“The past is not dead, it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make.”
With a beautiful choice of words, William Morris, a pioneer of the British Arts and Crafts Movement, rightly emphasizes the need to restore art and art forms that not only preserve the creative integrity of artists but also the ever-evolving cultural heritage it has contributed to.
Along the same lines, restoration in architecture is done with a spirit to uphold the building’s heritage value and to re-live in the time of its creators.
Here are 15 examples from across the globe that helps understand the need for contemporary restoration in architecture:
1. Villa Heike, Berlin
Located next to a prison, on the outskirts of Berlin, this structure had been abandoned since 1990. The villa was constructed in 1910 and belonged to Richard Heike, an affluent industrialist who grew his business by selling meat and sausage making machines. Soon after the death of Heike as a result of the Soviet invasion, the villa was used by Stasi or the German security service, during the Cold War.
The abandoned structure was restored and redesigned by architect Christoph Schubert in 2019, who transformed this space into an office and showroom that hosts artist’s works.
2. Bomanjee Hormarjee Wadia Fountain and Clock Tower, Mumbai
The clock tower was set upright in 1882 to honor Bomonjee Hormarjee Wadia, a Parsi philanthropist who contributed to the noble cause of education in the city. Conservation architect Vikas Dilawari took up the project and was able to carefully restore the building’s drinking water fountain along with its intricate facade that donned various elements from Persian architecture. The project went on to gain an honorable mention under the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
3. Banco de España Library Restoration, Madrid
The Bank of Spain has its headquarters located in Madrid and was built in several phases from the 19th century. One of its most reclaimed elements was its reading room that bared iron cast lattices, painted in a conspicuous shade of white, embodying purity and sanctity.
Space was recently renovated by Matilde Peralte de Amo who successfully managed to restore the library’s striking monochromatic features.
4. Tammany Hall, New York City
Built-in 1928, Tammany Hall, a socialist hub that played a major role in dictating the political climate of New York City. The restoration and refurbishment of the complex included preservation of its two brick facades and even an addition of a contemporary three-storey glass and steel dome.
5. Notre Dame, Paris
The popular tourist attraction, Notre Dame, built in medieval Paris, has withstood continuous wicked trials of time right from its desecration during the French Revolution to the recent fires that destroyed its spires and roofs.
The cathedral is now being restored under a propitious project that aims to restore vaults and gables and rebuild its roof and spires.
6. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi
A treasured UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 16th century Delhi was restored in 2013, under an ambitious conservation project led by The Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The project lasted for over 6 years, during which craftsmen from Uzbekistan were brought to revive the splendid Mughal structure.
7. Grandmaster’s Palace, Valletta
Built-in the 16th century, the incredible palace stands in the capital city of Malta and has witnessed everything from Vikings to British intervention and then went on to serve as the nation’s parliament building. The extensive €10 million restoration project hopes to restore the famed 19 lunettes (semi-circular paintings) and the detailed ceiling of the Palace corridor as a measure towards conserving its historic importance.
8. 13KV Dordrecht Health Center, Netherlands
Restored and opened in 2020, the complex is named in reference to its previous building function – a 13kV electricity distribution station. The complex was restored under the guidance of Architect Sander Ros and his co-workers at RoosRosArchitecten, who preserved the vintage industrial character of the building by implementing recycled furniture and edgy steel fences.
9. Haveli Dharampura, Delhi
What was once a historic haveli in 1887, now stands as a luxurious boutique hotel with beautiful ornate carvings and terrazzo tiles that manages to capture the essence of Mughal architecture. The site was initially dismissed as a dangerous building by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi because of its severe dampness and declining strength that worsened over years.
10. Castello di Dolceacqua, Italy
After multiple attempts to restore the Castle in the 19th century, the site was completely restored and recovered in 2015. The reclamation project was led by LD+SR architetti who focused on establishing a continuous trail that offered scenic views to its visitors.
11. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Trichy
The concerted efforts towards the restoration of the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple earned the title of the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award of Merit 2017. The project was one of a kind that achieved the complete restoration of 21 gopurams including the raja gopuram that scales a magnificent height of 236 ft.
12. Casa Vagantes, Mexico
A small scale restoration project was taken by architects Arista Cero and Gina Góngora that serve to accommodate bustling travelers who frequent the historic center of the city.
13. Repos Maternel Women’s Shelter Extension, France
A vast expansive country house covering a total of 3082 m2 that functioned as a nursery and even offered accommodation and supporting services to its residents. Built in 1920, most of the building’s services have now been re-established and modernized.
14. Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel, Hyderabad
One of many pristine estates in India, the Falaknuma Palace went under sensitive restoration that now serves as a luxury hotel under Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces of the Tata Group. The palace belonged to the colonized era of Nizams of the then Hyderabad state and even hosted the British royalty.
15. Royal Opera House, Mumbai
Opened in 1916 as a popular hub for entertainment for the elite society for colonial India, the historic structure was renovated as a collaborative measure by the Maharashtrian government and architect Abha Narain Lambah. By 2012, the complex was completely renewed and now accommodates a cafe along with a fine dining restaurant making it the perfect space for networking events.