Values Of Urban Historical Heritage Cultural Studies Essay

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Many expert predict that city will hold most of the world population, and by 2025 the population living in city will be double that of today's 2.5 billion figures (Al Dizon, 1997). If this prediction comes true, then we need to plan our city ahead carefully to achieve good quality of life in it. Yet , most cities in Asia are growing in an unprecedented rate. Such fast growing will inevitably need fast development. Consequently , many cities grow not only outward, but also inward. This means the old parts of the city are target for redevelopment. Thus, inner city will have to give up some of its oldest building for reconstruction.

City is one of the biggest works of human efforts. It rises and falls through the ages as compare to its fellows for many reasons (Marc Faber, 1997). History of a city reveals the history of its citizens. Many great cities have their own glorious era to be proud of, but some cities had never had a glorious past and the urban life remain as routine as if no dramatic events had ever occurred. Many of us live in a city whose age is older than that of ours. We inherit the given city shape and urban space from our former generations. We learn about our city's history from recorded facts and legends. It is this desire to attach to and to become part of the past that many of us had attempted to identify ourselves. There is a moral obligation to some of us to protect valuable objects we have inherited. This study is explorative, it does not attempt to offer answer to the question it raised, but leave them to the reader to decide. I start with growth as inherence nature of city. It follows with the discussions on values as suggested by the title of this paper. Next it connects the issues with tourism as the rising industry that challenges cultural values. And it rounds up with change as the most challenging value that we need to consider carefully.

1.1. Cities As Inherited

We have sometimes forgotten that what we have inherited from the city we are living in is a result of frequent changes. Some result is beneficial to our urban life for its aesthetic and amenity quality, but some can be harmful in term of public interest such as health, crime, and decay. For example, Haussman destroyed many parts of Paris by aesthetic and organization measures. He had achieved that goal to yield magnificent vista for Paris. The result has become valuable heritage that the Parisians are proud of until today. This is in contrary to the claims of many historians on the negative aspects of his action to inhabitants of that era (see Franćoise Choay, 1969, for a detail on Haussman decision, also Spiro Kostof, 1992). In this regards, destruction by sensitive measures and clear goals can bring a new and better life for the future generation to inherit.

The shape of a city changes as it grows. Cities in the developing world grow rapidly as if they will expand endlessly and renew instantly. Some cities in the advanced world have reached their peak, but others continue to expand. Yet, even in a zero growing condition many cities have renewed themselves. There are always new buildings replacing the old.

Under the label of renewal, some of city's oldest districts were, or are inevitably given way to development for destruction and reconstruction. The value judgment for destruction is often of economic, and most precisely, of cost and benefit rather than of other measures.

1.2. Value Of Urban Historical Heritage

Shape change in the inner city by intensive redevelopment can be enormous. Such condition would invite various reactions from the citizen who care about it. The new environment may differ totally from the one it replaces including the inhabitant, and a new cultural pattern would have emerged.

This instance induces certain controversy as to whose values the change is more acceptable or rejected. To those who value history, as the main concern would reject such transformation, they prefer a gradual incremental change rather than a sudden shift. To those who value the present most will consider such a change a necessary, they even encourage more replacement in the inner city for they only look at what can be enjoyed in the present. But to those who value future life as the most important achievement would have a critical view toward constancy and change.

Heritage is something that ones left for his/her heir to keep, maintain, and protect as long as possible (sustained for several generations). It can be an object, a musical score, or a rule of conduct, which is respectively, physically, written or orally inherited. Regarding the latter, tradition is a kind of heritage. An object has physical configuration, which is definable and maintained as it is. Heritable things are of valuable according to the heirs, and are thus culturally and temporary defined.

The way heritage is treated differs from one culture to another. Preserving heritage is one of the treatments that many have preferred. The way of preserving is also varied from place or culture to the other. Westerner would have insisted that style is inseparable from the object's physical shape and so the preservation of the objects as it appears was or is, is foremost. But the Japanese would have preferred to preserve not the style, but something else such as intangible essence (Edward Ford, 1997). To them an object can be copied exactly from its original type endlessly at one place such as the case of Ise Shrine.

If the heritage is the concern of a family or a person, then the public has no right to intervene its fate. But when an object, a tradition, rules of conduct, or hymns belongs to or being defined as a national or local heritage, then the public would feel to have obligation to determine its fate. The problem arises as who has the authority to decide the value for heritage?

Value is the worth of something. Barton Perry in 1926 through his General Theory of Value stated that value could be any object of any interest.

The realm of value includes morality, religion, art, science, economics, politics, law, and custom. John Dewey in his Human Nature and Conduct (1992), and Theory of valuation (1939) distinguished two types of values, instrumental and intrinsic. Instrumental value concerns on good as a means, and intrinsic value concerns on good as an end. Based on Dewey's category, the Japanese seems to prefer intrinsic value rather than instrumental value, while Westener prefers otherwise.

Big cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Malaka, Manila, and others in Southeast Asia had experienced various layers of change along their urban history. Their present forms, street patterns, and public domains are mostly inherited from the colonial governments. Singapore, for example, even though it had rebuilt almost totally its inner city, the basic urban pattern remains. Many urban heritages in Jakarta are the remains of colonial imprints. Although the city municipality had attempted to preserve some of the eight enlisted historical districts that represent the native history, the efforts are far from success. Like it or not such imprints are historical facts that cannot be denied. To preserve objects that recall bitterness contains both the lesson for the present generation in not repeating the mistake of being suppressed, and in the glory of being able to overcome it.

Although the values of historical heritage are justified, we still need to answer the question as to whom these heritages are preserved and who should responsible to maintain it. Indonesia city government has limited resources should it has to restore the entire named heritages. Private owners have less interest in protecting their buildings unless they know the benefit of them. In this regard, connecting heritage conservation to tourism appears to have good opportunity of success. Yet, there are some considerations on cultural tourism.

2. Urban Conservation And Tourism

Tourism is an industry that provides tours and services to tourists. Natural scene and spectacular places are targets of tourism. Agro-tourism is another rising subject. Cultural events, performances and places are increasingly attractive to the tourists. Yet cultural productions are mostly a reflection of local life and spiritual expression. They are initially not for consumption or commercial use. A mimesis on the cultural production would have devalued its aim. Thus by including cultural heritage in the international tourism program that promotes pleasure-seeking attitude may to some extent devalue cultural heritage (Gregory Teal, 1997). The case in Havana shows that historic preservation connected to tourism has a class effect that advocates the growth of a petit bourgeoisie (Peter Marcuse, 1998). This trend is increasingly sweeping many countries today; especially those which are planning to gain foreign exchange from the industry. It confronts culturalists to look for proper solution.

Global tourism has currently accounted for 7% of total global workforce (Manuel Castells, 1998). This number is too attractive to be ignored for decision-maker in workforce. Government of Indonesia is so concern about tourism that a department is established to manage this activity. The policy encourages travel agency to promote natural and cultural potential for tourism. As a result almost every local government center built a museum and traditional houses for the consumption of tourists. Imitated models are often exaggerated from those of the originals. Such promotion increases to some extent the enthusiasm of the local peoples to produce handicrafts, dances, and more attractive ritual festivals.

The value lies in tourism program is more commercially judged rather than are historically and culturally determined. Conservation needs vitalization for the objects to survive from various threads. Revitalize a historic distric through tourism appears convincing as it ensures economic return. Although attractive, it needs a good plan to make it work, with balance between various interests without sacrificing cultural value. Cultural tourism in Nepal as observed by Reichenbach shows that overemphasizing commercial factors from one side could be also a failure. It needs commercials recognition of historic building's value by owners, users, administrators and the community to make the conservation sustainable; otherwise its sustainability is questionable (Ernst Reichenbach, 1998).

The ascending concern on conservation and of its connection to tourism, if not critically judge can add problem to itself, as it can possibly protect as many bad buildings as those of good ones (Paul Spencer Byard, 1998). We need also to remember that cultural objects are preserved because of their enduring value, but commodities are consumed because of their ephemerality (Ellen Dunham-Jones, 1997).

In urban situation, public domain equates endurance, politic, and culture, while private realm equates consumption, commerce, and necessity (Hannah Arendt, 1958). The two realm are interdependent. Thus conservation priority is better to target on the public realms. Furthermore the success of conservation movement can also easily lead to its undoing. If this is the case, it will be the end of that movement (Anne Mathews, 1999).

Thus, what is to conserve remains the primary issue. Is it the building, the place, or the spirit of the place? It is to whose values we hold that count. To urban designers Don Logan and Wayne Attoe, it is the spirit of the place. To them, seeking for the hybrid of the old and new makes more sense than mere preservation, especially of the building (Wayne Attoe and Don Logan, 1989).

2.1. Conservation

Change is an inevitable process in both natural and cultural phenomena. It cannot be stopped. We cannot protect historical parts of the city eternally from change, but we can anticipate it. In this way we leave room for change against certain standard, which in turn will be subject to change in certain time. The standard will be based on the value we hold. If the value lies in change, then we can provide the room for it (Kevin Lynch, 1981).

Conservation, if not carefully or sensitively applied, can be easily transformed into conservatism, which means keeping things as they are like the present landscape, which is a result of frequent change in its entire development (Kevin Lynch, 1972).

Conservation act should avoid overemphasize on memory although we cannot escape from it, but we can select what to remember. We are living in the present that will immediately become the past. What we have experienced now will soon lie in our memory and this instance progresses uncontrollable. We keep part of the memory, select what we deem valuable to remember and let many of them go. Memory is so ephemeral that it needs recording to instantly memorable. Yet recording can never as complete as the real experience, we can never have a complete image of our past. Recorded facts need translation and readers always reinterpreted them. It is the task of historian to bring back the past as accurately as it was.

Historical values of a thing past are to some extent depending on the crafts and vision of the historians. Art historian Abramson said: "Change demands engagement, which entails conviction; conviction allows debate, which leads to change. Memory cannot be debated, history can. Make History, not memory" (Daniel Abramson, 1999).

Conservation act as practice in Jakarta has often ignored the interest of building owners. Many owners of protected buildings attempt to renew or reconstruct their properties according to their present "need". But they cannot do so because their properties are protected. They cannot understand why they can do nothing to change their own belonging. As a result of this unclear condition, some of them preferred to let their building decay faster and collapse in order to rebuild them. These facts create unpleasant picture in the "historic area. This proves that expert's view differs from the inheritors'. Restoration decision should not come from the expert, but it should come out of the values and memories of an area's actual inhabitants (Kevin Lynch, 1974 in Tridib Banerjee and Michael Southworth, 1991). It needs to avoid hardship to the building owner created by conservation of historic districs. It needs historicity to manage the townscape. Historicity comprises the town plan, the building fabric and land utilization (Spiro Kostof, 1992). This means the city planning's value judgment should be decided through a process that involve various experts and certain community's representatives to reach a balance of many interests, including that of conservationists.

3. Conclusions

I have discussed in length the problem arises in the development of city in which the older parts should be the subjects of careful evaluation for protection or for renewal. It needs to consider values of various parties involved in the urban space development. The best way to achieve this is to involve as many citizens in the planning and conservation process. It is in this way that any movement, should it be of conservation to save our inner city or else, to be sustainable.