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THE INTERNATIONAL CONSERVATION DOCTRINE / JUKKA JOKILEHTO INTERVIEWED BY RUGILĖ BALKAITĖ

Professor Jukka Jokilehto is a Special Advisor to the Director General of ICCROM, Extraordinary Professor at the University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia, and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of York, United Kingdom. His distinguished career at ICCROM, on the World Heritage Committee and the ICOMOS International Training Committee has engaged him in international missions on cultural heritage in many parts of the world.

 

Rugilė Balkaitė: This year the world is celebrating the two very important anniversaries in the World Heritage field: the 50th anniversary of the Venice Charter and the 20th anniversary of the Nara Document on Authenticity and we can somehow feel the changing of the paradigm in a sense of definitions and other aspects during this period. What are your insights about these changes?

Jukka Jokilehto: Well, I have been at ICCROM from 1971 and then from 1972 I was already organizing the training programmes. I think this 1970’s was an interesting so called paradigm because there was an increasing attention to open conservation and so they came this concept of integrated conservation with the 1975 European architectural heritage year and they raised the recognition of nature monuments and master pieces, but also the more ordinary vernacular architecture. Then in 1976 we have then this UNESCO Recommendation for Historic Areas, which I think is almost more important, in my view, because it look at historic city within its context, within its surroundings, so we already have the basis for the cultural, epic cultural landscape. It is very define in 1976. So, I think to me, that is my experience to start with in conservation. But back to the 1960’s I understand, oh, it is not mine, it is just my understanding, but I know that the major problem in the 1950’s and 1960’s was reconstruction after the Second Wold War. There were two meetings: one was in 1957 in Paris organized with UNESCO and the French government and then in 1964 in Venice organized with UNESCO and the Italian government.

In the second meeting ICCROM was already available because ICCROM was established in 1956, actually before the 1957 meeting, but actually they started working 1959, so in 1964 ICCROM was  present, ICOMOS was pronounced in the 1964 but actually it was already prefunded in the 1965, so ICCROM was very much involved in the writing the Venice Charter, we had our Deputy director Paul Philippot, who wrote actually, part of the chapter, he wrote the preface and the preface to me is the most important part of this charter. Then we had Raymond Lemaire, who was the Belgian, there were two Belgians and they both wrote in French and the R. Lemaire as a reporter and the secretary of the working group he wrote the paragraphs, which we discussed and I was told by P. Philippot that they took almost the whole night to write it. Now, if you read this French text and you compare it with the English translation you will notice that there are differences and the problem is that many of the translations probably have been taken from the English translations, which is not possessory. It was not a legal document and there is no one to take authority, but it was a translation and now there are some simplifications of expressions and they have used some expressions, which we already currently used in English. But we still have the necessarily corresponding exactly to what was intently be in the Venice Charter in the French version, so one of the questions is to check if you could, if your Venice Charter has been translated from the English, you retranslate it, professionally, from the French. Also look at the Russian version too.

Well, Lithuanian version of the Venice Charter is translated half from English and half from Polish, because Poland was a window to the international field for Lithuania during the Soviet time. What are the differences of the translations that you have mentioned?

The French text is the original, but, of course, I understand that at that time historical areas were not very much discussed, but in Venice they did, they told that there was not enough time to start drafting some requirements, something, so they limited their attention to monuments and sites. They were sending their attention maybe at one paragraph of historical urban areas, but then they say it was not enough, so they just said that we have to take care of the context. So I think that the Venice Charter already has an embryonic form of the many issues that then flourished, particularly in 1970’s. So when you would say that 1960’s was the moment when some of the concerns that emerged after the Second World War, especially when many buildings and sites have been destroyed, then these concerns were expressed in the Venice Charter. Especially the paragraphs are very much reflecting the concerns of that time and the preface is more general, I would say, that as I was mentioning about this distinction between theory and principals, so I would say that the Venice Charter preface represents the theoretical reflection and the paragraphs represent principals, which are applicable in a particular historical context. So we should look at the paragraphs at the Venice Charter also historically and not just universally, but more specifically. So there was an increasing attention to the context in the 1970’s.

What was the progress in the paradigm at that time?

I have been inheritance of the Venice Charter because for P. Philippot was the Director of ICCROM, he was a pointed director of ICCROM in 1971, when I was attending the course, then he invited me to become the assistant of the Architecture conservation course, so then I organized things in reflection of these current trends where ICRROM was already running in that direction, I mean we had already organized course field work, even in 1971, even earlier; considering historical urban areas we made analysis of these things..So I just wanted to say, that if I look at it from my personal point, so it was my foundations and then in the 1980s... there was an increasing, there was problem, also economic problems and petrol chemical issues but there was an increasing attention to technology and science in the 1980s. So in many countries and particularly in Denmark, when they were teaching conservation, they thought that maybe the theory of conservation was not so any more important, because everybody knew it already. So we should focus our hands on the scientific and technological issues… I think that then, in fact I was invited to the Danish Royal Academy at some point in the 1980s and so I gave one day seminar on conservation theory, then they decided to reintroduce it into the programmes.

There was an Advisory committee meeting with UNESCO in 1976 somewhere in France and at that time ICOMOS, IUCN and ICCROM each of them proposed some texts. ICCROM made a reflection with the written part of the Venice Charter from P. Philippot and he referred, he was thinking about what is outstanding universal value that was his basic reflection. ICOMOS was reflecting, what should be the criteria for inscribing something on the list and IUCN was looking at the natural heritage aspects. P. Philippot was an art historian and I think he was very good, very qualified at history, and he was the person, who actually invited me and why I am still here. Anyway, he was not very convinced about the World Heritage Convention, because if we are now at this convention, it means that we will only look at the important monuments and we will forget about the context and then it will stop these things. And indeed, in the early nominations we only have the important monuments, especially in 1980’s. Only in the 1990s that there is coactive incoming or consciousness about the broader context and so therefore, for example in 1987 we have already in Brazil there is ICOMOS. ICOMOS actually had several regional conferences, which had some in Germany, in Brazil and so on, Mexico, where were discussing historical urban areas and what to do. In 1990 there is an increasing awareness of the vernacular heritage and UNESCO comes out with some recommendations also in this regard also ICOMOS. Actually, I can say that in 1980, late 1980s the Lake district in United Kingdom was proposed to the World Heritage List and ICOMOS considered that this interesting, because you have lots of interesting features, but none of these features were strong enough to justified the inscription and such a nice landscape, there was some Roman remains, there was some medieval remains, there was some natural features..

So, that was the starting point for the reflection of what is cultural landscape. Then, finally in 1992 this contriver culture landscape was defined and there was reflection of what type of cultural landscape should been thought about, one was sort of like a design landscape like garden, landscape garden something like that; another one is this sort of organically raw, like agricultural raw or something like landscape and… one was sort of a social landscape like secret mountain or battle field or something like that. Well, at the same time also the Council of Europe started thinking something about cultural landscapes and I was representing ICCROM and I was both in the World Heritage Committee discussing cultural landscape, but also in the Council of Europe discussing the cultural landscape.

UNESCO and the Council of Europe had no official contact, so these were like parallel developments, which came to similar results. So, in the 1960s the main interest was still monuments and especially the monuments that have been destroyed and so the advice was, how to correct these or rebuilt them without destroying significance of those places. But they were also understood with innocent context and then in the 1970s we are expending these into historian urban area within its surroundings. In 1976 UNESCO Recommendations talks about functions and people, and human activities, and so on, so it is not just buildings, but at the same time the World Heritage Convention of 1972 mentions that cultural heritage can be monuments groups of buildings and sites. This definition goes back to the 1954 Hague Convention, which was more focused on war damages and the group of buildings, because they were interested in to protecting these buildings in the case of the army conflict. So the World Heritage Convention took or UNESCO took those definitions practicality modifying, but basically this proper from 1954, so I think UNESCO was a bit retarded in its definition, and the ICOMOS was started working on this issue, they could have looked at historic towns as a site, but for some reason they didn’t. So, historical urban areas were considered as groups of buildings, but, of course, if we think what is the monument, what is the group of building, it means that we have a monument, which is more like a symbol issue, somehow like a monastery, cathedral, church or something, something, which can be universal... and group of buildings is like several churches or several monasteries or something, so it could have been that way and the site could have been for to the historical urban areas, but that was the argument at that point and site was considered like an archaeological site, but then in the 1970-1992, when they found out this cultural landscape that was taken as a site and it was actually refer to the World Heritage Convection, which says that a site is the result of interaction of with the human beings and nature, so therefore it was exactly for this cultural landscape, so the science corresponded it. It could have corresponded from the beginning for some reason, but it came twenty years later. But that was the twenty’s anniversaries in the 1992.

The authenticity is an important part in terms of the World Heritage. How did the definition improve the Convention and its implementation?

There was a little booklet where Japanese people were criticised for reconstruction without taking it into account at a real authenticity, because at that time authenticity was mainly refer to material, so then there was a reflection about this authenticity, in fact… I am sorry if I am making it look like an autobiography, but I was again involved in this concept of authenticity and we had a meeting in Norway in Bergen with some people. There were also Herb Stovel, Raymond Lemaire and David Lowenthal, I think. So, we have already defined what the authenticity is, what are the sources of the information we should think about, which was actually taken into the NARA Document of Authenticity, so this part was already elaborated in Bergen at the beginning of 1994. Then in NARA the sort of developed the general statement integrating that with elaboration criteria that I already mentioned, so that in 1994 in some way became like this cultural landscape and the NARA document and all these sort of like expansion towards… how should I say…a monopolistic approach to what is not so much yet heritage, but what is the reality of this, of the territory built and natural territory… and I think, that it is from this time on, that we are slowly changing our attitudes. From the 1992 and we are talking about cultural landscape and we come to 2011, when UNESCO has the Recommendations for Historical Urban Landscape, which is a cultural landscape, in fact, in reality… but the emphasis is on the understanding, and the management or control. Planning control and management cannot be limited only to what is protected, but also to what is not protected. Joseph King was saying in his talk that this historical urban landscape actual is not supposed to be another heritage category as they accept for World Heritage proposes, but, of course, he does not mean that we cannot define historical urban landscape, we must define, we must define what is historical urban landscape, wherever or not we will then put it a search to the World Heritage. If we put the historical urban landscape to the World Heritage List of nomination, then we have to define it as cultural landscape, but… but we have to define it for the purpose of management, because we have to know, what we are managing, so therefore we have to be able to describe.

How can we reflect on historic urban landscape and in our case on Vilnius Historic Centre?

In many cases of the National legislation the State or some authority will define, what is protected as a national monument or historic area, or something like that, so that becomes like the legally protected heritage and sometimes heritage is limited to what is legally rectified, but then reality is not true. But what is legally defined today, maybe all their power wanted this tomorrow, because tomorrow maybe they will define more and, in fact, if we look at this evolution of the concept of what is heritage, we can say it from the 1960s to 2014 in these past 50 years there was quite a lot of changes, so what was protected in the 1960s, was more individual buildings or small groups or historic centres, but now we are talking about cultural landscapes. I think that this notion of paradigm become very fashionable, but forgets about paradigm. I just want to think that there is a certain evolution in our conception and, of course, everything depends on our perception, on our recognition at something as heritage. If we, for example, I was mentioning this example of any built territory, we can look at it as a landscape or cultural landscape, or historical urban landscape and we are then looking at the different aspects, if we are looking at something… if we look at Vilnius as a landscape, we can say that there is historical features, there are some monument development and there is some forest, nature and so on, that is the landscape. And, of course, we can say OK, we could improve this landscape, we can make some design, let’s make a nice group of, for Vilnius here or… and maybe not do it here, just to balance it, that is like a designing, because landscape in perception of mind, it does not say this is good or bad, but if we start improving, than we are not looking at the qualities, so we are looking at what is the perception of the qualities, that provide landscape. But if we are as looking at it as a historical landscape, as a cultural landscape, then we have to look at the historical evolution of the time and so we are also looking at things which are not necessary visible and then we have to see, that these issues which are not immediately visible are not lost or destroyed, or under mind due to the development.

So therefore, the development suddenly becomes something to verification to what has been done so far, so we have to recognise the historicity of this open fabric or these functions, and then the development should be in relation to that. Now, if we look at the urban planning issues, I remember, when I first time came here in 1995, we were looking at this question of the strategy planning process, which was an idea, which came from Canada, I think, because you had this Canadian link at that time, if you remember or even if you don’t remember, because in the 1960s, because I was an urban planner in Finland in the 60s, I’m sorry, I’m too old. But anyway, in the 1960s we were doing basically lands use planning. So we would say, what is the reasonable volume and what are the features do we have to take to make nice lands, nice urban landscape… and, of course, we did not necessarily think so much about existing urban fabric, this could be said ok, if it is old enough and we can demolish it and then re-do it, that was the idea. So, in the 1960’s urban conservation did not exist at least in Finland, but, in fact, there was already a protest movement a little bit in Finland, especially in Helsinki… and there was a group of young people and Ville Helander who was a professor at the University of Polytechnic (history of architecture) started discussing this question of renovation.

During the Soviet times they used this concept also in here.

In this view, they believed that it is better to demolish one structure and then re-do. They were thinking about the improvement of the conditions of the historic features, historic buildings rather than demolishing and replacing. So that sort of attention was given and then in the 1970s it’s developed, but I think also in some other countries the same phenomena started. In Italy we already have from the 1950s this concept of centro storico, historic centre and in here you have a group of building, not the group value, which is invented. Well, if it’s an integral part of a historic urban area, it should be protected, but for its group value even if architecturally it is not important. And, of course, then we have then in France these safeguard sectors, but the sectors was very monumental in its approach and… of course it is still is. Anyway, the French system is a little bit different, but, of course, they have evolved and it is also taking note, and I am not sure if there are so much difference now between the different country, so there have been the different origins for this, they have more international cooperation and been more linked together and, of course, the legislation make these differences, but I think the intentions are taking in very similar in different countries. So, and then in 2000 the management has become increasingly important, because the modern movement in urban planning was aiming at coherent townscapes and trying to control things and that was positive in a way, that when you are building a new area, you so much try to define that criteria, that the volume should be so decent in so many floors and not taller than.

From the 1930s already there was this idea that we should respect the historicity of material and forms and not make the falsification by introducing something which is repeating the style, because we were against the stylistic restoration as the 19th century. So we could say that the modern intervention should always be in spirit and modern. If you look at these ideas introducing into urban historic centre, it means that in 1970s especially, all the new buildings had to be brand new and modern and even if we have this Baroque building next door you have a 1970s concrete building. This represents the attitude and the philosophy of the 1970s. Each is then interesting enough: what has happened in some way is that this diversity becomes a value in itself and already the NARA Document of the Authenticity talks about the fact that we have to recognise the value; the diversity of cultural heritage in the urban areas and in the 2001 UNESCO has this declaration of the Cultural Diversity.

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