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Nowadays there are huge arguments between city development and conserving the past: some say old buildings should be replaced with modern buildings and shopping malls, because more money can be made from these developments. Some would argue that these valuable heritage sites should be preserved. In my opinion, historical heritage should be preserved as much as possible.
People claim that conserving the past has been portrayed as the alternative to economic development: either we have historic preservation, or we have economic growth. Their excuse for reconstructing the whole district is that it can create jobs and boost local economy by changing it into a more profitable land use, but actually preserving heritage by restoration can also create job opportunities. It is a high potential market to develop, because there are always valuable historic buildings and sites need to be preserved within the city, it even create more jobs than normal construction. In Norway, historic rehabilitation creates 16.5% jobs more than construction of new building; in England, there are about 86,000 skilled workers are employed to rehab almost 5 million historic sites and buildings around the country. As special skills are required for rehabilitation, training courses are provided throughout the globe, which helps to bring back the unemployed to equip themselves and work again.
In the area of the environment, people supports the idea of new development assert that after the heritage are demolished, it will be replaced by environmental friendly buildings which produce less greenhouse gases. Thanks for their caring effort, but the fact of minimizing the environmental impacts form architecture can be achieved by improvements and preservation of the existing buildings, including the old heritage. They forget to mention that by reusing an existing structure lowers the amount of raw materials required for new construction, which helps to suppress the air pollution problem by decreasing the embodied energy needed for production and transportation of the new materials. On the whole, when people preserve and rehabilitate a historic building, we are reducing waste; by that, we are recycling the world’s resources and reducing the level of pollution in the environment.
People claim that we can build more museums to recall people’s memories about history of their past, why bother wasting time and effort to preserve the old structure? Unfortunately, museums would offer a particular point of view about the past, therefore objects and images inside the museums can be described positively or negatively, depending on the object of the museum, or even the country. For example, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum in Japan has cause controversy: it only presented the destruction from the atomic bomb, but didn’t mention about their invasion history during the Second World War. Yet, if we are able to preserve historical buildings and heritage, people can discover more and develop their own perspective by observing the places by their own.
To conclude, heritage preservation would solve unemployment problem as it is a new market with high potential to develop; many unemployed will be encouraged to work for a living. Secondly, if we choose to keep the historic sites, less greenhouse gases will be emitted; reusing an existing structure can save raw materials indirectly, or can input those materials to make products that are demanded in the developing countries. Conserving the past would make us more environmental friendly and really saving the earth. Lastly, people observe and discover their unique identity by going through historic buildings, not by modern skyscraper. We have to encourage the protection of cultural and natural heritage around the world, as these heritage is a crucial value to human civilization. It doesn’t enough for local people to participate in the preservation, it also lead to a joint-hands cooperation between countries in the conservation of our world’s priceless sources of life and inspiration.
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