Beyond Restoration: Architectural Revival, Survival, and Memory

Association of Art Historians (AAH) 2016 Annual Conference and Book Fair

University of Edinburgh, April 7 – 9, 2016
Deadline: November 9, 2015

AAH Session Convenors:
Robyne Calvert, Glasgow School of Art, r.calvert@gsa.ac.uk
Ayla Lepine, University of Essex, ayla.lepine@gmail.com

On 23 May 2014, a fire ravaged the historic Glasgow School of Art building, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh c.1897–1909. Although the majority of the building was saved, a small but significant portion of the interior and collection was destroyed, including its renowned library. The immediate reaction of many stakeholders was that restoration should be approached as a ‘faithful’ recreation of the original. However, some suggest that this strategy would be a mistake, and that what was lost could never be recovered without it being a dissatisfying pastiche. Some even claim to know the mind of the architect, declaring that Mackintosh would never have rebuilt the space in the same way, so why should his design be reconstructed in the 21st century?

Taking this crucial and controversial event as a springboard for wider dialogue, this panel seeks to investigate architectural heritage within the frameworks of destruction, restoration, reconstruction, revival, and survival. Is it responsible or even possible to craft ‘faithful’ reconstructions? How do revivals and reconstructions contribute to cultural history as moments of innovation as well as tradition or continuity? What impulses motivate a desire to reinvent the past, if we accept that it can never be replicated or recovered? To what extent do debates regarding style, regionalism, globalisation and collaboration impact upon restoring the built environment?

Papers are invited from the widest possible range of approaches and international perspectives across periods and geographies, with particular interest in topics that focus on revivalism, memory and reconstruction in architectural practices and theories of conservation.

Email 250-word paper proposals to the session convenor(s) by 9 November 2015. Full proposal guidelines here:
http://www.aah.org.uk/annual-conference/sessions2016/session9

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