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> Japan appears consistent in saying, yes, rebuilding or swapping out components keeps the identity. You see this attitude in "Japan's oldest temple, burned to the ground and rebuilt every 20 years". In the west we might argue that burning a building and rebuilding, would count as a new building.

That is a wrong example/comparison. Even in the west rebuilding an heritage is not considered as a new building.

In Europe rebuilding after a catastrophic event like fire is sometimes a requirement. Would you consider restoring Notre Dame as new building? I would not think so. What about Sagrada Familia? They are still not finished with the building. What about the Cologne dom? They are still not finished with the building.

Interesting examples I have seen are The Frauenkirche in Dresden (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dresden_Frauenkirche) and The Bratislava Castle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bratislava_Castle), both complete rebuilds (and both were ruins for a long time before they were rebuild). I have an uneasy relationship with these buildings. On the one hand, I understand the appeal of old buildings, and that people want them to be around again. On the other hand, I find it weird to build a building today that looks like it is an old one (Historismus?). Somehow, these buildings feel like lies to me, like a Disneyland or Las Vegas version of history. So I guess my (German) view is indeed quite different from the Japanese perspective described by GP.

Your view is not the German view vs the Japanese view, it's a German view vs a German view. There's many buildings in Germany which are rebuilds or being rebuilt, not for external tourists (i.e. Disneyland/Las Vegas) but for love of heritage. (I'm not accusing you of believing it, but you're perhaps entertaining it.)

But I don't understand this view. I like the design of old buildings. Why can't we build them again? It's just putting rocks on rocks. Why is it less authentic then putting rocks on rocks according to an uglier, isolating design?

In any case, we're constantly maintaining old buildings. Who knows how many parts of the buildings have been removed and put back, so they can replace some weak part inside?

I think it's highly unlikely that they will be lies. I went to see some old buildings in Indonesia, and they very happily said "we needed to make this construction more stable and restore it, so we removed all the stones, rebuilt the foundations, and put them all back in place".

No-one is lying.

(And if there is some problem, the problem is that modern architects always want to abandon tradition and build ugly buildings that look tacky in 50 years. Humans are capable of showing creativity and following tradition.)

Some churches have been built as a 300 year long project adhering to an original design. The materials and methods have been modified to fit the requirements as new challenges have been discovered along it's construction. The original creator long dead, these monuments to creating something of enduring value stand tall as symbols of a 300 year success.

When the church falls over and needs a total repair it changes. Today we can build those same churches much quicker, cheaper and with higher accuracy. We can pump out those buildings in a decade that used to take 300yrs. Replacing the building with modern industry changes the meaning of the building to reflect how much a society can pour into maintaining the past. The original achievement fell apart when the bricks gave way.

People who say it still represents the same thing it did when it was built are not telling the full truth.

> Notre Dame as new building? I would not think so. What about Sagrada Familia? They are still not finished with the building. What about the Cologne dom?

The last two are very modern buildings

Notre dame was rebuilt a few times, but never completely

We do "conservation of cultural heritage" in the west and we have been doing it for centuries

The "Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano" Is

> a 600-year-old organization that was established to supervise the construction of the Cathedral of Milan (the "Duomo"). The organization is still active and involved with the maintenance, preservation, and restoration of the cathedral.

I used to be bothered by reconstructions, especially ones rebuilt in the 20th century. But since then I've realized just how fragile and transient buildings can be, and how much effort it takes to maintain the ones we've got. If it takes modern rebuilding to bring back the experience of being in or near a unique piece of architecture, then that's better than the alternative.

Oh also, I apologies for double replying, but I really don't like the idea it's German vs Japanese.

Since I was in Trier after Christmas, and learnt they have the oldest university in Germany, except for all the times it didn't exist. It's not claimed "Trier had the first university in Germany", but "Trier has the oldest university in Germany".

Others dispute this claim, since they want the claim for the university their heart inclines towards, but Germans - surely a species of Westerner - are still capable of entertaining and uttering such claims of continuity-through-discontinuity.

If Notre Dame had been raised to the ground by the fire and then rebuilt then the answer is yes, that would have been considered a new building. Downtown Warsaw and the “old” Dresden are also comprised of new buildings which have been made to look the same as those that were demolished during WW2.

I cannot say anything about Warsaw. I was never there.

I can add to Dresden and Nuremberg. Both of them where nearly destroyed and rebuild. But the rebuild is not an exact rebuild. It is new and modern buildings.

But there are exceptions like the Frauenkirche in Dresden and alike buildings here in Nuremberg. They are almost exactly rebuild in the name of conserving heritage. Yes, they are also rebuild or even retrofitted with new things like electric and plumbing. But that doesn't mean they are new buildings.

Does Warsaw and Dresden continue? Or are they new cities, since their buildings were destroyed?

As you said, their building were destroyed, not the cities themselves. The cities were damaged and restored, just like a classic car.

I think the GP made a great point but missed a key detail -

This attitude is reflected in their homes, also. (I'm talking about sub-urban or rural, not metropolitan) They tend to build their homes to last around 20-30 years, then they'll knock them down and rebuild them. But they would still refer to it as the same family home for [x] decades.

source: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/nov/16/japan-reusabl...

I believe the Dom in Cologne was finished and is now being maintained by a staff of more than 100 stone masons etc... so many parts of it have been replaced over the years. I always found it fascinating to see how shining and light the restored parts looks compared to the black surface of the older parts. I quite like the dark surface, it gives the building a brooding power that I love. It’s my favorite church, but I am inescapably biased as I was born in Cologne.

It is also one of my favorite cathedrals, though perhaps you can tell me: why is there a labyrinth on the floor of the stairs leading to the crypt? The labyrinth in Chartes is larger and more famous, but the one on Cologne doesn't call much attention to itself, in a cathedral which dominates the city.

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