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'We shall soon have the newest ancient heritage in the world': The Rise of the Sham Replica under Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and its Implications for Russia's Architectural Heritage

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Abstract

This article seeks to show how reconstruction and the creation of 'sham replicas' have become the normal approach to treating historic buildings in Russia. A sham replica is the near-total demolition of a historic building and the re-creation of something approximating the original but with new proportions, using modern construction methods and incorporating modern features, such as underground car parks. Former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov presided over the establishment of this practice, which became the catalyst for an escalating scale of abuse of the historic environment and is increasingly reflected in towns and cities across Russia. The practice has established itself in post-Soviet Russia thanks to a particular set of economic and political circumstances. The study demonstrates that Luzhkov's approach stems from practices that were already present in Russia and the Soviet Union, and are also connected to a growing international acceptance of reconstructions. The preservation movement in Russia is vigorously protesting against such treatment of historic buildings, and although at present unlikely, it is possible that the practice will be discredited in the future.

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... Architectural authenticity is a subject recently raised by Clementine Cecil in her account of the rise of the sham replica in Moscow. 28 However, it is with interest that Adam draws our attention to The Donation of Constantine, a key historical forgery, the construction of which may itself be considered an important and illuminating historical event: 'This is history, not false or pseudo-history, and is historically informative'. 29 The French experience of historic urban landscape management is outlined by heritage conservation architect and town planner Daniel Duché. ...
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