Historical buildings are some of the few available sources of information about people that existed long before us. It is fascinating that we can see and experience spaces that have hosted significant events and individuals from many periods ago. Even today, these buildings hold value as landmarks and endow an identity to their host cities. As we appreciate the opportunity to witness history as a part of our modern world, it is also important that we carry on the efforts in sustaining these compositions for posterity to experience. 

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Restoration Architecture may be described as a planned and regulated intervention in preserving historical buildings and cities. There are certain direct and indirect advantages associated with preserving historical works. The most evident ones are that these buildings generate revenue by virtue of being tourist attractions. When given a functionality, they also help avoid the wastage associated with constructing a new building to serve the purpose. It is also observed that historical buildings are a way for people to understand the history and culture of the place they inhabit. This helps to inculcate a sense of community and togetherness among people. 

Evolution of Restoration Architecture

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The Athens Charter of 1931, First International Congress of Architects and Specialists of Historic buildings in1957, and Second International Congress of Architects and Specialists of Historic buildings in 1964 are important milestones in regulating the restoration of Historic buildings. 

The Venice Charter was the first of 13 resolutions adopted in the congress of1964. It contains 7 main titles and 16 articles that serve as the most influential guidelines in restoration Architecture. These guidelines, however, are faced with the criticism that they do not address the concepts of site, reversibility, and social and financial issues. 

Even the Articles are targeted for allegedly promoting modernist propaganda. 

There are multiple schools of thought when it comes to the process of restoration in Architecture. ‘Age value’ is an idea that promotes the belief that history should be left untouched. This sits in contrast with the ‘Historical value’ idea of making interventions to ensure the sustenance of history for posterity.

The third school of thought called ‘Intentional Commemorative’ finds a middle ground in this clash of ideologies. It is a last resort intervention employed when the very existence of the composition is under threat. It is a restoration that is essential for conservation. Horrific visuals of the fire that broke out at Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral on 15th April 2019, will still be fresh in the minds of most people. The 850-year old building suffered substantial destruction and the French government has already spent over 165 million euros just stabilizing the existing structure. The restoration is planned for over 5 years and is expected to be completed by the Paris Olympics of 2024. 

Another important viewpoint is that of ‘contemporaneity’, which suggests that historic buildings may be given a new functionality, without disturbing their basic characteristics. 

Responsibilities of a Restoration Architect

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In the words of Gustavo Giovannoni, a restoration Architect is also a historian, a builder, and an artist. It is a job that demands management and organizational skills, along with plenty of composure and patience. Before commencing work on a building, they need to understand its character, historical significance, and structural specifications. The next step is to prepare a detailed plan of action to restore without affecting the true qualities and stability of the structure. 

Preparation of feasibility reports, working drawings showing proposed interventions, renderings, project estimation, material specifications, and tender documents are some of the tasks associated with the job. 

Job Opportunities of a Restoration Architect

Restoration in Architecture is the meeting point for Architectural History and Architecture. It is the amalgamation of the past and the future. Restoration Architecture differs from mainstream Architecture only in its design process and methodologies. Hence, much like in mainstream Architectural practice, restoration Architects have a multitude of work opportunities. 

The most popular employers in this field are private non-profit conservation groups, Architectural and engineering conservation firms, Government historic restoration departments /offices, and private building owners. 

Qualifications, Skills, and Work required for a Restoration Architect

Apart from being a registered Architect, a master’s degree in conservation architecture, historic preservation, or any other similar subjects will be required. Specialization in areas like preservation technologies, project management, and history will also be beneficial in the pursuit of becoming a restoration Architect. Typically, experience gained from working as a trainee will be helpful while looking for employment opportunities.

Knowledge about Architectural history, theory and design, and structural engineering are important to succeed in this field. The candidate should also be good at working as part of a team and be proactive during challenges that arise due to the unpredictability of this profession. 

On average, Restoration Architects could annually earn around $73000 in the USA, $63000 in Canada, and $12000 in India. These figures are subject to pay scale, grade, and type of employment. 

Restoration Architecture is an essential ingredient for the sustainable growth of any locality. It is a profession that demands time, commitment, and dedication but rewards it with personal and professional satisfaction. For aspiring Restoration Architects, there are several online courses available to help with honing their skills and also to understand the field before making any commitment. Courses are available from edX, IIT Kharagpur, and Athabasca University, to name a few.

References

  1. Martín-Hernández, M.J. (2007). Architecture from architecture: encounters between conservation and restoration. Future Anterior, [online] 4(2), pp.62–69. Available at: https://www.bcin.ca/bcin/detail.app?id=426138&wbdisable=true [Accessed 16 Aug. 2021].
  2. Chadwick, L. (2021). Two years on, how is restoration of Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral going? [online] euronews. Available at: https://www.euronews.com/2021/04/14/hope-and-joy-as-paris-notre-dame-cathedral-nearly-secured-2-years-after-fire.
  3. www.icomos.org. (n.d.). The Athens Charter for the Restoration of Historic Monuments – 1931 – International Council on Monuments and Sites. [online] Available at: https://www.icomos.org/en/167-the-athens-charter-for-the-restoration-of-historic-monuments.
  4. Boito, C. and Birignani, C. (2009). Restoration in Architecture: First Dialogue. Future Anterior, 6(1), pp.68–83.
  5. nationalskillindiamission.in. (n.d.). Restoration Architect : National Skill India Mission. [online] Available at: https://nationalskillindiamission.in/updates/2673/ [Accessed 16 Aug. 2021].
  6. www.academicinvest.com. (n.d.). How to Become a Restoration Architect | Academic Invest. [online] Available at: https://www.academicinvest.com/science-careers/architecture-careers/how-to-become-a-restoration-architect [Accessed 16 Aug. 2021].
  7. JK, B. (2012). Restoration Architecture and Design. [online] Architecture Student Chronicles. Available at: http://www.architecture-student.com/architecture/restoration-architecture-and-design/#more-1835 [Accessed 16 Aug. 2021].
Author

Avneeth Premarajan is a practicing Architect and an ardent “student” of Architecture. He is intrigued by concepts, ideas, philosophy, evolution and geography of design. He is more than willing to give up a few hours of day-dreaming to write about his thoughts.

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