11.20 RePAD: Rehabilitation, Patrimony, Architecture, Development
The twenty-first century finds society in the middle of three major crises: due to technological development and population growth, it becomes necessary to create new jobs and to reinvente the existing ones. The economic crisis of late 2007 has given rise to major changes in the business environment. Not least, amid publicized global warming in an effort to find the most effective sustainable solutions, the problem of sustainable development began to preoccupy more and more fields. Addressed in an intelligent way, the rehabilitation of architectural heritage may create new jobs, can have a positive economic impact and can be an ecological model. The protection of our cultural heritage demands an important amount of responsibility and it is difficult to be qualified based on objective or quantitative criteria. It is a matter of education, it involves a certain type of community DNA and it follows an evolutionary path according to economical, technological, political factors, a particular type of vision in a specific moment. Nobody said it is easy to protect heritage, but is it worth it?
Caught in the hive of our daily activities, we tend to see culture as something optional, or facultative. And from this point of view, most of the time, the value of culture comes down to money: are there, or are there not, funds for culture? Even when they exist, heritage value becomes a cost in itself: we invest in heritage in order to develop local economy. Nowadays, still, this is a typical perspective, especially in developing countries. The experience of the last decades in “mature” countries began to reveal the negative aspects of this approach and there are some worrying conclusions related to the impact on the society’s development. Yes, a place that functions based on the cultural tourism brings important revenues to the state economy, but who are those actually living those places? Who is buying and who is living inside architectural heritage? Do we still have a constant living and by what means? Or do we tend to transform historical centres into open air museums in which visitors just wander around? What is happening with the memory of those places, of those local communities?
We start raising new questions and a new crisis starts to take shape. We begin to put this in the context of related fields, such as education, environment, climate change, economy, social stratification, local traditions, political background, and we become aware of the necessity of a new and better integrated approach. At the same time, we realize the importance of not rushing when dealing with sustainable solutions. If only for a moment, we might see heritage as a social dynamic factor on the axis of time, positioning ourselves into the present, dragging a line over what cultural heritage brought to us and then moving ourselves into the future. In imagining the actual actions as part of future generations heritage, maybe, we could be more aware of our role not as cultural consumers but intermediators. Just as with our predecessors, who inherited and produced patrimony for us, it is our responsibility to continue this logical thread. Retrieving cultural heritage and passing it on is not just an option, it is the main responsibility. Our role is not to produce money through culture, but to use money in order to develop inherited culture for later on.
RePAD aims to provide an overview of the sustainable integration of architectural heritage in the urban development process, in order to: contribute to the development of a community of specialists better informed and to create a better level of interdisciplinary communication; support real-estate investors in developing sustainable architectural rehabilitation projects in line with current trends; ensure good communication with local authorities for the development of strategies in relation to the architectural heritage; and create supporting documents for the local community concerning the proper manners of intervention on architectural heritage.