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The “other side” of architectural reconstruction

Professional, social and political questions in architectural reconstruction by the example of old bridge in mostar

Építés - Építészettudomány
Authors: Maja Toshikj and Ákos Zsembery

Focusing on architectural reconstructions after armed conflicts1 in the area of the former Yugoslav republics2, we would like to present the “other side” of the reconstruction by the example of the Old Bridge in Mostar; or rather, what is determinative in this special area of monumental preservation over the professional consideration: the social and political aspects. These aspects will be dealt with in more detail by examining the overall post-conflict reconstruction situation of cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina, involving diverse opinions from experts and international assistance. This article re-examines, among others, the prosperity of the recovery indicating an authenticity question, posed as: “how far can an authentic experience be recreated or conjured through the simulation of an absent original monument?”3

We evaluate the process and stages of the reconstruction of the Old Bridge in a spirit of “identical” restoration, by understanding its structure and rebuilding in identical shape and dimension, using original materials and construction techniques, based on archival documents. The judgement of the architectural reconstruction or rebuilding also depends on multiple aspects: the recognition and assertion of the hierarchy of values — material or physical, as well as intangible or immaterial. Delayed in the process, by nearly a decade due to the political and economic situation, it is important to evaluate several problems that occur, emphasizing in turn: the question of the original form, original spaces in the mirror of the history that formed in another way. This side raises ethical and moral questions as well.

The approach and judgement of the architectural reconstruction is also different in the republics of the former Yugoslavia after the recent armed conflict. Seeing the diverseness in the social and political background the question arises whether the new reconstruction is another layer in the “stratigraphy” of the monument or it is the lockup of the past?

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