The Building Conservation Directory 2021

12 T H E B U I L D I N G C O N S E R VAT I O N D I R E C T O R Y 2 0 2 1 C AT H E D R A L C O MM U N I C AT I O N S HERITAGE PRESERVATION PATRICK DUERDEN I must not leave the truth unstated, that it is again no question of expediency or feeling whether we shall preserve the buildings of past times or not. We have no right whatever to touch them. They are not ours. They belong partly to those who built them, and partly to all the generations of mankind who are to follow us. John Ruskin, The Lamp of Memory, 1849 Colonia Marina XXVIII Ottobre, Cattolica (Rimini) (1932) designed by the futurist Clemente Busiri-Vici (1887–1965), combines forms of streamlined trains and ships as an expression of fascist modernity. (Photo: Dan Dubowiz) D AVID OLUSOGA’S BBC2 exploration of the history of 10 Guinea Street, Bristol A House through Time provides a window on the history of successive families of Bristol merchants involved in the ‘Guinea Trade’ in human lives trafficked to the Caribbean. In the United Kingdom the legacy of inequality and injustice, and shamefully the reality of it too, are still with us. It has been reported that up to a third of National Trust properties have direct links to slavery or colonialism. While the trust has made important steps to address this legacy, the statutory list description of 10 Guinea Street makes no direct reference to it. Heritage has a central role to play in the discovery and exposure of the wrongdoing of the past, and as an asset in the process of addressing the need for change in our society. In response to this, in 2018 Historic England’s Statement on Contested Heritage advocated thoughtful, long-lasting and powerful reinterpretation of contested heritage. The question is, are the tools we have as heritage professionals up to the job? In 2005, I spent some months in Italy with cultural master planner Dan Dubowitz, exploring buildings of the fascist youth organisations, the Gioventù Italiana del Littorio and the Opera Nazionale Balilla, in Tuscany, Liguria and Emilia-Romagna. In the days before cars came with GPS as standard, a map hand drawn on scrap paper by my friend, architect and teacher Tom Muirhead, was our only guide. Our exploration culminated in the exhibition and book Fascismo Abbandonato . The fascist regime (1922–1943) pursued an architectural policy in its state building programmes without advocating any consistent style or approach. Consequently, Italy was a melting pot of architectural theories and ideas, with budgets available to realise the most ambitious of state building programmes. The legacy of this is of outstanding architectural significance, but being part of a nationalist project, it fits awkwardly within the international orthodoxy of architectural modernism. Our exploration included a large number of Colonie di Infanzia, hostels generally in remote and scenic locations used for annual camps and training exercises. The buildings were extraordinary, not only because they draw on every contemporary school of architectural design, but also because they were intended for cinematic spectacle. Fascism was deeply concerned with image. Its buildings were designed around dramatic vistas, with features foreshortened to heighten the impression of scale. Ramps, towers and balconies were provided for staged activities, fascist symbols were turned into architectural features and slogans were painted in giant sized script on walls and towers. At Tirrenia on the Tuscan west coast, a vast stretch of shoreline was developed on an urban scale, sufficiently influential to appear in imitation as the better-known Colossus of Prora built on the Baltic island of Rügen by the National Socialists of the Third Reich. As with the Nazi programme of Kraft durch Freude, Strength through Joy, these facilities, ostensibly part of a social programme for young people, were part of a national project to condition a generation of youth to militarism. After the collapse of the regime, buildings survived because nobody really knew what to do about them. Often remotely located, they had no purpose in the new Republic of Italy. Adaptation to alternative uses was often both impractical