In the future, everything will be significant for 15 minutes

As the great American artists; Andy Warhol stated in 1968; in the future, everybody will be famous for 15 minutes; I started thinking that the same applies to cultural built heritage i.e. that the buildings and structures that we regard as ordinary run of the mill stuff today, will eventually find themselves onto heritage registers in the future and certainly, structures and buildings that were regarded as ordinary run of the mill stuff 100 years ago, is already listed on heritage registers.Figure 1

When I started off in the heritage sector in the mid-1980s as a heritage consultant, you would have been hard pressed to convince me that Brutalist buildings would one day become heritage significant, yet it is now happening and so it must.

Heritage significance is a moving feast – it moves with the times. It gathers more and more in its stead as the years go by and incidentally, sheds even more as wanton and unintended demolition thins the stock of available heritage buildings for listing.

Look what is happening in Sydney right now. While Westconnex demolishes late Victorian and Federation buildings to make way for roads, Brutalist buildings are getting listed on heritage registers or at least, there are ardent attempts to get them registered. The one adds and the other subtracts. Such is the nature of heritage significance and from this point of view, I could not help being reminded of Warhol’s prescient vision for the future albeit that he was thinking of fame in the entertainment industry and I am thinking of significance in the heritage industry.

Paul Rappoport – Heritage 21 – 26 May 2017



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