- Hardcore Heritage: imagination for preservation
- Frontiers in Psychology
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- Interfacultary Research Institutes
- Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC)
Should the practice of the historic preservation of built and landscape heritage necessarily be based on conservation? Monuments, listed buildings, landscapes, and other forms of built heritage, are typically regarded as immutable and untouchable—objects to be “conserved”—and as a result tend to fade from public imagination and memory (Rietveld et al., 2017). Current conservative preservation practices tend to fixate built heritage into an arbitrary historical state (choosing for example the building's early seventeenth century state as the reference), which negates both the historical process that shaped it (and followed it), as well as any possibility for rendering it relevant for the present or to bring us further into the future. Instead of just halting decay, we argue that one should aim at generating meaning from the old for current and future generations. In order to achieve this, we need a radically new perspective on built cultural heritage, which can only be reached by approaching heritage in a different way: one that conceives of preservation as an effort toward imagination and activation, rather than conservation.
This view has been the motivation behind RAAAF's radical interventions in the field of heritage. RAAAF [Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances] is a multidisciplinary studio operating at the intersection of architecture, visual art and philosophy. One example (Figure 1) of such a new perspective on cultural heritage is Bunker 599, where RAAAF|Atelier de Lyon cut through a bunker that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage-nominated New Dutch Waterline. In a radical way this intervention sheds new light on the Dutch and UNESCO policies on cultural heritage. At the same time, it makes people look at their surroundings in a new way. The bunker becomes the entrance to an 80 km long potential park of the twenty-first century, the New Dutch Waterline Park. A seemingly indestructible bunker with monumental status is sliced open. Paradoxically, after the intervention Bunker 599 became a Dutch national monument, so it “increased” in monumental value. The strategic intervention (Rietveld E. et al., 2014) offers a new perspective on the other 700 bunkers in the New Dutch Waterline.
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