemented. The worst mistake - one that can be fatal to the
qualities of the historic centre - is to approach the inner city
with the same strategy as other urban areas. That strategy
implies treating the city centre as a place where all metropolitan
activities must be concentrated. It will emerge that the urban
structure and buildings of the centre are absolutely unsuited to
those functions in spatial respects. If the chosen path is followed
rigorously, the physical developments that take place will result
in destruction of the inner city’s essential spatial characteristics.
The historic city centre is a place with unique qualities. Because
of that we have to be very careful. The old inner city area differs
from other urban areas especially in terms of small scale, fine
meshed structure and high differentiation. That differentiation
shows itself in a differentiated façade illustrating that the urban
tissue is build up of individual buildings. A strong mix of
functions also expresses that differentiation. The residential
function is often combined with different kinds of small-scale
business functions. The buildings show a long historic
background. The maintenance and improvement activities have
led to a differentiation in technical and functional condition.
The front door of each building is different. The façade picture
shows that every floor in the building has a different hight. The
windows of the lower floors are of different size then the
windows of floors above. These are only a few examples of
aspects on which the differentiation can be specified. Also
examples, which make clear that there is a high level of
differentiation in the historic city center, or so to speak, a high
‘differentiation density’.
The high differentiation density of the historic city centre is
possible only in the small-scale atmosphere that prevails there.
The differentiation density can be specified in terms of
functions, users, ownership types, the spatial design of the
buildings, the spatial structure of open space, population age
structure etc. It is the supremacy of the historic centre with
regard to differentiation density that gives the core its unique
attractiveness. In this respect, it is also distinct from all other
urban areas, (figure 5)
The urban areas outside the historic city center are approached
with strategies that can be specified in terms of maintenance,
improvement, restructuring, revitalization etc. In the strategies
brought into action to lead the historic center into the future
other concepts will be dominant. Those concepts should be
specified in terms of copy, conservation and restauration. In that
it is advisable to make a difference in the adaption of urban
structure and the adaption of the urban elements, like buildings.
For the identity of the historic inner city the intricate urban
structure is at least as important as the buildings, with a lot of
monuments among them. In the strategies for adaption of urban
areas the choice often is made for intensifying the use and
building density, because of financial arguments. Besides that
visions on the future urbanization are delivering arguments.
Supporters of the compact city concept will strive for
intensifying the use of the existing urban area. However if the
preservation of historic values is politically essential for the
society then the use of the historic center should be stabilized or
even decreased. That will lead to the need for more financial
support to do the necessary investments. In a period of
economic recession that is a difficult message.