Siegen / 29.09. - 01.10.2022

  Conference in Siegen © Uni Siegen

Everyday inheritance

The annual meeting of the Working Group Theory and Teaching of Historic Preservation took place in Siegen from September 29 to October 1, 2019


The everyday has made up the bulk of building production at all times. These very buildings and ensembles are often characteristic of a place and, as evidence of everyday culture, exemplary of their time. Buildings of the recent past as well as representatives of less representative building types have long since become part of our understanding of cultural heritage.

However, hierarchizing criteria such as design quality and degree of innovation still form aspects for designation as cultural heritage in the course of further selection processes. Particularly at the local and regional level, however, it is precisely the everyday buildings typical of the time that shape living spaces even through their mass occurrence, and usually without being technically or constructively innovative or of particular artistic quality - i.e. not "highlights" and thus often not monuments.

Against this background, an everyday heritage comes into focus, which for a long time lay "under the radar" of research: vernacular architecture, the bulk of everyday buildings and the so-called "gray architecture". Related, mostly interdisciplinary research and practices focus on the dimensions of meaning of testimony, identity creation, or memory with a corresponding emphasis on the actors:inside and the processes and ask how hitherto excluded forms of heritage can be made visible beyond established narratives and selection criteria. In doing so, the proposals range from subverting the canon and setting up a counter-canon to a rejection of any hierarchizing selection.

But how can we counter the impending loss of buildings characteristic of their time and region without triggering the feared "inflation" of monuments? How do we deal with the criticism of the practice of protection of primarily locally and regionally significant buildings, which appears to be inconsistent and non-transparent? To what extent do methods of canonization remain dependent on notions emanating from periphery and center? With which existing and tested, but perhaps also yet to be developed instruments could this everyday heritage be protected and preserved? And finally: How can these often inconspicuous, less spectacular contemporary documents be communicated to the public?