HERITAGE AT RISK IN BRAZIL: WHAT LESSONS CAN WE LEARN FROM THE REGENERATION OF ROYAL ARSENAL, EAST LONDON?
Keywords: Conservation, planning, adaptive reuse, documentation
Abstract. All over the world, historic building in city centres are being demolished to give way to new (and taller) developments. In most cases, there isn’t even any kind of documentation of the historic buildings before its demolition. This is a very usual phenomenon in Brazil, where building conservation is a recent subject and only a few architectural styles are considered heritage. This leaves a great number of buildings under no kind of protection, especially in smaller and non-touristic communities. These buildings are usually located in city centres, where taller (and more profitable) developments are encouraged, which puts heritage in even a higher risk of demolition. When historic city centres are regenerated, it usually results in gentrification, with the old housing being replaced by restaurants and shops for tourists. In the UK, in the other hand, heritage conservation has been discussed for many decades, resulting on a good number of heritage-led regeneration examples to be followed. Investments in the conservation of areas of historical interest have turned them into social, cultural and economic benefits. A big difference between the conservation practice in Brazil and in the UK is that in the last one and specially in London, where the demand for new homes grows every year, heritage buildings are usually converted into residential use. Besides, a much greater number of buildings are considered heritage since it's been agreed that the value of a building or an area should be attributed by the community that created it. During the process of adaptive reuse of the building, a accurate survey os required for the planning application, which helps documenting these buildings for future intervention. This paper analyses the regeneration process of Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, in East London and aims to demonstrate why Britain gets to develop and preserve at the same time while in Brazil we usually can only do one or the other. To get to this result, this paper will point out the main differences between the conservation and planning processes in both countries.