2 de septiembre de 2012

Bad praxis in restoration

As in dozens of offices of any kind, good performances are always clouded by the "bad praxis", whether done by certain people, certain entities... real extravagance without any rigor, neither technical nor historical, dotting each point in our territory.
Hidden are the intentions for which you choose to go the easy way, whether for economic, political or aesthetic, but the reality is that it acts without stopping to think about the consequences of our actions on the assets.

The subject I want to talk in these lines is the question of bad restorations, actions already taken or still in progress, in which predominates the reasons set out above any historical and heritage rigor.

What do we mean by bad restoration? That does not respect the traditional value of the work, which it is made with materials that drastically alter the image that the item had before the restoration ... that is, the intervention that deprives the identity of the restored element.
As with any work, whether architectural, sculptural or pictorial, always is provided that any intervention is to go completely unnoticed, using the same materials, the same techniques ... and if it is not possible, it does everything "added" neither stands nor distorts the original.

We can make a long list of works which, for various reasons, can be dismissed as bad restorations, such as the Roman Theatre of Sagunto in Valencia (Spain), restored in 1985, in which it was rebuilt again the stands, the scene… Authors understand it as a new work, due to be a dilapidated building. This action has led to legal battles between political parties, between administrations... and in January in 2008, the Supreme Court orders that the restoration must be demolished and the Theater must stay in their dilapidated original state.

Another less known example is the “Heraklea Minoa” Roman Theatre in Sicily (Italy), where it was placed a plastic sheet in the stands so that attendees could sit, but due to the climate of the place it began to emerge vegetation under the plastic, including roots destroying parts of it. It was ordered to remove the plastic.

As these examples there are hundreds, at all points of geography, but I want to address, in concrete, one of the buildings in the town where I live.
This is the “Blacksmith Building” of Torrejón de Ardoz in Madrid (Spain), an example of civil architecture with an important historical value as well as ethnographic values ​​shared with other emblematic buildings of the city (fortunately still standing) as the church of San Juan Evangelista (which was built in the sixteenth century and later expanded to its present appearance in the year 1784) and the “Casa Grande” (in the XVI century).

The team of the local government sought to retain the facade of the building and rehabilitate the interior with a new construction, but due to the continuing state of neglect it has suffered for decades and the original walls of adobe, the facades that kept propped, finally they collapse. In addition, we must add the destruction of the attached housing (in traditional Spanish style).

Now it is trying to build a replica of how it was, a "historical false" (a fake, to restore imitating the original state) with modern materials, with metal structure with brick... What strikes the attention of the play is that they are selling it, as seen in the sign of work by the motto "The city recovers a landmark building to preserve and safeguard the assets of Torrejón".

Ladies and gentlemen, let's talk clearly. On one side, they are agreeing in abandoned entirely a landmark building of more than 3 centuries old. After, they consent to "fall" it due to a poor execution. And finally, they try to recreate, in bad ways, the state that once it had and try to sell it as the greatest achievement made in the rehabilitation of buildings, but... How will they preserve and protect the heritage of Torrejón a building that does NOT belong to the heritage, because it is a "historical false"?

I honestly think that, like many local citizens, it is a "suspect" demolition, because everyone knows that the underground water layer of the city is very shallow because of the proximity of the river Henares, and to shore up some adobe walls of 300 year old lead behind a comprehensive study, or not carried out or was not as comprehensive as it should.

The case is that it has lost an important building in the town that, for many recoveries that local authorities want to do, we will not enjoy it never.

The question to ask is: How could we suppress the bad restorations? I advocate an increase in subsidies at both county and state, the main reason for lost buildings and assets.

Not offer grants or subsequently derives a total abandonment of the elements to keep, such as updates on the new slides in the ruins of Pompeii (Italy), in particular the above case of the “Blacksmith Building” in my city.

What really must be avoided is that the building reaches a precarious state and that is called "maintenance". Small and specific economic actions saved the fate they undergo dozens of abandoned buildings: the ruin and future collapse.

A true and a transparent public money policy would do that the abandoned buildings recover its position on new construction, change of use to promote the recovery benefit as giving the building use (identical or different), it will be maintained and preserved for the benefit of future generations.

The problem is that more and more private entities offer and take charge of the restoration work of heritage buildings, always opting for hotel use, hostels... instead of creating identity museums (museums about the town), social centers or uses that really are needed, rather than a hospice in a village with 20 inhabitants.

According to the latter, we have in mind the current proposal of the Rome City Town and the Italian Ministry about the restoring of the Anfitreatro Flavio (the Colosseum), by which it seeks to achieve the 25 million of euros are needed for its reconstruction and the adequacy of the surrounding by private entities, in exchange for that investment, would have a space to promote their image (as in the current soccer fields, where it is located in the field displays a row of sponsors).

But ... how much is needed today to rebuild the Coliseum or other debris?
That debate will be the subject of other lines.

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