Preservation of Built Environments: Approaches to Aesthetic Ideals and Architectural Values

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When built environments and recently also cultural environments are to be preserved, the historic and architectural values are identified as the key motivations. In Denmark the SAVE system is used as a tool to identify architectural values, but in recent years it has been criticized for having a too narrow aesthetic goal, especially when it comes to the evaluation of built environments as a whole. Architectural value has therefore been perceived as a different concept than aesthetic value, primarily related to a static and unchanging expression. This fact creates problems in relation to current conservation tasks, which today include more and more untraditionally built environments, including cultural environments. Architectural value must in this case rather be associated with development, ongoing processes, and allow room for future change. The Danish architect Johannes Exner, defines architectural value in preservation work as a matter of maintaining the buildings -as keeping them "alive" and allowing this to continue in the future. The predominantly aesthetic preservation approach will stop the buildings' life process, which is the same as - "letting them die".

Finnebyen in Aarhus is an example of a residential area, where the planning authority currently has presented a preservational district plan, following guidelines from the SAVE method. The purpose is to protect the area's architectural values in the future. The predominantly aesthetic approach is here used coupled to the concept of architectural value, and has been met with much resistance. In this case the aesthetic goal seems to reduce the environments architectural values. This paper discusses the relationship between aesthetic ideals and architectural values, as opposites or as compatible, in the tools of the architectural preservation practice.

Original languageEnglish
Publication date2010
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventEnvironment, Aesthetics, and the Arts. Annual Conference of the Nordic Society for Aesthetics 2010 - Lahiti, Finland
Duration: 3 Jun 20106 Jun 2010


ConferenceEnvironment, Aesthetics, and the Arts. Annual Conference of the Nordic Society for Aesthetics 2010


  • Urban built environments
  • Municipal planning
  • Preservational value
  • Aesthetics
  • Mapping

Artistic research

  • No

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