THE PRESERVATION OF
MONUMENTS AND HISTORIC
TOWNSCAPES IN THE'
The environment as organised by human agency is largely determined by social,
economic and cultural factors acting upon the natural environment. These factors
are characterised mainly by a lack of harmony and continuity, while the man-made
environment which results is marked by a considerable degree of stability. This is
because changes can only be brought about through the expenditure ofmuch effort;
Something must actually be demolished before any new building can take place.
In the past, the use of land both for building and for farming produced, in the
main, harmonious results in spite of constant change; the pictures we have of the
past are nearly all characterised by balance in form and atmosphere. Even that 'ofthe
late nineteenth century, which absorbed many new elements, such as tramways and
railways, new industries and 'extensive housing construction outside the limits of the
old fortified towns, displays considerable harmony. Changes to the existing pattern
resulted in a new balanced whole. Rarely was anything left once the new had
replaced or been woven into the old; there remained few isolated fragments of old
b~ildings or public works. No general protection of areas for the preservation of
hIstoric buildings was yet necessary; for the time being, all that was required was to
take some care, particularly with regard to buildings which obviously merited such
attention by reason of their age and architectural interest.
The last few decades, however, have seen radical changes in social, economic and
CUltural patterns in Dutch society. The ever increasing mobility ofpeople and goods
and the far-reaching exchange of opinions, ideas and codes of conduct have been of
decisive significance. Stimuli for change in the man-made environment, which were
formerly felt at comparatively regular intervals, have begun to come thicker and
fa.ster. The seemingly stable fabric lacked the ability to absorb the new and stronger
stImUli, so that the existing state of harmony has been disturbed ever more
frequently. The disharmony which now confronts us is unique in the unbroken
sequence of man-made environments which, in most of the Netherlands, goes back
~o the Carolingian period. As a result, the natural fabric ofthe environment has been
Irreparably damaged in many places.
Along with this development, there has emerged as a reaction a call for statutory
provisions which will examine processes in society to determine their influence on
the environment, both separately and cumulatively. Physical planning originates as
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