from Tony Coote, HHT’s representative on Hunters Hill Council’s Conservation Advisory Panel (CAP)
One thing I’ve noticed over the years in relation to alterations and additions to heritage items and proposed works in conservation areas is that the proponents of such works (architects, usually) use the Burra Charter Article 22 New work (22.2) “New work should be readily identifiable as such” to justify completely unsympathetic work that pays no respect to the item or its surrounds.
In making this spurious case they completely ignore the second part of item 22.2 : “but must respect and have minimal impact on the cultural significance of the place” (ie the building and its surrounds). They also generally ignore item 22.1 “New work such as additions or other changes to the place may be acceptable where it respects and does not distort or obscure the cultural significance of the place, or detract from its interpretation and appreciation.”
Tom Wolfe in From Bauhaus to Our House is scathing of Louis Kahn’s addition to the Yale University Art Gallery, which, I think, epitomises the misrepresentation of the Burra Charter I’m talking about. Kahn’s work is on the left. The existing building was built 25 years before in 1928. When questioned by the Yale administrators about his design, Kahn is quoted by Wolfe:
“What do you mean, “It has nothing to do with the existing building”? You don’t understand? You don’t see it? You don’t see the string courses? They express the floor lines of the existing building. They reveal the structure. For a quarter of a century, those floors have been hidden behind masonry, completely concealed. Now they will be unconcealed. Honest form – beauty, as you choose to call it – can only result from unconcealed structure! Unconcealed structure? Did he say unconcealed structure?
Baffled but somehow intimidated, as if by Cagliostro* or a Jacmel hoongan*, the Yale administration yielded to the destiny of architecture and took it like a man. Administrators, directors, boards of trustees, municipal committees, and executive officers have been taking it like men ever since.”