Beyond the Scope of Preservation? On the life and potential national heritage protection of early Danish and Norwegian mass housing

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Why are some parts of the built environment protected as national heritage and others not? Listing is the most restrictive tool of Norwegian and Danish preservation in the built environment and creates a specific version of the past told through buildings and sites. The heritage authorities in both countries present listing as an instrument to protect a representative sample of all the country’s built structures and environments (in theory for eternity). The article examines the role of mass housing complexes, a significant product of the welfare states from the 1950s and onwards, in the practice of listing buildings in Norway and Denmark. We examine why two early mass housing neighbourhoods, Lambertseter in Oslo and Bellahøj in Copenhagen, have been considered worthy of listing, but without being listed as yet. The study shows how not only the official criteria for listing, but also tacit values established in architectural history and other mechanisms effect contemporary decisions about whether to list mass housing areas. In conclusion, we question the role of the official criteria for listing and instead call for a more open discussion about why and how listing creates national history.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordisk Kulturpolitisk Tidskrift
Issue number2/2014
Pages (from-to)210-235
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2014

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