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The Preservation of 20th-Century Architectural Heritage in China:
Evolution and Prospects

Song Zhang

College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

ABSTRACT  This article examines the fundamental meaning of 20th-century architectural heritage by reviewing the formation of the concept by International Council on Monuments and Sites. It analyses the current state of conservation and potential threats to China’s built heritage, built environment, and cultural landscapes that are less than 50 years old. The article presents a thorough review of the facilitating process of the regulative infrastructure of Chinese modern architecture conservation. It makes a comparative study of several cities’ urban heritage assessment criteria as well as the first and second inventories of China’s 20th-century architectural heritage. The article argues that conserving China’s 20th-century heritage calls for a theoretical framework, which integrates value assessment and advancing the conservation mechanism for built heritage. In doing so, the transition may be facilitated from focusing on World Heritage towards heritage of the everyday, which embodies collective memories, and from preserving iconic monuments towards comprehensively conserving the built heritage.

KEYWORDS  20th-century heritage, recent past, architectural heritage, assessment criteria, conservation instrument

Received April 25, 2018; accepted May 22, 2018.

Updated on July 2, 2018.

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