Heritology and Contemporary Architectural Theory. Universalism of Principles or Heterogeneity and Dispersion?

Keywords: heritage, adaptive reuse, sustainable development, architectural theory, heritage preservation, global cities, new heritage paradigm, city identity


Contemporary architectural theory and discussions on architectural heritage protection more and more often emphasise diversity, variability and interactivity as well as a shift away from the universalism of values and assessments.

Establishing the theory of architecture as well as protection of architectural heritage on heterogeneous assumptions, which take into account a diversity of phenomena and (tangible and intangible) values, brings new aspects to the discussion, making it definitely more complex and complicated. Since it is always necessary to consider not only the historical, but also social and cultural context, creating a common universal principle and mode of action is difficult, if not impossible. At the same time, shifting away from ready-made solutions proposed by a narrow circle of specialists and replacing a doctrinal approach with experimental thinking, in which recommendations are formulated and questions are posed in a dialectical and open manner, allows for more comprehensive understanding of the complexity of processes and interactions. It also plays an extremely important social role, since embracing the idea of the diversity of human activities and values associated with them paradoxically fosters the recovery of a sense of belonging and unity in modern communities.

The article analyses changes taking place in contemporary architectural theory and protection of architectural heritage, as well as their cultural and social context. It outlines the main challenges and fields of conflict, but also benefits of shifting from a belief in the universality of principles and existing rules to a multi-level and participatory transdisciplinary approach.


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