The Preservation of Urban Heritage: An Idea from Modern Times
The opening statements of the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites commonly known as The Venice Charter 1964—tell us about the scope and depth of its origins. They express the concern for history and its material expressions, which is:
Imbued with a message from the past, the historic monuments of generations of people remain to the present day as living witnesses of their age-old traditions.1
They articulate the universality of the values of this heritage.
People are becoming more and more conscious of the unity of human values and regard ancient monuments as a common heritage.2
With these considerations in mind, the charter articulates the challenge for architects and technicians of historic monuments gathered in 1964 in Venice as holding:
The common responsibility to safeguard . . . [the historic monuments] . . . for future generations . . . [and] . . . to hand them on in the full richness of their authenticity.3
In its conceptual makeup, the charter is a product of its time. It is strongly influenced by the ideals of the international movement in architecture and is the embodiment of a reaction to the romantic reconstruction and improvement approach used by the conservators of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is evident in the charter’s call for the recourse to all the sciences in the practice of conservation and restoration in Article 2, and it is also present in many of its detailed recommendations. A few are worth mentioning: the monuments should be intervened with minimally, and any intervention should show respect for the original materials (Article 9); and when interventions are needed, each should bear a clear contemporary stamp so as to differentiate it from the monument’s original material(s) and/or design (Article 9).
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