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Highlights from the manual of wise management, preservation, reuse and economic valorisation of architecture of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century

Matevz Juvančič

With the Manual of Wise Management, Preservation, Reuse and Economic Valorisation of Architecture of the Totalitarian Regimes of the 20th Century (short name: Manual) being in its final phase, let me highlight some of its significant contributions, especially its Chapter 3: Guidelines.

We have already reported that The Manual is one of the key results and outputs of the ATRIUM project. It opens the discussion about what to do with presented and other potential cases, showcase positive practices, set guidelines how to deal with them, how to develop visions, concepts and systems for their management options.

The first part of the Guidelines deals with the heritage identification and interpretation, specifically: Heritage Identification System and Interpretation Principles. It revolves around the three-phase evaluation process: (1) Heritage identification; (2) Heritage evaluation/determination of cultural significance; and (3) Preparation of preservation measures and guidelines for renovation and reuse. The comprehensive template from NIICH survey has been modified resulting in a system and a template that are as balanced as possible, incorporating also the second and the third step of the above mentioned preservation process activities, where the evaluation and the project's development possibilities are researched in greater detail. The template is to be used for identification of new potential sites and buildings. Next part discusses preservation, renovation and reuse addressing the specifics of the architecture of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. It delves into the sensitive issues of its values and approaches to its evaluation and analyses two (non-opposing) options: UNESCO and DOCOMOMO heritage evaluation system, suggesting the DOCOMOMO evaluation system as best suited to ATRIUM heritage specifics although, it is impossible to avoid imposing evaluation criteria and evaluator methods that ensue from the theories, charters and documents associated with UNESCO doctrine.

Second part – Guidelines for preservation, renovation and re-use – are the next logical step. Considering the fact that the important part of the architecture of European totalitarian regimes wasn't based on modernistic principles but on traditional historicist aesthetic, an evaluation system needed to be found that would provide more objective and appropriate criteria system for both concepts of architectural productions. The DOCOMOMO system is thus joined by the Burra Charter1 evaluation system based on the concept of cultural significance that could refer to both categories of totalitarian architecture and at the same time test the level of innovation.

Cultural significance is a concept which helps estimate the value of places. The places that are likely to be of significance are those which help to understand the past or enrich the present, and which will be of value to future generations. With regard to the characteristics presented, the evaluation system of the preservation processes that is part of the management activities for the buildings or sites under the ATRIUM project consists of the cultural significance criteria system addressing aesthetic, historic, scientific and social values.

Renovation and re-use depend not only on the heritage value but also on several other factors (i.e. legislation framework, etc.). Among specific site-related conditions, every renovation or re-use project depends on the physical state of the building structures and on stakeholder's interests, economic conditions, local political interests and spatial development plans, to mention the most important ones. For the third step of preservation process - preparation of preservation measures and guidelines - the Manual proposes methodology of the feasibility study2 because its seven steps are brief, clear, general, adaptable and heritage revitalization oriented.

Third part of the Manual – Management guidelines consists of several subchapters dealing comprehensively with particularities in the light of ATRIUM: management vision development, management of the heritage sites and buildings, participatory urban management, system of organizing sites and paths, digital support system development. They guidelines are summed up in a Concept and strategy development where there are presented as a series of steps towards the implementation in four categories: Guidelines on managing atrium vision address the general questions of ATRIUM ‘mission’ and purpose, reaffirming and solidifying the partnership; Route concept and strategy development guidelines tackle issues of general management plan, incorporation of new sites and buildings, quality reassurance and address the steps needed for the development of the cultural route project; Management guidelines of individual sites and buildings deal with management plan of the individual site or building, necessary steps to achieve that and activities connected to the sites; Digital support system development guidelines address the specifics of tools that could and should support the organization management, tourist/visitors and quality management. The third part concludes with the monitoring and evaluation development guidelines, which serve to set and ensure the quality sta ndards during the development phase and later, when the route will be implemented. In this manner, the guidelines are divided into two categories, one looking and suggesting points for the ATRIUM cultural route project management plan, the other for the handbook for the ATRIUM route quality insurance and control.

The final part of the Guidelines chapter assesses economic potentials of the architecture characterising the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century both from the supply (cultural tourism) and demand (identify and profile segments of tourists interested in architecture characterising the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century) points of view, with the goal of providing relevant inputs for a dossier on cultural route creation and management.

1 The Burra Charter, The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance 1999 with associated Guidelines and Code on the Ethics of Co-existence, Australia ICOMOS Incorporated, 2000.

2 Taggard, Fred: Regeneration through heritage: combining commercial skills and comunity interests, Industrial buildings Conservation and regeneration, Stratton, Michael (ed.), 2000, p.74-88.

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