RESTORATIONS

 

Humayuns Tomb Delhi

Restoration is an exercise to recreate a situation as close to its ‘original condition’. The original condition is evidenced by various types of records. Restoring means re-establishing or resurrecting a value, concept or a condition that is lost, diminished or diluted, due to natural processes like decay, circumstantial causes, forgetfulness, malicious or beneficial changes. Restoration is done to all types of assets where there is some inherent worth or will gain it post restoration. Buildings, artefacts, paintings, streets and towns are restored. At places terrains and other natural assets are restored.

 

Buildings are restored with many different concepts. Society values a building for many different reasons:

 

●         as a functional entity,

●         for its association with a past event,

●         for its value as an entity of architecture or arts,

●         as an outstanding specimen of crafts or a technological accomplishment of an era that has passed away,

●         as an ideally fitting and irremovable part in a whole (a house in a street of nearly similar houses).

Society wishes to preserve such milestones but in a state that will make them last as long as possible. Society also wishes to preserve buildings and artefacts in distinguished conditions that later generations can admire it and be inspired to preserve them further.

Buildings are restored to their original stability, functionality and sensuality. ‘Retrofitting’, reinforcing and ‘stress relief’ measures help depleted buildings to survive greater or different loading stresses and for longer periods. New functions are bestowed to not only old and used but new and unused buildings. Functional restorations are made primarily for economic viability, and secondarily for validating it in the changing circumstances and surroundings. Buildings are restored to reestablish the sensual aspects lost due to decadence, endow new sensual values to match the current trends in the society or neighbourhood, or even remove the sensual characteristics that have become abhorrent in the new social or political setup.

Buildings being restored to endow new trends or styles do not pose many problems, but restorations tracing back the history are very difficult. For old buildings very few records are available to show the sequence of occurrence and extent of various changes. What one gets is an interpolated image through several layers of changes.

A building as it stands, represents a product of not only its originator’s perceptions and accumulated effects of changes like alterations, extensions, additions, restorations etc., but also losses, dilapidation, demolitions, etc. over the years. Many of these changes were planned and benign, but there are many changes that were malicious or unintentional (natural calamities).

It is always accepted that, a true and absolute restoration is never possible. A restoration is an approximation. It is based on the perception of the restorer or the sense prevalent in the society at that point of time. It is not possible to restore buildings to the original condition, a particular situation or any specific time frame perception, but, to what the user (or the designer or, restorer) conceptualizes. Restoration as an exercise is likely to be based on generalizations, ignorance, insincerity, wrong decisions, lack of resources, time constraints, etc.

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