Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Don’t Forget the Country

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thetyee.ca

Michael Kluckner wants us to honour rural heritage buildings as well as urban ones.

By Charles Campbell

This a long piece but well worth the read. BC is losing its heritage. In cities because of the pace of development, in rural areas because there is no money. Mr Kluckner is going back to Australia having published many books on BC’s vanished heritage. For me it seems a bit odd to refer to buildings that are 150 years at the oldest as ‘heritage’ – but that’s because of where I come from. I am also pleased that the author of this piece recognises the contribution of the National Trust, but it must also be said that “death duty”, as the UK inheritance tax is called, played a large part, as endowments to the NT allowed for a measure of tax relief and allowed people to live in their homes as long as most of the building is opened to the public for at least part of the year.

I also appreciated the parallels between conservation and the urban environment

“I always felt that the worst canard that has ever been foisted on Vancouver is that it will always be Vancouver because it has the beautiful mountains and the view and the harbour.

“In the 1980s and 1990s, the city — particularly the residential parts of the city — didn’t have an understanding of the values that made the place so interesting to live in. And it was the evolved neighbourhoods, the change in the layers of the landscape. I began to paint these things, focusing on things that were completely emotional as opposed to architectural. Dappled sunlight on the side of a building at a particular time of year, the way that the colours were. This is something that I would go back to every year to look at.

“As you clear-cut these neighbourhoods — this analogy of clear-cutting came up because it was so much a part of the environmental movement — it seemed to me that we were in the city at that time, and to a certain degree now in the multi-family [parts of the] city, we were living in something that was as visually interesting as a plantation forest.”

“I tried [as a heritage advocate] to make the connections between the broader issue of sustainability and the environmental movement and heritage preservation, which is about reuse, and about controlling the rate of change, and about having layers in the landscape. The media in general and the broader environmental movement is obsessed with seals and bears and so on, and can’t seem to make the connection between the way people live and the values they have about human-made objects and the richness of the city.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 8, 2006 at 8:28 pm

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