GRE Issue Essay 99
“Most people would agree that buildings represent a valuable record of any society’s past, but controversy arises when old buildings stand on ground that modern planners feel could be better used for modern purposes. In such situations, modern development should be given precedence over the preservation of historic buildings so that contemporary needs can be served.”
How have we educated ourselves about the history of mankind? It is through the historical buildings we see around us that we get an idea of how our forefathers lived. Heritage buildings and other forms of old constructions not only give us an insight into the living conditions of the past, but they are also eye-openers as far as the architecture in the past is concerned. However, what happens when these old buildings occupy land that can be effectively utilized for some modern construction? Instead of hastily deciding to demolish the old buildings or obstinately sticking to not letting a scratch come to the old buildings, the best solution would be to strike a balance between the preservation of the old architecture and the construction of buildings designed to serve modern needs.
We have always been curious to unearth the secrets behind the constructions carried out in the past which still continue to baffle all of us. Stonehenge in Britain is one the world’s most astounding piece of architecture. The construction of the Stonehenge is shrouded in mystery and man has only been able to speculate as to how it may have been constructed in the age when there were hardly any construction tools available. Take the example of the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Egypt, which are yet another architectural marvel. These pieces of architecture have served the purpose of throwing light on the lifestyles of ancient civilizations. Other old buildings or constructions may not be as famous or as baffling as the examples quoted above, but each old building provides us with immense information related to our forefathers. Not only do we get priceless information about the construction techniques in the past, but we also get access to various resources that help us understand our past.
It is obvious that demolishing old buildings can never be adjudged as the correct decision no matter how crucial the new construction is for the present society because demolishing an old building would be something like erasing a part of our history. There are numerous examples of old palaces, forts and heritage buildings that have been converted into luxury hotels that house shopping malls as well. The architecture, look and feel of the original buildings have been retained along with the new modern constructions. This is the best solution wherein an old building has not been completely damaged and it has been successfully modified into a building that serves the needs of the present society.
It is not necessary that it will be easy to strike such a balance in the case of every such controversy where a modern construction and an old building are concerned. For instance, consider a case wherein oil has been struck in the land which is a part of a heritage building. Should the old building be demolished to make way for an oil rig which is in the interest of the nation or should the government preserve the heritage building and ignore the oil well that lies below it? It would be a tough decision, but the government will have to find a solution wherein the oil can be pumped out without any damage to the old building.
The past, present and future are all very important in the development of a society. No society can afford to ignore its past in order to move into the future. The society should carefully strike a balance wherein it is able to preserve its past while being able to attend to the common man’s needs in the face of urbanization. Therefore, the best solution would be to find a solution by somehow preserving the old buildings and at the same time, allowing the new constructions also to come up.