Anonymous, 21st century: contemporary interpretation of a Baroque motive for the window of an interbellum building. Sibiu / Hermannstadt, 11 (18th century) and 13 (20th century) Alexandru Dimitrie Xenopol Street. August 2018. Photo by H. Derer
Frumusetea Patrimoniului Construit este Obiectiva?
S t e f a n G h e n c i u l e s c u
Here’s an awfully tired story: the term “Gothic” was coined in Classicist times in order to define a style so brutally ugly that it could only be linked to the most barbaric culture. It shows that if we, as a society, don’t appreciate a building, neighborhood or city, well, then they just don’t become (or remain) a piece of heritage.
To be honest, there are, of course, some qualities that stand a good chance that almost guarantee heritage status:
# Old age: even in today’s world, when listing has reached the 70s and even 80s, the older (and also more rare or even unique) a construction, the more appreciated it is. That works for every context, with antiquity a rock-solid value; well, unless you are from Isis or Al Qaeda, whose definition of heritage is quite narrow.
#Positive beauty: the term invented by Claude Perrault and roughly similar to “objective” comprises qualities that somehow define good value and beauty regardless of culture type or level: good construction and durability, impressive size, rich ornaments and precious materials etc. It helps to understand that Gothic churches were not demolished because they could serve well and would have been too difficult to replace. This is also why almost everybody loves Ceausescu’ Palace or why modernist buildings, “plain” and in a bad state, are so hard to protect.
# It’s mine (ours): this relates to a small or national, or transnational community’s warm relation to a particular piece; this has a lot to with belonging and identity, which are never objective, but also with the level of education and taste. Some buildings are only appreciated by an elite; Or, at least at the beginning, as I would strongly emphasize: instead of just whining about people’s cold heart for (a certain) heritage, we should relentlessly shout how good, beautiful, identity-bearing and potentially money-bringing it is.
Architect by education and specialized equally in history of architecture and preservation of cultural heritage, Hanna Derer is professor within the “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urban Planning in Bucharest. Her research has materialized in studies for both fields of expertise, books, articles or contributions to different national and international symposia. Most of the results are being integrated within her teaching for students, whether from Romania, Belgium, Germany, Japan or Great Britain.