20th century built heritage

The majority of buildings in the Baltic Sea region derive from the latter part of the twentieth century and the effects of municipal planning from the postwar era are still prevalent.

In spite of the former east-west division of the region, during the Cold War period, and the different political ideologies that determined municipal planning and architecture, there are many architectural similarities in performance with regard to the interpretation of the welfare society. One could argue that this was the peak of Nordic architecture where especially Finland played a major role, as mediator, for the architectural development on the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea.

Kvarteret Plankan, Stockholm 1964-68, architect Lars Bryde. Photo Cissela Génetay

The condensation and expansion of cities and the depopulation of the rural landscape are ongoing worldwide trends. For example, these shifts are expressed in demographic mobility, in technological achievements, in economic growth but also in changes in social and cultural behavior, that is, changes in lifestyle. The postwar and postmodern 20th century built cultural heritage is considered to be at risk in the face of these ongoing social and political changes, the Baltic Sea region is no exception. There is consequently an urge for a more responsible, balanced and comprehensive approach on how postwar and postmodern architecture, in terms of cultural heritage, can contribute to social, cultural and economic aspects of sustainable development.

Deeper knowledge of postwar 20th century built heritage, and particularly postmodern built heritage, is decisive as is to elaborate common approaches for cultural assessment and conservation. In order to tackle the specific challenges of postwar 20th century built heritage there is a strong need for closer cooperation in the region.  A closer collaboration can contribute to a mutual better understanding of the various values that can be ascribed to this period from a Baltic Sea region perspective and can also contribute to a better understanding of the region’s shared history.

Palace of weddings, Vilnius 1968-74, architect Gediminas Baravykas. Photo Mart Kalm

The Working Group 20th Century Built Cultural Heritage is a platform, or network, for sharing knowledge, practice, methods and other relevant information connected to the topic in a Baltic Sea Region perspective. The regional Working Group, composed by researchers, architects and cultural managers, planned the conference From Postwar to Postmodern – 20th Century Built Cultural Heritage. The conference addressed the historical legacy of postwar twentieth century architecture in the context of the Baltic Sea region and took place in September 2016 in Kiel within the framework of the 6th Baltic Sea Region Cultural Heritage Forum. The report on the conference will be published in the spring of 2017. For further information about the conference, please read: www.Kiel-heritage-forum-2016.eu

Site Specific Art as Cultural Heritage

The site specific public art, or architectural bound art, bear reference to mural paintings, sculptures or textiles integrated with public buildings. The state financed site specific public art has had a prominent role in the Swedish welfare state during the 20th century. It includes more than 1 600 works of art and thousands more if you also consider those owned by municipalities and regional counties. The site specific public art is at risk today as conservation and maintenance has not been a priority and as it has not been considered as part of cultural heritage. It is therefore of great importance to strengthen the conditions in order to preserve the architectural bound art from the 20th century as part of the modern cultural heritage.

The Swedish National Heritage Board, in cooperation with the Swedish Arts Council, intends to draw up a proposal on how increased knowledge, supervision and management can improve care and legal protection of the site specific art in Sweden. The mission has close connection to that work the Swedish National Heritage Board performs within the framework of the Baltic Region Heritage Committee (BRHC) and the working group of the 20th Century Built Cultural Heritage.