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The Value of our Built Heritage

Excerpt from an essay by David Kilburn “The Value of Heritage, The Problem with South Korea”



“Perhaps the biggest problem of all is simply human neglect, the failure to act when the heritage from the past is in danger. Regulations alone cannot preserve culture. People need to recognize, value, and retain their heritage for it to survive.”


“Witness the story of ancient Rome (Lançon 2001). In 425 AD, When the city of Rome was already over 1,000 years old, the Emperor Majorian was so concerned about the demolition of historic buildings that he decreed that any public official who authorised such work should be fined 50lb kg of gold while those of lesser ranks who were involved should be flogged or have hands amputated! Despite the decree, over the centuries that followed, most of the ancient city was steadily destroyed. The real destruction was wrought not by invading barbarians, but by the Romans themselves who gradually demolished old buildings to re-use the marble blocks, and fired classical sculptures to make lime for builders and whitewash for painters. By the time people learned to appreciate the heritage of Ancient Rome, over 90% of it was gone: Rome had become a city of tantalizing ruins.”


“Heritage buildings are often destroyed in urban areas based on the argument that the land needs to be put to more productive economic uses or must serve more important social needs. Yet these arguments typically ignore the simple fact that heritage is an economic asset that, properly managed, can deliver continuing streams of revenue. Part of the attraction for the millions of tourists that flock to London, Paris, Venice, and other European cities each year lies in the exploration of historic buildings, districts, and all the many other factors that are part of each city’s cultural heritage. Cultural tourism provides employment, revitalizes old districts, and generates new opportunities in trade and the service industries.”


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