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Assessing and valorizing the values of Belgian reconstruction cityscapes today : revisiting Labo SU+2019s engagement with Ypres and Heuvelland

Book Contribution - Book Abstract Conference Contribution

Readily dismissed as inauthentic vieux-neuf, the centrally orchestrated architectural production during the Belgian reconstruction campaigns after the Great War faced a rather cold architecture historical reception in Belgium. The reconstruction of individual monuments and entire towns, villages and landscapes was often only discussed in historical overviews as what came in lieu of a modernist alternative that had missed its appointment with history. This negative appraisal in architectural histories was however but one of the factors that complicated the possible recognition of this varied yet unified architectural and urban production as valuable heritage. Mid 1980s, the Resurgam research, exhibition and publication project directed by Marcel Smets meant however a first turning point. Twenty years later, also local planners and cultural policy makers from the former war front area in West Flanders initiated a second phase of engagement with the reconstruction heritage, now from a more contemporary perspective.In this context, the Labo S research group within the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at Ghent University was asked to advise local authorities on how to assess and valorize the various aspects of reconstruction heritage in Ypres and Heuvelland, but also to suggest possible approaches to give contemporary developments a place in the still largely extant reconstruction landscape. This paper presents the conceptual approach Labo S took, combining a value analytical approach with morphological close readings. It also makes an evaluation of how this impulse and initiatives by other actors subsequently played out on the ground, in recent planning and preservation management, and in architectural projects.
Book: Revival after the Great War : Repair, Rebuild, Remember
Pages: 25 - 26
Publication year:2018