RESTORATION EXERCISES

Post 544  by Gautam Shah

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Buildings are restored to retain and perpetuate select identities. The selection is a subjective process of a person, society or the political power (including invader or conqueror). The concept of restoration is comparatively easy as the retained identities seem to provide a link between the past and the present, whereas things that are ignored or removed, make the exercise easier, simpler and justifiable. The select identities are like values, utilitarian aspects, sensorial qualities, materials, technology, architectural character, spatial qualities, style, patterns, scale or proportions, antiquity, social-political-religious confirmation.

An early photograph of Stonehenge taken July 1877 Wikipedia image by Author Philip Rupert Acott

Pic from same position in 2008 showing the extent of reconstruction Wikipedia image by Author Mavratti

Buildings as affected by age, environment and human use become increasingly inefficient, irrelevant and unsafe. 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 the affectations, several processes of change are required. Externally, the purposes with which a building was erected need a live sponsorship and continued participation of the society. The buildings’ location needs corroboration from its surrounding, which can be had through macro planning or re-validation of the functions. Internally a building is a visit-able entity or just relic, for both cases it should be stable and safe.

Partly-restored windows facing Pitched Stone Court, Raglan Castle in Monmouthshire Wikipedia image by Author Andy F

A restoration, cannot revert a building to its original condition. As there is no original condition of a building. What we perceive to day is an entwined mass of effects of age, environment and human use. Changes occur in time, and spatially across the fabric of the building. Buildings are nominally as well as intentionally altered, but these changes are never recorded. The evidence of previous conditions in absence of records is largely conjectural. A true restoration must faithfully use the original materials and technologies which however are unlikely to be available. The building loses its site related relevance and time related functionality over a period of time. One, cannot regress a building to a past state in isolation of its referential conditions.

Marcellus theater Rome

Theater of Marcellus Rome backside reconstruction

Medieval builders treated the works of antiquity as something to be extended. They knew that abandoning a well sited and a large sized building is a wastage of time. A large new building would take several generations, political stability and long period free of catastrophes and disasters. Restoration meant resurrecting a building in the shortest possible time, with an image or style of the time. Yet during resurrective restoration, there were several ‘corrections’, to suit the socio-political-financial conditions. Such a complex entity cannot have a particular or ‘original character’.

Serbian monastery Gracanica Wikipedia image by Author Bujar I Gashi

From ancient times to first part of present century, restorations have always followed the sponsor’s wishes and restorer’s wisdom. Restorations have meant all types of changes, such as renovations, alterations, reformations, additions, and extensions, but rarely the ‘reinstatement of a previous condition’. ‘Restorations’ 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 upgrade the building to a better condition. It also meant ‘improvising or adapting a style or confirming to a contemporary taste’. Restorative changes have been carried out by experts to brand their capacity rather then any respect for the past. Restorers like Michelangelo, saw a building as a raw material and opportunity to organize it. Classical structures during Romanesque and Renaissance periods were as regarded pieces of admirable antiquity. Yet these were restored by retaining, enhancing and adding the perceived values, but ‘without any concern for the process or investigations’.

1 Ishtar-gate-بوابة-عشتار

Ishtar_Gate_at_Berlin_Museum

Reconstruction of Tito’s Palace in Mostar. Part of film depicting several buildings and structures that have been damaged during the Bosnian War, wikipedia image

A restoration destroys something of the original character. It is irretrievably lost. The character of the building gets lost with too many restorations. Restorations without harming the substrate or basic fabric preserve them in their original condition. But, that does not mean a restoration allows one to mount a skin or a make-believe screen, to camouflage the original. Conservation is very restrictive process, but restoration could be conservative and preserving in nature.

restoration .jpg

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INTERVENTIVE CONSERVATION

Post 531  by Gautam Shah

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Conservation is a practice of continuing the present condition of an object. The present condition of the object, like artwork, artefact or a building, is due to natural influences and human machinations. The formation of the object as it exists today is an interpolation of many changes. The changes are so conflated that it is almost impossible to trace them spatially or temporally. Objects to be conserved are often so old that appropriate records are not available to define its conditions at different periods. Conservationists have to operate on layered past with multiple depths of affectations. And one may not know whether these were due to natural influences and human machinations.

Coventry Cathedral ruins Wikipedia image by Andrew Walker (User:Walker44)

Ideal conservation starts as a preventive practice to minimize further damage or deterioration. It means some influences must be terminated, reduced for their extent and intensity, or isolated as representative sample. Such exercises have undeclared motive to shift towards the original condition, which to begin with is an unknown or uncertain concept. Conservation work begins at two levels: the environment and the object. The environment can be modified by creating envelope or shield where the object is finite and can fit into shielding structure. Environment can be altered by macro-spatial intervention, such as effects of winds, rains, moisture, solar radiation, etc. Human presence affects an object, and may be controlled by barriers or spatial distancing.

Imprisonment buildings at Auschwitz Poland Wikipedia-Flickr image by Paul Arps

Conservation is interventions of some nature. Intervention is nominally intended to make things better, but conservation as a concept goes against it. Conservation is the care provided to improve a situation to relieve likely deterioration or damage. But as precursor to such interventive actions, one needs to predict, if this will at all yield a result. Interventions must remain retrievable or retractable. Actions that remove the cause of damage are preferred, than the removal of a layer of bye-product or past failures of interventive actions. Removal of such layers, may be necessary when these obscure or obliterate the identity of the object or its important segments.

Furniture interventive conservation Wikipedia image by Author Etan J. Tal

Interventive conservation often precedes the preservative conservation, or it is part of it. Interventions are inevitable where the object or the building cannot survive or stay in equilibrium. Temporary interventions such as supports or scaffolding disturb the perception of the object or use of the structure. Similarly interventions that generate make-believe or pseudo effects are not considered ethical. Interventive Conservation in spite of it being a circumspect action may turn out to be an act of restoration.

Buddha during conservation – restoration by Dr. Faltermeier Wikipedia image by Author Faltermeier

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CONTINUANCE of BUILDINGS

CONTINUANCE of BUILDINGS

Post 401 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 

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Carson Pirie Scott Building S street entrance

Buildings are continued primarily by changing the functions they serve, secondly by redefining the form, and in rare cases, if possible, by altering the surroundings. Many corrective actions are necessary to use the building for a different purpose. Redefining the form of a building is even more difficult as it expected to satisfy simultaneously the functional needs and the value system in the society. In the first instance, if the owner finds the corrective actions uneconomic, would rather opt for a new entity. In the later case, the changes in the form may make the society apathetic to the building’s revised ‘look’. The alteration of form may turn out to be costlier than a comparative new entity. The preservation of surroundings of buildings requires social, political and financial involvement, beyond the reach of an owner or user. It is only for buildings intensively serving social functions or buildings with historical connections that surroundings will be conserved or even rejuvenated.

Restoration of Qilou buildings in Bo’ai Road area, Haikou, Hainan, China

Buildings are continued by Restorative as well as Enabling interventions. Repairs and maintenance schedules can restore parts, components and systems, provided the design is ‘open-ended’. However, holistic creations or ‘close-ended’ entities deteriorate completely without any scope for corrective measures. Enabling interventions add local capacities, or mediate by adjusting the existing capacities. Changes in the surroundings force functional changes in the building, however, whether one makes the changes to be with surroundings or resists, both ways the building gets altered.

Carson Pirie Scott and Company Building

Carson Pirie Scott and Company Building

Carson,_Pirie,_Scott_and_Company_Building_1_South_State_Street_from_north

Carson Pirie Scott and Company Building

Young buildings seem invincible. Original intentions are still valid and surroundings relevant, and so continuance of the building is an irrelevant thought. No changes, of the function or form, are required. Enabling interventions such as maintenance helps a building continue with a predictable and consistent pace. Such restorative efforts sustain the form and nurture the functions. New buildings have overcapacity risk margins. The parts and components are able to share the additional loads or risks posed by neighbouring constituents. So in early stages of buildings’ life no major replacements are required. New buildings do not need immediate changes unless the programme for it has been faulty, or it coincides with major changes in the political, social or economics fields. Changes in the early phase can be easily made, because original designer, documents, components and systems, all are available. At this point the building is structurally fit for habitation.

Older buildings need substantial retrospection of their functions, due to changes in ownership, reassessment of efficiency, styling and context. As the buildings age, the nominal surface related changes go deeper into the body of structure. Such changes are not easily perceptible, and can grow to very dangerous level. This is a stage when original design documents are not available. The new technology components and systems may not match the existing provisions.

Humayun’s Tomb Delhi 1858

Humayun’s Tomb Delhi Now

All changes, whether these are improvisations, preventive corrections, sufficiency provisions, or resurrectional actions; of minor, imperceptible, innocent, non-invasive or just touching nature, ultimately add up to completely reformat the original form. These reformations are in addition to the parallel altering process of nature.

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PERMANENCE OF BUILDINGS

PERMANENCE OF BUILDINGS

Post 400 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 

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A building is a major asset. A dwelling owner wants it to last for own life and perhaps for the next generation. A ruler wants the building to be entity perpetuating the dynasty. Public buildings are deified as ever lasting monuments. Permanence of buildings is both physical and metaphoric. At physical level, the reality impinges in terms of the building’s form, stability sustainability, functionality, etc. At metaphoric level the building has an image formed of social relevance, architectural character, and novelty. The image of a building has different associations to various sections of the society.

Connaught Place New Delhi India

A building that has an architectural style is continued as a relic. When it has commemorative connections, as mark of an era, achievement or an event it becomes a memorial. Few structures are created for non-utilitarian purposes as monuments. Buildings that valued and need to be remembered, are restored or conserved to retain their form, but often in complete absence of the original setting. A building that has substantially lost the form and has indistinct circumstantial connections are re-enacted through re-imaging of its setting, like through Sound & light (son et Lumière) shows on historical sites.

Persepolis Iran

A Builder recognizes the building for its stability or equilibrium. In this pursuit the builder unless restrained by the economics will overdo the job by making the building extra strong (safe). In rural areas where the user is the designer and the builder, permanence resides in the personal ability to maintain and upgrade the building. For such self-builders structure is permanent so long it can be reconditioned from personal or local resources. In nomadic or intensively migrant societies, the dwellings are light and transportable, yet the selection of form and the materials, reflect their quest for permanence.

Taos Pueblo -self built structures -ability to maintain and upgrade the building

Virupaksha temple gopura from Hemakuta hill India stepped pyramid for stability and permanence

A User perceives permanence in terms of buildings’ capacity to accommodate the changes effortlessly through the passage of time.

A Designer distinguishes a new building for specific set of functions only. Architects very rarely design buildings for reuse or adoptive functions.

A lay-person perceivesmonumental buildings’ to be of time-tested or mature technology and durable, whereas, fragile buildings (though fairly stable and functionally adequate) are of a newer or untested technology and so temporary.

Exterior -Hindola Mahal Mandu India Tapered form for stability

Interior -Hindola Mahal Mandu India

Substantial judgements on permanence of a building rest on its capacity to serve the functions and also to adopt new functions. Companies maintain the firm’s headquarters in the original building, by substantially altering the interiors, and by conserving the exterior. Where in spite of exercises of continuity, the building often remains a symbolic entity.

Older buildings in good localities with high social, political and an economics profile, with strong architectural character or ‘branded form’ are reinforced with retro fitting technologies. Often the compulsion derives from local authority’s conditions of development.

buildings and architecture of Bath, a city in Somerset in the south west of England Conservation.

It is nearly impossible for an individual owner to enforce conservation of the surroundings. The social, political and financial involvement, is beyond the reach of an owner or user. However, public buildings such as of public utility, serving social functions, or of society’s pride and prestige may have its surroundings well maintained or even resurrected.

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REPAIRS to BUILDINGS

Post 191 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 

Building Repairs

Repairs to a building mean, to mend, to restore, to revitalize, restoration after injury or decay, reinstatement of loss. Repairs are corrective actions compared, to maintenance, which are preventive in nature.

Kolkata India

Kolkata India

Buildings with adequate or timely maintenance require lesser repairs in extent and frequency. Efficient maintenance is not possible in un-repaired or poorly repaired buildings. Minor or localized repairs are not noticeable, but major and extensive repairs renovate a building. Similarly frequently or extensively repaired buildings get completely altered.

Repairs, in most cases are based on compulsions and convenience. Repairs are series of ad-hoc and non related compromises between the immediate physical needs of the building and the availability of finance. Repairs are often carried out as a sequel to the maintenance work. Buildings present a decayed look, when repairs and maintenance are infrequent or inadequate.

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Building as a system is an assembly with varying level of integrity. In building many components are replaceable, while others, though replaceable, may disturb the equilibrium of the shell and have catastrophic consequences. Repairs are made to replace parts of sub-components. Buildings designed as ‘open end systems’ are easier to repair, compared to ‘closed ended systems’ or very ‘tightly’ designed entities. For repairs it is necessary to procure parts and components from open market or original system suppliers. In the first instance, the parts have to be very basic and universal to persist for several generations, whereas in the second case the original supplier, invariably a proprietary entity, has no commercial interest to meet a demand as long as a building last.

Question of Repairs or replacement

Question of Repairs or replacement

Repairs require materials and techniques used in the original creations. Repairs which usually occur very much later are done with equivalent materials and techniques. These later materials not only function, but age differently.

In case of historical buildings, the repairs are required more for correction of deterioration caused by forces of nature, rather over-use of the premises. Repairs in historical buildings are done as a strategy of conservation, carefully preserving and continuing the original character.

Self Help repairs

Self Help repairs

Buildings are repaired, if only there is place validity of its purpose and a time relevance of its life. The repairs depend on the location and purpose and quality of the shell or structure. Buildings where quality of space determines the efficiency of work activities, and which in turn scales the economic returns, are well repaired. But as soon as the work-activities become dysfunctional or economic returns taper off, a decision has to be taken whether to demolish the building and replace it with new one, or to maintain it through repairs. Sentimental values associated with buildings also determine the scale of repairs.

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LIME-WASH

Lime or Whitewash is one of the oldest and cheapest methods of coating exterior and interior surfaces. It is created from Slacked Lime. Slack Lime has good opacity and so covering property.

Santorini Cyclades GreeceLime stones (CaCO3), are heated to temperature (above 825 °C) to form Quick Lime (CaO) which is then quenched by adding water to form Calcium Hydroxide (slaked lime-CaOH2). Lime bearing materials are lime-stones, marbles, chalk, sea shells.

Lime_Kiln,_de_la_Ray,_R315_to_Yzerfontein,_West_Coast._One_of_only_two_remaining_in_South_Africa._Built_in_the_1940s_by_Mr_B._Killa._03

A lime-wash of slaked lime or CaOH2, on evaporation of water has very little binding property. A lime wash for first fortnight has almost no strength, however, over few days of atmospheric exposure it begins to absorb CO2 from air and converts itself to CaCO3 – a reaction called carbonation.

640px-Rural_kutcha_village

A white wash retains 85 % of its original reflectivity for consecutive 120 to 180 non rainfall days. However, the operative life may stretch more than one monsoon season on exteriors and possibly two or more monsoon seasons in the interiors.

628px-Pamukkale_reflectionA hydrated Lime often contains impurities like magnesium carbonate, calcium sulphate, chalk. The quenching or mixing water may also contain soluble salts and sediments. Both the types of impurities increase the chances of flaking (poor surface adhesion). To improve the adhesion materials like Casein (a milk protein), gums, glues, cooked starches, molasses, sugar, alum, common salt, oils, tallow, fats have been used. In modern age polymers (emulsions) are added. All these old and new additives supposedly improve the adhesion in the shorter run. These substances invariably hamper re-coating after ageing.

Additives to Lime Wash may provide little more water repellence but they always reduce the process of carbonation of the material, resulting in chalking on the surface. For extra brightness ultramarine blue colour is added, and for other colour alkali resistant pigments like iron oxides are used. If the pigment additive is not alkali resistant, it will get faded out.

Colors Blue Street The Walls Of The Morocco

A Lime wash is considered air purifying treatment. It removes stench and rancidity of the enclosed spaces. American barns were regularly white washed with lime for the antimicrobial properties that provide hygienic and sanitary atmosphere. Limes washes, were used over tree trunks for their anti bacterial properties.

1 Limewash_and_slate,_Glyn-gath_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1227199

To day Lime-wash is considered ideal restoration-conservation coating as it does not harm the masonry surfaces. It is also a sustainable product.

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PREVENTIVE and INTERVENTIVE CONSERVATION

Hiroshima

 

Interventive conservation is the practice of mitigating further deterioration. The goal is to treat an artefact like entity so that it can be gently handled, safely stored or displayed without further risk of damage. In case of buildings the aim is to enhance the structural safety, bring it as close to its ‘original state’ or match it to some ‘perceived image’.

 

Preventive conservation is a practice of preservation by providing a stable environment to minimize further damage or deterioration. The damage or fouling to an object or extent occurs from two main sources, the Environment and Human occupation or visitation. Both together accelerate the unstable nature of the entity’s composition. Preventive conservation is performed by a professional conservator and may mean specialized cleaning or the removal of agents that cause damage -an intervention of some form.

 

The way Interventive conservation and Preventive conservation are handled, and the end results, distinguish one from the other.

 

Conservation starts with an accepted truth, that the present condition of a built form or an entity is a historical fact, resulting from natural causes and human discriminations. The natural influences and human machinations in a building or entity are usually so interpolated that it is almost impossible to delineate them spatially or temporally. It is almost impossible to conserve any entity unless some of the changes are terminated, withdrawn, isolated or retracted. These exercises more often mean a move towards the original condition, which is an unknown or uncertain to begin with.

 

Preservation should be less bothered about the history of the object or look for the original conditions. But in attempts to create a stable environment to minimize further damage or deterioration, one needs to know are the actions yielding any fruitful results. Preservation attempts must not add anything that is irretrievable or un-restorable. Any action that adds a physical layer is avoided, as much as any structure or protective cover that obscures or obliterates the identity or appeal of an entity are not favoured.

 

Interventive Conservation and preservation both turn out to be attempts in restorations. ‘Buildings are preserved or conserved by the society, due to a fear, that any other action may cause irrevocable harm than any good’.

 

Society may not only preserve or conserve things its members like and value, but also abhorrent things (Hitler’s concentration camps, Hiroshima atomic ruins etc.), that must be ‘relived’. The appropriateness of the condition being preserved or conserved is always a matter of controversy. Preservation and conservation are always subjective judgements that are valid in only a particular, political, social or historical context.

 

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