Nieuw Erfgoed Erkend, reflecties
In October 2007 Minister of Culture Plasterk presented a list of 100 'top listed buildings' from the period 1940-58 as a prelude to a selective protection of Dutch heritage of the Reconstruction that took place after the Second World War. A great deal of media attention was generated for this ‘New Heritage’.
The underlying concept sounds very attractive, but entails various ambiguities. From the point of view of policy, i.e. from the point of view of the preservation of monuments and historic buildings, heritage dating from the middle of the twentieth century is indeed new, but from a technical and economic point of view and considering the transient ideas about taste, this is outdated by now.
This causes friction with the legally required minimum age of fifty years in order to have cultural-historical and architectonically valuable buildings qualify for protection. In addition, changes and modernizations in the building industry are going much more rapidly now than was the case when the Monuments and Historic Buildings Act 1961 was introduced.
The idea of a qualitative 'Top 100' list defined by knowledge and judgement appears to fit in with a long tradition. However, this is the first time that a clear definition has been given of the concept of ‘top listed building’, and even more important, also explicitly part of the selection policy first to protect a 'top' and only later, sparsely, a wider group of listed buildings.
The concepts formulated for this purpose, 'evident milestones' and 'essential models' are related to earlier selection and protection activities, as well as to the criteria from the ‘Delia Plan Culture Conservation’. The application is illustrated by a few examples from the Top 100 list. This shows that the Reconstruction produced a much greater architectonic diversity than is usually apparent from historiography and moreover a great wealth of applied art.
The selection was carried out by means of a critical mutual comparison of architects' oeuvres, cultural-historical research results and random checks of local monuments and historic buildings inventories on the basis of the criteria referred to and notions such as excellent design quality and cultural urgency. All this within a thematically ordered framework, in which ten characteristic themes have been distinguished: accommodation, welfare state, economy, production, technique, traffic, pillarization. education, leisure time and commemoration.
Various top listed buildings may be classified under more than one of these themes, in which culture is also interwoven. This is proof of the wide range of their importance and significance. The selection carried out is to be considered a first test of evaluation. One of the many new tasks presented by the 'new heritage' is a follow-up survey for the selection of the top listed buildings from the later phase of the Reconstruction (1959-65) and a critical consideration of the architectural and building history of the twentieth century and the connected valorization as the basis of later architectonic interventions.