RESPECTING THE VALUE OF CONTEXT: The Relationship Between Old and New

2011 US/ICOMOS International Symposium

Historically, the purpose of conservation has been to retain the integrity and authenticity of the heritage object as inherent in its materials, design, craftsmanship, and for immoveable heritage, its setting.

The Compromise: Cesare Brandi and the Venice Charter
Art 3. The intention in conserving and restoring monuments is to safeguard them no less as works of art than as historical evidence

Art 9. The…aim is to preserve and reveal the aesthetic and historic value of the monuments and authentic documents and is based on respect for original material and authentic documents. It must stop…where conjecture begins, and in this case moreover any extra work which is indispensable must be distinct from the architectural composition and must bear a contemporary stamp.

Filling functional gaps in a building or site.
Art 5. The conservation of monuments is always facilitated by making use of them for some socially useful purpose. Such use is…desirable but it must not change the layout and decoration of the building. It is within these limits that modifications demanded by a change of function should be envisaged and may be permitted

THE OBJECT:
Reconciling respect for extant material with the need to understand original intent, form and context

Real historic fabric vs. a neutral infill fabric

Or may be no infill at all

Anastylosis: recapturing the original form

Rehabilitation: prolonging the original function

Just as with buildings, urban districts can be heritage objects, demanding the same approach to safeguarding its values and all the elements where their significance lies.

How can we infill the gaps and lacunae in historic urban settings?

In an urban setting, the historic fabric is identified and characterized through the study of URBAN MORPHOLOGY form as defined by repetitive elements

Some morphologies are easy to define

Other morphologies are more complex

Many approaches to infill building in terms of the mix that the designer and the design commission wish to respect:
1. the existing urban morphology 2. the building typology 3. the prevailing architectural styles 4. the historic use

GROUP 1: Those who respect the traditional urban morphology AND the prevalent style

GROUP 2: Those who respect the prevalent architectural styles BUT NOT the existing urban morphology.

GROUP 3: Those who respect the facades of traditional streetscapes, BUT NOT the building typologies

GROUP 4: Those who respect the traditional morphology but express it in contemporary ways with a harmonious intent

GROUP 5: Those who respect the traditional morphology but express it in contemporary ways with the intent to contrast.

GROUP 6: Those who respect nothing on the assumption that their great genius will enrich the urban environment.

GROUP 7: Verticalization and densification of the historic urban territory

A new approach: the Historic Urban Landscape
Values reside on the material fabric as well as on intagible attributes, such as land use, associative memories, communal rituals, etc.

The needs of the Haj or the historic urban context of Mecca?

Example:

Chinatown in San Francisco

Chinatown in Washington: focusing on the material significance and not on the intangible siginificance

Have a good discussion! Thank you!

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