Connecting river banks and cultures, bridge are a work which has, today, acquired great symbolic value, whether as historical testimony or contemporary creation. Reconstruction of the Mostar Bridge (which is part of a property inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005: Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina) has been a particularly strong example of this, and, more recently, the shock caused by destruction (Bordeaux, France) and construction (Dresden, Germany), plus numerous other cases the World Heritage Committee faces.
From a heritage perspective numerous bridges protected by national status or included on the World Heritage List are threatened today. How can new uses and rules for identical restoration, respect for authenticity, and the needs of traffic and safety be reconciled? Can the construction of new bridges in protected sites enhance their character? How can planning and economic development be reconciled without altering the traditional landscape?
From a development perspective, numerous new infrastructure projects may threaten areas, sites and landscapes and have impacts which need to be clearly evaluated hopefully before the project design. Because what is at stake here, is managing change and sustainable territorial development and insuring that culture and heritage’s importance is fully taken into account.
This international seminar was held from 26 to 28 November 2008, in Paris, France, under the auspices of UNESCO. It was co-sponsored by the National Institute of Cultural Heritage (INP) and the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine (centre for architectural study, research, exhibition and museum) with the participation of the French National Commission, l'École nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (school of engineering), and the French Ministry of Culture within the framework of the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement. It enabled review of heritage issues connected to this type of construction and the degrees of knowledge and inventory; protections implemented and omitted; issues of restoration and development; uses reserved for decommissioned bridges, etc. Several participants presented case studies connected to issues of authenticity, restoration pressures and upgrading. A number of contemporary projects were presented focusing on the complexity of this type of operation, the gap in professional knowledge, problems in governance in the area of infrastructure projects and standardization of decision-making processes at the local and national levels.