CONSERVATION:Conservation Work

- Dr. Pearson’s Presentation -

March 23, 2017 as a part of World Heritage Council Meeting
Nagasaki City
The challenges in Successfully Conserving and Managing our World Heritage Property

Dr. Pearson:
Thank you very much. I’ve been working for this project for 8 to 9 years and it feels like coming back home. I’ll touch on our program today briefly. The challenges in successfully conserving and managing our World Heritage Property. You have achieved the listing of ONE World Heritage Property. And this is sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution – Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining. You have as a group of government organisations succeeded in achieving this scheme and that has taken a lot of effort and commitment which is to be history. But in another way the job’s only just begun.

One of the critical things I want to talk about is that as I said, you have achieved in this scheme only one world heritage property. The series is one property. It has 23 components which are spread over eight areas. And here is the list of the properties which make up that one world heritage area. One of the challenges facing it now is to ensure that the presentation and interpretation of each of these component parts is related to the world heritage values of the one physical property.

There is a very real risk which we experienced in Australia in the serial nominations of wealth. A very low risk that each of these areas or these component parts will present its own story. And you need a system to ensure that this big story which binds them all together as world heritage property is also told at each place. And each place recognises that they are part of a whole.

This is just a summary of the outstanding universal value of that one world heritage property. I won’t read it out now because unfortunately it’s also non-Japanese here. But in summary, it’s saying that this group of sites is important because it represents the transfer of industrial revolution to Japan in a very short space of time and in a way which was not achieved by any other country outside the west for at least another 100 years.

That process of transfer of the industrial revolution took place in a series of historical developments through the late 19th century and it involved coal mining, the development of iron and steel technology, and the development of ship building capacity.
The threat, the risk is that each of the individual component parts will entail their end of the part of that story.

So the ship building site here at Nagasaki might be tempted – I need to tell the story about ship building and ignore coal mining and ignore the iron-steel processes that produced the steel that they used for ship building. Or Gunkanjima and Miike, I don’t need to tell the story of coal mining or Yawata, but I need to tell the story of iron and steel making. But that’s only telling one-third of the story about why these sites are of world heritage significance.

So one of your challenges is to ensure that the presentation, interpretation of each property respects and presents the importance of the other properties as well. One of the other things which will undoubtedly face you as a consortium, as a committee going to the future is managing these properties to conserve the world heritage values.

As this slide suggests, the world heritage process is based on a system of value-based management, values ensuring the planning, the development and the management of heritage site, that triggered conservation of all values in the long term. And this is a principle basis for each of the CMPs conservation management plans that have been written for each of the properties in the world heritage series.

And continuing this process of value-based management is process of accurately assisting and recognising all the culture values of each site. Not just the world heritage values but also the national values and the local values. Part of it is researching and assessing the conservation issues and the management issues to viewpoint of their impact on heritage values.

As an example, tomorrow we open the team Gunkanjima. There the question is we undoubtedly have to do work to protect the island from the sea and to deal with the management reality of a collapsing infrastructure. How does that process involve thinking about the world heritage values of Gunkanjima and the national values of Gunkanjima. And having sure that those two things are done together. Protecting the values and achieving the management objectives. The answer to that question is if the exercising of problem solving skills and using initiative to solve issues.

Talking about the issues, bringing in development skills and coming up with solutions which achieve both management objectives and conservation of the heritage values. That will allow you and to develop policies and strategies that are needed for conservation of the world heritage values and of the national values, and for those to be embedded in your conservation management plans for each of the areas. And base – the bottom of that process that the base principle is that all management decisions should aim at the conservation of values.

This is just to remind you, not that you need any reminding of the range of properties that are in this world heritage property. Ports, furnaces, active workshops, active dry docks, non-active stick ways, old factories, archaeological sites, mining remains; it’s a wide range of sites.

Achieving conservation and achieving interpretation of all of those diverse sites with a single message about world heritage values is a challenge but it’s one that I think Japan is now well equipped to address. But I’ll raise just a few management and conservation issues which I think will arise over the next few years in relation to the management and conservation of these sites.

One of the key issues which is particularly drawn to focus by industrial sites is respecting the evidence of all values and of all periods. And the issue here is that the – one of the traditional approaches used in Japan in addressing heritage sites is a principle of “fukugen”, putting it back into original form. Not necessarily from the objective industrial sites, where value can build over time with changes in use and technology and where the loss of the earlier fabric can in itself be significant.

This is not a new idea and in fact it is already one of the principles within the ICOMOS Venice Charter which has been one of the underpinning principle documents adopted by the cultural agency and the Venice Charter, and article 11 says, “The valid contributions of all periods to building of a monument or site must be respected since unity of style is not the aim of the restoration.”

As an example of this, so shipyard, you see across the harbour, the red circles are around the elements of the components that are part of the world heritage series. Now in terms of spatial relationships, these are part of a ship building system. But with changes over time, there’s no way that you can return that relationship to an earlier form because you cannot do it.

Again, Mitsubishi shipyards with the individual component parts, although the crane and the guest house are in their near original form. In the case of the crane, not in its original location. In the case of the pattern shop and in particular in the case of the dry dock, they are in much altered form and there’s no way that you could return them to their Meiji era appearance or fabric. So management here has to accept that presentation of the history and significance of the pattern shop and of the dry dock has to accept that change has taken place.

There are a couple of examples where the actual loss of fabric, the loss of private place is an important historic statement in itself. So Hagi Castle, the demolition of the castle in 1974 is important evidence and an important visual trigger to the visitor about the impact of the Meiji restoration, both historically and symbolically from Japanese physical and social structures. So reconstruction of the castle on its original location really distort the evidence of the history of the Meiji restoration which underpins the introduction of the industrial revolution.

One of the other temptations on some of these sites is to reconstruct ruins or to reconstruct from archaeological remains, some interpretation of what was the original. So the ruins and intricate structures and archaeological sites tell their own story. Like have their own history which needs to be interpreted. The Venice Charter explains on that and says the restoration for example must stop at the point where conjecture begins. And it also says in relation to archaeological sites that all reconstruction should be ruled out afterward.

The creation of replicas, of copies of places is fine as an interpreted process as long as that is done somewhere where it does not damage the values and does not draw from the understanding of the real place, the thing that is there now. The thing that is left. An example that is at Mietsu, an archaeological site, a very important and a very impressive archaeological site to return the archaeological evidence to some conjectural former condition would both destroy the evidence and would be based on largely on guess work.

But there are other ways of telling the story of archaeological sites. As you can see, the photos in the corner – this is now a year, year and a half, two years old. These are models to show how the archaeological material led to the original dry dock. This is one way of doing it. And I now understand that they are using virtual reality goggles to recreate what the site might have looked like for visitors. So interpretation doesn’t have to be based on the physical reconstruction of these sites.

Probably the most convincing argument for the possibility of returning to original form in your series is Gunkanjima. Gunkanjima, the challenge for you is managing decay so it will still retain values. It’s not only that Gunkanjima has been abandoned for 40 years, it’s also that it has this sort of weather. This is a severe environment and the best you can do is delay decay, protect key issue, key elements within it. But there’s no way of conserving all of the good fabric of Gunkanjima. And I had trouble even conserving like my colleague Duncan Marshall here from collapsing… from a typhoon damage.

The final example for that, the Hashima theatre; one of the key communal, community facilities on the island as it was, as it decayed and as it is now. There is no way that that will be recovered as a building. So the challenge now is to be able to recover it in the memory and in the vision of the visitor through interpretation. That’s the only option we now have.

Final example chosen, I’ll give you, I’ll try and make it very brief, because I’m short among the target, is about ensuring continued industrial use of those three sets of properties which still have active industrial uses. And the importance of allowing and enabling the continuation of traditional industrial uses where they still exist is underpinned by the joint ICOMOS-TICCIH principles, the Dublin principles which are adopted by the management system for project series.

Ms. Toya:
All right. So Mike, it is quite important, would you mind to just repeating what you have said about the Dublin principles please?

Dr. Pearson:
That the process of allowing ongoing industrial operation is embedded in the Dublin principles. It is part of the Dublin principles and the Dublin principles have been adopted by the cabinet secretariat and by the consortium as the basis for the management system for the world heritage series. So in adopting them, Japan has accepted that ongoing operations is a valid and necessary part of the ongoing management of some of the components of the series.

So quickly some examples of that, Miike Port with its 1908 infrastructure still working for an operational commercial port. The Mitsubishi shipyards cast a way here; they can't leave a crane, the dry dock, the pumps for the dry dock. In continuous use and will remain so for the foreseeable future. They are still economically viable as industrial infrastructure and they’ll continue to be used as such and still retain their world heritage values.

The other example, the Mitsubishi is central park guest house where it is not an industrial use as such but is a related use. It’s industrial function and it is an amazing time piece of guest house anywhere in the world and very much linked to industrial history of Mitsubishi. And in the Yawata complex we have the ongoing use of the repair workshop and the use of the ongoing pumping station as active components of the steel works.

The implications of maintaining operations is that you have to allow for some degree of change to allow the operation to keep up to date with technological changes and operational requirements. Two attempts of that, one is the Onga River Pumping Station where the operation of the new weir, the new water containment process required a new control house and a new storage for the boards that hold back the water. And these were allowed to proceed because they did not directly impact on the values of the pumping station itself. And it’s worth noting that to reduce the impact of yet another building in the pumping station precinct, the boards door, is in fact buried underground.

The last example you use is at Miike Port where the original break water which gives access to the port was decaying and was being impacted by weather conditions, and there was a need to both reinforce the wall and to heighten the wall to make it safe for ongoing ship operations. In this process, some of the original fabric was covered, but was not ruined, and either function of the port was maintained which is one of the critical values of the port.

So full message already with – one is one world heritage property. It means a clear shared information messages interpretation for the one property. And the other three in very quick succession, applying the value-based management; respecting all significance and all developments on the site. Respecting, not necessarily keeping everything but respecting all of them and those that have value with them. And enabling industrial uses to continue on operational styles.