Tuesday, July 29, 2014


by Gautam Shah ➔ 

Sistine Chapel Art restoration
Buildings are affected by time, environment and human use. The buildings become increasingly inefficient and irrelevant with time. The environmental processes continue to change the fabric of the buildings. The human use, miss use and non-use, all reflects in the decline of the building. To terminate or arrest (decelerate) the affectations in buildings, several process of change are required.
The change-processes cannot revert a building to its original condition. The building loses its site related relevance and time related functionality over a period of time. This has vast context, and it is a long term cumulative change. It is not possible to re-establish a building, because 1. One cannot regress a building to a past state in isolation of its referential conditions, 2. Buildings are continuously altered nominally and intentionally, but the extent of such alterations not clearly layered or recorded, 3. The materials and technologies may not be available. 4. In most of the cases the value identity is metaphysical.

Restoration is reinstatement of a previous condition. A building or work of art consists of distinct components, some of which may have been created, included or changed at different times, or have been affected variously. Such changes, even if intentional are rarely sequential in time and space, or properly recorded. The evidence of previous condition is largely conjectural.
From ancient times down to the first quarter of the present century, restorations have always followed the sponsor’s needs and restorer’s wisdom. Restorations have meant all nature changes, such as renovations, alterations, reformations, additions, and extensions, but rarely ‘reinstatement of a previous condition’. ‘Restorations’ (that is all type of change) have been carried out by masters such as the professional artists, sculptors and builders and street level roving crafts persons. The nature of ‘change’ interventions depended on the skills of the master. Such changes were primarily intended to put building (or work of art-craft)to a better condition. It also meant ‘improvising or adapting a style or confirming to a contemporary taste’. Changes have moulded the entity into grandiose, to brand their capacity rather then any respect for the past. The restorer, Michelangelo or some crafts-person fashioned it into more elaborate. 
During Romanesque and Renaissance periods classical antiquity was regarded as something to be appreciated, but that was for the final result, not as a process. Medieval builders treated the works of antiquity as something to be extended. Abandoning substantial size of work meant creating equally large or better structure which would take more then a lifetime. Restoration was resurrecting a building with ‘change’. Gothic cathedrals were planned, started and on the way re-changed several times with the inclusion of the style of the day. Such a complex entity cannot be identified to a particular or ‘original character’.

With every change exercise, something of the original character was irretrievably lost. Too many such exercises ultimately diluted the original character of the building. Buildings are restored for their partial identities, like values, utilitarian aspects, sensuality, materials, technology, architectural character, spatial qualities, style, patterns, scale or proportions, antiquity. Partial restorations are comparatively easy as the retained identities seem to provide a link between the past and the present.
heatre of Marcellus
  • Theatre of Marcellus (Italian: Teatro di Marcello) in Rome, Italy, is a classic example of a building that has been changed by several owners over more then 2000 years. Site space for the theatre was cleared by Julius Caesar, but could not begin it. It was formally inaugurated in 12 BC. The theatre fell into disuse by 4th C and debris was used in other projects such as the bridge of Cestius. Statues, however, were restored by Petronius Maximus in 421 AD, and the remaining structure housed small residential buildings. During the 11th and 12th C AD it was converted into a fortress by the Pierleone family. In 1368 AD the Savelli family took it over, and in 1519 AD employed Baldassare Peruzzi to design a new building (palazzo) incorporating the ancient ruins. Further alterations were made in 1712 AD by the Orsini family and the building is now known as the Palazzo Orsini. The upper portion is now divided into multiple apartments, and its surroundings are used as a venue for small summer concerts.
Theatre of Marcellus -old sketch 

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