The Confederation of the International Centers for the Conservation of Architectural Heritage, CICOP.Net, was founded on the morning of January 9, 2012 in Florence, in the Palazzo Vegni of the University of Florence in the compartment
that has housed the operating center of its promotor CICOP.Italia,
founded 1994, for over ten years.
“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.” from the ”Inferno dei viventi” of Italo Calvino
AWARE PROTECTION AND COMPATIBLE ENHANCEMENT
OF THE CULTURAL HERITAGE
In the area of protection and restoration of cultural and natural heritage there persists for several decades a culture of labyrinth type, as an inevitable consequence of a complex world made up of social events, of economic and technological innovations that evolve rapidly and in an unpredictable way, influencing the institutional properties of the various organizational contexts.
One way to interpret the crisis emerged from the discussions that developed in the past decade, is to try to locate the new rules that govern our city and particularly our historic centers: market rules, competition rules, stock exchange rules, antitrust rules, and, at the same time, trying to understand the new needs that have emerged from social change processes arising from these new rules.
These needs are clearly identified in our days, and although they are present and widespread for a long time in our social reality, they have not yet taken institutionalized settings,. Thus, there is a need for:
Information: socially accessible decision-making in the areas of interventions for the protection and enhancement of the man-made environment and the natural one, in the fields of technological innovation for the conservation of the Values and in that of alternative energy sources.
Training: updating cultural and professional concerns to all actors of the process of redesign (entrepreneurs, professionals, administrators, users, etc...), as the current housing market, at least in Europe, is strongly influenced by the overall innovation capacity and competitiveness.
Culture of recovery and reuse, if we want to renew the existing one.
Belonging to a community of place and time in which to rediscover the cultural roots, a strong desire to recover and reconstruct paths and meanings, which could to be taken now to even a strategic dimension.
Filtering information, as a direct consequence of the strong growth in the last two decades of information technologies in the field of restoration.
Finally, there is a strong need for social interaction, which is a consequence of the limitation of direct contacts, that must be translated in parameters into the re-design of existing patrimony.
And it is another reason why in the historic centers, rich in evidence of the past, we are witness to new forms of conflict with the rules of administrative government, leading to regional and urban migration. It happens, therefore, that since we are not satisfied with the facilities offered, rather than enter into direct conflict with the authorities of belonging, we prefer to look for other places that provide a response to our needs.
The interpretation and analysis of these complex issues related to the phenomena of "globalization" that we all are witnessing, requires a careful study of complex phenomena that govern them. This seems to be feasible with more limited success in local environment (municipalities or regions), when they sectoriality of interests canbe overcome. The most advanced regional experiences in this regard are configured with systems that work to "network" and that provide:
- technical division of competences respecting the specialization of functions present in a certain place;
- horizontal frame of reference to a center with exclusive functions of coordination;
- flexibility of specialized functions in relation to the realization of synergies between agencies and organizations of various natures;
- enhancement of local technical and organizational resources, whilst fully respecting the peculiar characteristics of territory concerned.
The perspective indicated by the "networking systems" is an integrated system of procedures that connect otherwise dispersed and inefficient functions: public and private actors may be associated in a consortium to create a system of relationships - joint actions, enabling the initiation and realization of realistic intervention on the existing cultural heritage, which is highly significant for the local community.
This perspective is facilitated in small to medium historic centers and in the metropolitan suburbs, because it is possible to concentrate resources on a territory-system whose boundaries are already detectable, as well as latent structures of solidarity and experiences previously matured inside of one micro government planning. Vice versa, in historic cities like Florence, Lisbon, Prague, Sarajevo, Athens, this perspective is more complex. Research on European cities have shown a dichotomy between the logic of efficiency and performance and the daily realities of people often defined by loneliness, fear and silence.
The potentialities of a "local dimension" derive, not only from the more limited size of the scale of interventions, but also from the ability to found local belongings and identities, residues of community relations and / or types of solidarity, fragments of identification with the places, environments, cultures, i.e., all the resources through which one can undertake experiences of innovation and experimentation in a public-private intervention.
Although not yet clear, and completely understood, however, are signs of major structural and social changes that announce a new reinterpretation of the famous card restoration, restarting from that of Venice. There was destruction and deformation - it's true - but also an incessant rebirth of ancient territorial identity which allowed tenacious continuity in time and space.
But what makes the desire to compete differently with the complex field of restoration even more relevant and stimulating, is the presence of supply and demand of public spaces and residential areas.
The offer of historic cities in particular, is still overwhelmingly tied, in qualitative expressions of their old nuclei. Historical towns, in fact, that continue to offer their space sages, their architecture, and their beauty as a sort of real laboratories of culture. Theirs is a generous offer, but at the same time disarmed, because it is exposed to the quantitative threats of our society (tourism, mass emigration, etc. ..). If it is true that today there is greater attention to "reuse", to the "protection and integrity of the Values”, and to sustainability, it is still true that they hide behind these concepts conceptual misunderstandings and real dangers, such as the commoditized use of "art cities”, empty of inhabitants and increasingly beleaguered and filled with incompatible destinations.
At the same time, the recent interventions of requalification of architectural heritage, employing sustainable technologies, appear to be economically more costly, because it is always, and necessarily, pilot projects - and therefore experimental - where we need to invest more resources than conventional interventions.
However, there are - perhaps from some time ago, perhaps for millennia – the easiest ways to face the problem that are only a re-evaluation of the role of the form and the optimizing of the technological choices (and material ones, in particular) that the conservator is called to accomplish.
The absence of this culture has a major impact on the ability to properly manage the processes of recovery of historic buildings that so many rules and norms of behavior could teach us.
It is necessary, finally, to recognize in the cultural and natural heritage, the different forms of regionalism, which must be mutually integrated. They are:
- A specific regionalism, referring to environmental characteristics, which defines the interactions with the properties of the building site, adapting housing to light, climate and local air (kind of sky, latitude and solar geometry, meteorology, etc);
- A specific regionalism, referring to the distribution features of buildings, marked by the relationships established with the urban spaces of cities;
- A specific regionalism, referring to the characters and building technology of the materials and local abilities to build and produce finishes that are found locally;
- A regionalism specifically referring to the historic, stylistic and architectural characters - all derived from the reading of symbolic systems present in the monumental buildings.
If great attention has been given in the last two decades to integrated and interdisciplinary projects, it is also true that this still remains at the level of experiment or academic dissertation. It seems, therefore, time to draw attention mainly to two facts:
- that the redesign of the existing should pass through the reinterpretation of the consolidated results obtained and verified on a large regional scale, which always express real levels of feasibility;
- that the re-design of architectural contexts and sites that testify lifestyles relevant to our cultural identity and our sense of belonging, which are financially supported at an international level, must involve not only local experts , but also experts from several other countries. It’s only by a direct comparison of experiences and results that come from more countries that we can hope to follow the correct path of innovation of the culture of the restoration.
With this spirit, the associated centers of CICOP.Net Confederation, are proposing to undertake, in the near future, all possible efforts for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, armed with the experience gained over twenty years of activities within the CICOP association.
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