Re: Re: Reconstructing Lost Buildings

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Quebec looks like an interesting case exene1, have you insight to share on the matter?

Just judging the bits and pieces that turn up on the inter-web, the restoration of several of the Place Royale buildings looks reasonably credible to me, if perhaps a tad hokey at street level and a tad pristine at roof level.

The Barbel House on the east side of Place Royal in 1970 above, and today, below.

The north side of Place Royal in about 1900 above, and today, below.

The Canadian Encyclopedia is a bit sniffy about the whole thing;

‘Several buildings were renovated between 1970 and 1979. The result has a certain pedagogical value for illustration purposes, but very little historical value [according to the definition of this term by Alois Riegl, which is ”the value of an object which can be studied scientifically as an artefact of an era”] at least when it comes to the 18th century. Today’s historians consider this work as a product of Quebec’s cultural policy in the 1960s and 1970s, in terms of historical value, as a reminder of this period.’

There is little doubt that the Quebec authorities in the 1970s had at least one eye on the tourist potential that a Williamsburg-style colonial quarter might generate [Colonial Williamsburg apparently draws 4 milliam visitors a year] so we don’t know what weight was given to the intrinsic heritage value of the individual buildings in considering their restoration to an earlier state. Un-doing later additions, where these were inoffensive, was probably a bad call, but as with the Berlin Palace, we can’t know how deeply the local community may have wanted to reclaim a built heritage that had a particular significance for them and architects are not sole custodians of the built environment, despite what they might think.

I thing the issues raised by the Quebec experience would be well worth exploring further, especially if they are now dismissed as a product of the 1970s!

Clearly, what is a careful attempt at urban restoration to one man, is a ghastly heritage-theme-park to another.

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