Within layers: A study of historical processes and participant interaction in architectural restoration and reconstruction
Marcoux, David Patrick
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Statement of issue/problem. This work explored [and proposed] an alternative methodology of architectural restoration and reconstruction, that attempted to contribute to the value of architectural restoration as a didactic tool, and as a means to impart an understanding of an architectural work to a viewer beyond that of the formal singular object. Considering the amount of interest, both locally and nationally, as well as the significant fiscal investment in historic preservation, restoration and reconstruction, it would seem particularly poignant at this time for the academic community to consider its position regarding these issues. This is a facet of our chosen profession that is not significantly analyzed from through a theoretical framework as is often the case with other architectural issues in academia. Statement of significance of issue . Traditional approaches to the restoration of historic architectural objects fail to result in objects that perform as didactic tools. The most prevalent strategy has been to identify a significant moment in the life cycle of a building and then endeavor to restore the physical conditions to that moment. This research proposes that the primary value of architectural restoration and reconstruction lies in its opportunity to teach its viewers about the architecture and provoke critical thought about such work. Historically, this teaching has been restricted to a lesson in material construction and idealized spatial conditions. Typically no consideration is made to impart an understanding of the architectural object as the manifestation of an ideological process, or as a living entity that encompasses the lives of its intended occupants and its own history. In seeking to recreate one significant moment, the restoration of the architectural object negates its other significant moments. If one accepts the idea of architectural restoration as a didactic tool, then it is appropriate to seek out opportunities to teach a participant about a work of architecture beyond its mere idealized constructional reality. Method of inquiry . This process began with a survey of reconstruction and restoration strategies popular in practice today, as well as a survey of salient theoretical texts. A series of case studies were documented and analyzed in order to position this design work within the context of other accepted methods and their success in imparting understanding of architectural work beyond constructed realities. Based on the findings of these studies and where opportunity existed to propose advancement in this process, the task was to develop a proposal for an alternative approach to reconstruction/restoration which attempts to contribute to the qualities of didactic value in question. As this process evolved, it was be applied to a case study work of architecture and refined iteratively as issues salient issues emerged. A proposal of the reconstruction of the case study work will be presented based on this new system. At which time it will be possible to comparatively analyze this new method against traditional approaches and determine its success with regard to the aforementioned priorities. Expected outcome . The culmination of this research is to propose an alternative method for reconstructing and restoring significant architectural objects, which will address the issue of didactic value and participant interaction with a work of architecture as a manifestation of a process rather than a singular object. This process will yield a new version of the architectural object, which is born of the information that traditionally generates restored architecture, but may not adhere to the formal or material conditions of the original built work. The final proposal both of the case study work and the method itself can then be critically analyzed and potentially contribute to the engagement of historically significant architecture as a body of theory.