New Saving System


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(Application to Russian Architectural Strategy)



Each of us, regardless of geographical location:

a) uses the Internet;
b) watches Hollywood movies;
c) for one reason or another goes to McDonald's.

Yes, we gradually become involved in the same cultural space. The world unites and becomes more convenient. But there is one thing that is worth mentioning.

The global society in which we live dictates common standards, including the architectural environment. Already, the new house in Shanghai has no style differences from the new house in Rotterdam. Although 600 years ago this could not be in principle.

Different points of the planet, different countries, different peoples, and at the same time - similar forms of architecture. With each passing day, architecture in all corners of the Earth will come closer to a common denominator. Individual regional features of the architectural environment are likely to disappear.

Until now, the monuments of original architecture, built before the beginning of globalization, have reached. Sometimes it's even whole areas, made in the styles characterized for this place and period only. However, all these keepers of history are gradually being replaced by the actual, but impersonal geometry, the same for all countries of the world.

It can not be said that now the protection of historical monuments is completely absent. The situation is as follows: the local community is allocated an object with outstanding historical (the house in which Byron lived) or style (the temple of the Life-Giving Trinity in Ostankino) features. This object is protected by law from demolition and alteration. At the same time, ordinary buildings surrounding the object of protection and not possessing outstanding qualities are left to the mercy of fate and are simply doomed to replace by modern buildings.

And yet it is this unobtrusive, at first glance, background architecture that is the foundation of any historical environment.

Is it possible to give a "background" building a defensive status? If you try hard, you can. But assigning a defensive status is an insanely long process designed for fans of bureaucratic hardcore. And it's far from the fact that as a result of this painful procedure the building is recognized as valuable enough for protection. The main thing - during the battle for this building dozens of others around will be lost ...

This article presents photographs of the dead historic buildings. Please pay attention to the fact that they all had no security status. The functioning conservation system did not reach them until it was too late.

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And similar processes occur almost everywhere. Let's try to illustrate how cities with an outdated system of conservation are changing.



Old System: scheme of work


The picture below shows the first stage of the existence of a conditional settlement - the moment of foundation, many, many centuries ago:

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Years pass and a newly founded city develops. New buildings occupy vacant land near the center. All old architectural objects are preserved, because at this stage there is no shortage of land and there are no destructive factors:


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But at this stage, the destruction begins already. In a city there can be fires, floods, wars, natural deterioration of construction elements, changes in style or functional priorities of inhabitants... Now new buildings are erected not only near to old, but also on the place of the destroyed buildings:


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The processes of the destruction of the old and the creation of a new one continue. Centuries after the founding, in our city there is still no system regulating the preservation of the historical environment. The construction of previous periods is preserved accidentally: either in the form of ancient ruins, or in a relatively general, but modified state:


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And, finally, society has an awareness of the importance of preserving architectural monuments. But while it concerns only the most outstanding, beautiful buildings - mostly temples and palaces. And most of the city is, in fact, expendable material - ordinary buildings are demolished and replaced with more actual forms. The introduction of laws protecting monuments of architecture can be attributed to the 18-20 centuries, depending on the location of our city:


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We move further in time - chaos in the preservation of the architectural environment continues. Not only are the very valuable buildings demolished, or saved accidentally. At the same time, thanks to the development of transport, the city gets the opportunity for additional expansion (conditionally this is the end of the 19th - the beginning of the 20th century):


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Buildings are beginning to be built in international styles. The new architecture is now uncommon, and the old, with its original features, continues to disappear, despite a slight increase in the number of protected objects. Thanks to the development of engineering science, new volumes are incommensurably greater than the old ones. Historical architecture loses its aesthetic impact on the city:


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The moment of the maximum loss of an original historical environment. Outstanding monuments of the past are preserved, but the environment in which they were formed completely disappeared. Surrounded by large modern volumes, they look like an aliens and violate the integrity of the architectural environment of the future:


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What is the New Saving System?


We identified the main shortcoming of the existing system for the preservation of historical buildings. It consists in the protection of only individual buildings, and not the entire historical environment at once. In the end, the surviving buildings of the past become a strange elements, surrounded on all sides by a modern, dynamic city.

Fortunately, this error can be corrected!

So, the New Saving System. When it was created, we started from the following thoughts:

The historical environment and the modern environment are two different in spirit and scale systems, which must exist separately, without interfering with each other.

The historical environment is a universal value, therefore it must be preserved by us and passed on to future generations.

The system of preserving the historical environment in parts does not work. Only preserve the historical environment as a whole will work.

In the city there can be tens of thousands of historical buildings. Instead of defending tens of thousands, it is much easier to defend only one - the historical zone.

How does the New System work?

First, we establish the boundaries of the historical zone. Usually they are determined at the time of international architecture's appearance in the city/town/village. For most countries this is the 50-60s of the 20th century, when the devastation after the War and the demographic explosion required simple, inexpensive and massively replicable solutions. Exact spatial-temporal boundaries of the transition, of course, can vary depending on the location, but they can be clearly established everywhere.

Then, within the established boundary of the historical area, we look at the existing buildings. All modern buildings built after a certain date are subject to dismantling. In their place, the objects that existed here earlier are restored. Thus, the regeneration of the historical environment takes place. We fix what we inherited and correct the mistakes of the recent past for transmission to future generations. On the planet, there are already successful, really existing, regenerated cities - here, for example, the fully rebuilt Polish Gdansk:



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In order for the old part of the city to be visually open, it is possible to adjust the altitude of the nearby new quarters, having previously determined the boundary of the altitude regulation zone.

And more remote modern quarters are absolutely free in their development and can possess any necessary geometry.

Fundamentally important - the initial definition of the boundary of the historical zone occurs simply on the basis of maps of the terrain for the selected period and a cursory visual inspection of the existing building. Without exact scientific work - we need to save here and now. Further study and specification by specialists are necessary. But at the initial stage, in-depth studies, long reconciliations and scientific discussions will ruin the remnants of what's left. In addition, for missed time, large objects will be erected, the dismantling and resettlement of which are economically very complex.

Please pay attention to the integrity and effectiveness of the proposed System. It does not have a "patchwork" approach, when the energy and time of the city defenders go to create a protective status for one object with a parallel loss of dozens of others. It also does not have a personal approach, when the outstanding qualities of a building can be questioned by various influential people. The new system assumes that all historic buildings are priceless, as well as for archaeologists all their finds are priceless: from clay shards to gold jewelry. The artifact is worth saving only because of its age parameters, regardless of someone's subjective assessments.

The New System excludes the possibility of double interpretations, it is extremely logical and simple. There is a spatial boundary of the historical zone, and there is a temporal one. Each single building is either in the historical area or not. It is built either before the date that defines the time limit, or not. From here come the only possible solutions with respect to the building in question: it can be demolished and replaced with a previously existing one at this place, can be restored, or maybe left in the current state.

The factor of complete certainty of the System clearly indicates to the developer whether it is possible to erect a new object. If this is a historical zone, then only restoration or reconstruction is possible. If this is part of the modern area, immediately adjacent to the historical, - new construction is possible, but with a certain height. If the building site does not belong either to the historical zone or to the zone of its high altitude influence, then it is permissible to build absolutely any object.

In the New System, it is planned to abandon the existing in many countries division into monuments of state and regional significance. This separation seems to prompt the developer: some buildings are certainly important to the state, and some are important, but not very much. Therefore, the regional status of protection dramatically increases the likelihood of the building's death. We equally well defend the entire historical environment - from a peasant house in a remote village to a cathedral in the capital.

That's what the New Saving System looks like. Now let's look at the pictures that explain its work.



New System: scheme of work


Starting point. This is a conventional modern city. It retains small pieces of the past, lost in a new building of an international type. The historical environment is lost, despite the preservation of its individual parts.


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Stage 1: Borders. At the first stage, we look at the boundary of the historical zone. As a rule, it is adopted on the date of the appearance of international architecture (in the general case - 50-60s of the twentieth century). Next, we determine in which blocks the building's height adjustment is necessary - the border of the old and new cities will pass smoothly, not aggressively. The quarter with skyscrapers will not close an ancient temple. The rest of the territory of the settlement is completely free - you can build anything you like.


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Stage 2: Cleaning. In the border of the historical zone there will be no modern buildings (with rare exception). We demolish all buildings that destroy historical environment with their geometry.


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Stage 3: Trimming. To ensure that high buildings in the modern zone do not visually block the old town, we reduce their height in the neighborhoods where necessary.


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Stage 4: Regeneration. Now we can start a full regeneration. According to the preserved archival materials, the historical environment is fully reconstructed, such as it was on the eve of the moment of turning to international forms of architecture.

The reconstructed historical zone is protected and preserved. Buildings in the zone of altitude regulation can be replaced by new ones, with the condition of observing the correct height. The development outside the historical zone and the zone of high-altitude regulation can develop absolutely freely.


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New Saving System & post-Soviet space

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The New Saving System is a universal tool that can be applied to almost any corner of the globe. Of course, there are always regional features that can affect certain parameters of the System. Let's consider in general outline the scheme of work of our System in the post-Soviet space.

At the time of its collapse, the Soviet Union included 15 republics, whose territories had long belonged to the Russian Empire before the USSR. Despite the fact that such a vast territory is represented by a very diverse initial architectural environment (St. Petersburg, of course, differs from Bukhara), the last one and a half or two centuries, the actual architecture in these countries was formed in a single direction, set from the cultural center.

The history of Russian architecture of the 20th century is characterized by a very convenient for us clarity of the development direction.

At the beginning of the century, the fashion dictated the European trends on the one hand, and folk traditions on the other. Approximately since the establishment in 1917 of Soviet Russia, folk traditions began to weaken, remaining relevant only in remote areas or in the form of professionally made stylizations. All-European forms came to the fore, somewhat modified under the influence of socialist ideas. At the same time, it is important that the tone of the architectural movement began to be set strictly from the center: in fact, private property was abolished, and the possibility of private construction of an object is more serious than a hut. Almost all construction, all design in the USSR were state, therefore the ideological component of the new architecture was proclaimed by the state.

In 1955 another sharp change of course sets in. From the architecture, the architect is eliminated. Here, of course, refers to the famous government decree of November 4, 1955 #1871 "On the elimination of excesses in design and construction." The decorative details are removed, only an "honest" box remains, providing a unit of population with the minimum necessary area. Depriving the architecture of "excesses" moved it into the space of the then-current international style. Now the conditional building built in the USSR was no different from the building built, say, in France. Regional features are almost invisible and replaced by globalized forms.

Since this moment, most of the buildings are officially deprived of aesthetic value. The model of rejection of architecture as art, proclaimed in 1955, continues to operate until 1991, i.e. before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

After 1991, in 15 newly formed states, there are almost no architects who can create a high-quality architecture. Almost four decades the architect, as a specialist, was not required - his role was assumed by the economy blindly setting all the parameters of the new building.

Therefore, the Soviet international style of 1955-1991. is replaced by the style of the 90's - actually the continuation of the Soviet mass building, with the introduction of elements of postmodernism.

Thus, we can divide the entire architecture of the post-Soviet countries into 4 groups:


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Undoubtedly, the buildings from the first 2 groups, built before 1955, represent a huge historical value. These are really interesting and original examples of Russian and Soviet architecture that we need to preserve.

But the buildings from the last two groups, as a rule, have no historical value. The group of 1955-1991 is not interesting completely officially - proceeding from the resolution of 1955, it is only a "transhipment" point, and not a real architecture. The group after 1991 is also largely uninteresting - it was created by developers, architects and builders, using inertia using a modified model of the previous period.

Therefore, the boundary of the historical area in a conditional post-Soviet city can be quite confidently called the border as of 1955.


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We save and regenerate the entire architecture until 1955, but with a small condition. The fact is that as a result of the Soviet struggle against religion in the 30s, many churches were destroyed. Therefore, in a number of cases, the Stalinist architecture can be replaced with the regenerated pre-revolutionary churches.

Let's look at the step-by-step scheme for implementing the New System of Conservation in the post-Soviet countries.


New System: work in post-Soviet space


Starting point. So it looks like a conventional Post-Soviet city before the introduction of the New System of Conservation. The historical center is chaotically fragmented by new buildings, the whole historical environment is completely missing in the city. Buildings are protected randomly, there are constantly destructions with subsequent replacement by modern forms.


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Stage 1: Borders. At the first stage of the implementation of the New System, we define the boundaries of the historical and high-altitude zones. The historical zone is selected as of 1955, the boundaries of the altitude zone are determined by location, based on the relief.


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Stage 2: Cleaning. In the historical zone, we demolish almost all of the architecture that has arisen since 1955. There are only isolated, separately negotiable copies that slightly influence the integrity of the historical environment.


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Stage 3: Trimming. We regulate the number of stories in the high-rise zone so that the churches of the 17th century could not be closed by twenty-storied "anthills". Demolition of modern buildings in the high-altitude zone is partial, the lower floors remain.


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Stage 4: Regeneration. In place of demolished buildings, we completely restore what was on this site until 1955, focusing on the available sources. In this case, some buildings of 1917-1955. can be replaced with replicas of temples demolished in the 30s.

As a result, we have a completely restored and integral historical environment in any locality. Buildings of historical value are fully protected from any interference by developers. At the same time, modern architecture can be absolutely free to develop in territories that do not belong to the historical and high-altitude zones.


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A New Saving System can work in your city. Please, share the information you have read. Thank you!



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