Examining Europe's Attraction to Historical Pastiche
O’Sullivan describes protests in Skopje against plans to clad a 1970s shopping mall in neoclassical colonnades and domes, controversial plans to rebuild Berlin's baroque City Palace, and several other projects that mirror debates taking place throughout the continent over "appropriating public space to construct ersatz historical monuments".
"So why is Europe currently so keen on playing historical dress-up?" he asks. "Widespread suspicion of contemporary architecture is partly responsible, though successful projects such as as I.M Pei’s Louvre Pyramid and Norman Foster’s Reichstag dome show that skillful modern insertions into historical sites can meet public approval. A sense of unease about Europe’s present is also at play. With faith in the European project’s future at low ebb, conservative governments are turning backwards to their nations’ pasts, even if all these buildings sometimes offer is big box shopping with imperial trimmings."