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By Peter Larkham

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Sample text

The urban landscape itself, representing a cultural asset and significant past investment, is not merely of intrinsic importance in this perspective but is also the key to formulating theories and processes of urban landscape management. It is to this end, and the particularly problematic aspect of conservation and planning, that this volume is aimed. THE STRUCTURE OF THIS VOLUME This volume explores ideas of continuity and change in the urban landscape through close examination of development trends and case studies.

Thus the argument for a decline in interest in the past in terms of building style – and thus by inference, in attitudes towards conservation and preservation of the genuine heritage – is not proven. Indeed, this continued fascination with the past, its evocation and recreation, has been described as a fatal obsession, and a symptom of national decline and loss of confidence in the future (Hewison 1987; MacCannell 1976). Instead of a decline in interest in the past, there appears to be an upsurge in the number of explanations for conservation.

For example, the twelfth-century interior of the parish church at Shobdon, Herefordshire, was set up on a hill overlooking the church following the eighteenth-century remodelling of the church itself into a more acceptable style. At the time, this was seen as praiseworthy (Thompson 1981:17). By the end of the century, however, the prevailing aesthetic mood had undergone an almost complete reversal. This was spurred on by the activities of the more innovative of The history of urban conservation 31 the social élite, who had begun to introduce the aesthetic of the ‘beautiful’, ‘sublime’ and ‘picturesque’ into late eighteenth-and early nineteenth-century philosophy and psychology, and these concepts also became evident in architecture (Price 1794; Hipple 1957; Pevsner 1968).

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