Ideology of urban conservation
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Although urban heritage has been a research field in the focus of scholars’ attention since the concepts of restoration and rehabilitation of monuments had been extended to entire areas such as historical city centres, before the mid‐twentieth century, architectural studies approached towns only through individual historical monuments, and historical studies only through juridical, political, and religious institutions or economic and social structures. In consequence, urban space as the manifestation of the urban phenomenon in its complexity has been largely ignored by the practice of urban conservation. This thesis aims to be a theoretical approach to the field of urban conservation, revealing its place at the crossing of history, architecture, urbanism, geography, philosophy, and anthropology. The creation of place, its understanding, the meaning that places hold for human identity and the way they shape us in return. The basis of such an enquiry is set by looking at attitudes towards the historic fabric over time and the origins of the notion of ‘urban conservation’ in its European context. The concentration of economic, social and cultural exchanges over long periods of time, which characterises traditional urban cultures, gives the value of historical areas in towns. Therefore, the history of urban development provides a substantial contribution towards the protection, conservation, and restoration policy of historic towns and urban areas as well as towards their development and adaptation to contemporary life. The term ‘integrated conservation’ emerged as a response to these changes in conservation’s relationship to heritage and its context. This broadened image of heritage enables a better understanding of how human activity has shaped the urban fabric and of how conservation can be perceived today as a component of management of urban change. This raises a number of theoretical and methodological issues, which are discussed in detail in this thesis: how do we understand the historic urban areas and how do we elicit their cultural values in order to protect and use these values. This research is therefore concerned with the origin and nature of ideas relevant to urban conservation, rather than with what is commonly regarded as being a prescriptive doctrine in heritage conservation generally, and indeed urban conservation. In reality, this latter view of the theoretical and philosophical body of research in conservation is hindering its theoretical development as a discipline and has an undesired, stalling effect on practice development. This is why this research aims to provide tools for thinking about specific conservation issues, not self‐sufficient theories. The references span a very wide timescale because of the inherent preoccupation of humans with their own inhabiting of the world, which is ultimately the frame in which urban settlements are inscribed.