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22. 11. 2005

Heritage policies + Architectural policies = Cultural planning

Bernard Colenbrander
Culture politics normally does not include spatial politics: they are different domains of bureaucracy and politics. This does not prevent the interest, from the side of culture politics, for policies concerning spatial governance.

In the Netherlands two basic arguments have resulted in active cultural concern for the case of spatial development during the 19th and 20th centuries. The first argument came (starting c. 1850) from the responsibility, felt for heritage (monuments), being recognized as an important contribution to the national identity, expressed in matter.

The second argument came (during the 1980’s) from the responsibility, felt for the architectural culture as a creative factor in modern society. Both arguments came together recently in an integrated policy for, as it was called, ‘cultural planning’. Aiming at serious influence on very real building tasks, executed on the building site at the present moment, the success of this integrated policy remains nevertheless unproven for the moment. Perhaps it may even be called a failure, as the concept of cultural planning seems unable to result in executing real power on the building site.

In the end, even if cultural planning fails, two basic pillars seem of vital importance for cultural policies concerning spatial development: a good system for subsidies, both for monuments and cultural projects stimulating the case of a good architecture; a vital infrastructure of cultural institutes (from national museum to local architecture centre) concerning architecture and its history.

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Bernard Colenbrander (1956) is professor of architectural history and theory at the Technical University Eindhoven. He worked for many years at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, finally as chief curator. Among his publications are Style: Standard and Signature in Dutch Architecture (1993), Reference: OMA (1995), De Verstrooide Stad (The Dispersed City), his Ph.D. study (1999), and Dutchtown (1999). Starting in 2000 he worked part time for the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, being responsible for policy concerning spatial planning. He also started his independent research practice. Since 2001 he is connected to the rebuilding project of Roombeek, Enschede, city area destroyed by a firework explosion the year before. He is working there as a chronicler of the planning process. His last publications were a monograph on the Dutch architect Frans van Gool (2005) and the Limes Atlas (2005), describing the spatial setting of the Dutch part of the antique Roman border.
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