As natural catastrophes alter the environment, historical towns and other sites of heritage significance are at risk of being damaged, if not disrupted altogether. How should we confront the prospect of these disasters? And how are we to cope with the reconstructions that will be needed as these phenomena occur?
In this paper, I explore philosophical tools for thinking more deeply about the choices surrounding heritage conservation. Recent work in environmental psychology has investigated people’s emotional bond to places and how changes in a place’s structure may pose a threat to individual and social cohesion. Similarly, everyday aestheticians emphasize the role played by quotidian intercourse, relationship, and attachment for the ascription of aesthetic qualities to a site and the environment.
Drawing on these researches, I argue that strategies for a sustainable reconstruction must consider the affected community of people, and then the affected artefacts. The leading question is thus whether reconstructions are able to keep the values alive for the people for whom the site is perceived as significant.