Defining ‘historical or ‘contemporary’ in the debate about the renewal of the urban fabric of reconstructed German cities, which has been in progress for several decades (Petzet, 1988; Bode, 2004), is almost never simple or unequivocal, and is more drastically a result of the contrast of true/false and authentic/copy. Similarly, it is not easy to place urban summaries – aesthetic or critical-semantic – in definitive categories that ex-novo reproduce tracts of the historic city by substituting what were already totally innovative urban plots or ones belonging to a Modern heritage. The first case examined is the reconstruction (2011-2019) of the blocks of buildings in the Dom Römer neighbourhood in Frankfurt, which stands on the original area destroyed by bombing during the Second World War and which was entirely saturated in a building complex from the late 1970s. The demolition of the building volumes – entirely incongruous in function, form, and meaning – and reconstruction of the original Fachwerkhäuser by anastylosis (Herk, 2019) obeys a deeply felt ethical imperative shared by the Citizenry and Local Government even though radically opposed by the architectural culture that has not been sparing in its severe criticism of the initiative (Oswalt, 2018). It is clear how in the restoration in this urban context reconstructed according to the Modern Movement, the principles of romantic urbanism have prevailed in the restoration of the lost historic fabric (Wolfrum, 2012) even if tempered by philological rigour in the adoption of historic types, models, and technologies. Furthermore, given the positive effect on tourism, its popularity with operators is significant. Distinctly manifesting itself in the second case is the delicate balance between Gesamtkunstwerk values (complete works of art) and “emotive-experiential” restoration work in the urban restoration of the Böttcherstrasse in Bremen, a masterpiece of German Expressionism, where this Hanseatic city has had the maximum of cultural-artistic attraction since it was restored (1988-1999) (Skalecki, 2013). Reflection between “creativity” and “reality” in the context of “new Urbanism” in an “immer neue alte Stadt” (an “always new Old City”) is invited and also on the legitimisation of the anastylistic urban re-composition, the reasons for the stigma of transformations judged to be “nostalgic and regressive” being historically attenuated, which means there is no betrayal of the ethical values of Modernity.
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