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50. July-Septembre 16
Quarterly Newsletter of the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia

Road and transport landscape. Intangible heritage of industrial society

Jaume Perarnau i Llorens
Director of the National Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia (mNACTEC)

Heritage thought, created and used by industrial society was to become full, towards the end of the twentieth century in an identity reference. This in respect of contemporary society, together with heritage and the landscape that gives shelter and is mutually conditioned and determined. In addition to rapid and major technological and economic changes taking place over a few years in our own society, extraordinary social changes and advances in politics, thought, customs, forms of work organization and production, have also come about. There is at the same time, a special awareness of a world and a landscape that ends and disappears at the turn of the century. Along with the new concept of socialization heritage, landscape and territory are preserved and still maintain important elements, shapes, infrastructure and paths which, as elements of the growth in transport and communications have kept the brand alive in the territory and the nearest landscape.

The National Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia (mNACTEC), understanding that their scope of work should not be limited solely to the articles that make up their collections, and having already included for several years property features in the whole industrial heritage, proposes a new step forward. Thus, in this way, it initiates and defines new major areas of work, research, protection and dissemination within the project called "Un museo en la calle. Una calle en un museo."

Among these new major areas of work that the mNACTEC proposes is the landscaping of roads, communications and transportation as features of particular importance and heritage protection. At the same time it is seen as a prominent feature of identification, evolution and collective social bonding. The heritage landscape of ancient roads and modes of transport in industrial society which have been created and used is essentially part of contemporary society itself. These are some factors and some assets which encompass and preserve recollection, memory ability, experiencing, know-how, experience, the brand, a way of life, a legacy of usage integrated into the geographical and territorial landscape of a community bounded in time and space.

To Identify, document, study, geographically reference, to value or preserve, if necessary, the ancient courses of roads, the landscape shaping trees and constructive features that accompany and define them. These inlude, paths, old advertising signs, assets , caretaker booths on roads, customs, safety fencing, signage, pylons, infrastructure, services, old gas stations, workshops, hostels, inns and hostels. Moreover, the evolution of pavements and the plots themselves, the urban transformation of towns and cities due to the passage of roads, historical and heritage roads, ways of moving and "living on the road", etc. This is the purpose of part of this broad and immence project, as is already being done elsewhere in Europe.

The project proposed by mNACTEC, in collaboration with the Landscape Observatory, which will begin this autumn 2016, proposes and aims to identify and put a value on a comprehensive, compact, interdisciplinary and diverse kind of heritage that forms a unique identifier, social landscape and visual context of special relevance and interest.

The roads, streets and landscapes of the country are a large exhibition hall of our immediate social heritage, linked to this industrial society in the process of transformation and practical disappearance. Because our streets and our loci of relationship and social confluence are, like the landscape of roads and transport were. They are, by themselves, a museum. We must learn how to look at each of these, slowly, patiently and carefully with a desire to gain knowledge and discover, as they are a form of knowledge and cultural wealth. 21st (XX1) century museums should be the great avenues of knowledge for the whole of society, a friendly, understandable, cheerful and available resource to the majority. A new avenue that shall be the foundation of the proposed new reading and interpretation of heritage and common landscape with rigor and without nostalgia.  This project, which we began as we wished to finish, so wants to be properly finalized.

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