The concept of restoration in architecture has now become a favorable idea of relevance in today’s design scenario. With erratic changes in ways of living that result in momentous climatic changes, we find ourselves on a frantic search behind sustainable design measures. In this vein, restoration projects are conscious choices made by architects towards a judicious building environment that accommodates present-day requirements in spaces belonging to an earlier time. 

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At times, restoration projects can also be desperate measures to preserve one of the last remaining physical structures of utmost cultural significance to indigenous communities. Restoration projects reiterate the true image of a settlement – the identity of a city does not lie in its creations but rather about the social and physical structures it chooses to retain and restore. 

And so to do justice to all kinds of restoration projects, here are a couple of things to consider:

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1. Renovate and Recreate

All structures are distinguished by their physical fabric – the external facade of historic buildings, in particular, house a diverse array of iconic elements. That being the case, diligent efforts must be made to identify features of peculiarity and recreate them.

By recreating the ornate appearance of the structure, the creative integrity of the artists is acknowledged and users get to reminisce about the pre-historic nature of the building. 

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The Notre Dame pictured before (left) and after (right) the catastrophic fires. The picture on the left exhibits the iconic spire that was woefully destroyed. ©BBC

2. Appropriate choice of materials 

In most cases of restoration, the palpable structures of historic buildings have been subjected to decay and destruction over time. To accomplish a complete restoration, one should take into consideration sensitive processes and specific materials alongside design measures. This not only results in a successfully accurate recreation of spaces but also protects the building from any exploitation of the complex with contemporary interventions.

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The Taj Falknuma Palace in Hyderabad has now restored its intricately built-in Italian marble surfaces to function as a luxe- boutique hotel. ©Greaves India

3. Sustainably sound structures 

When considering the execution of restoration projects, traditionally designed responses to climatic surroundings such as fountains and windcatchers, must also be revived. To further promote the life span of historic complexes, the restoration design can be integrated with technologically-advanced features ensuring sustainability. Ultimately, restoration projects must be designed with a far-sighted approach, that appropriately accommodates the needs of the future. 

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Bomonjee Hormarjee Wadia Fountain and Clock Tower were sustainably restored along with its water fountains originally built-in 1882. ©Trip Advisor

4. Minimal Intervention 

The primary aim of restoration projects is to make certain the availability of these culturally rich heritage structures for the years to come. A viable approach towards historic restoration would be to practice minimal intervention, as it could compromise on the structural ability of the previously built structure.  

Contemporary interventions should generally be avoided unless the project necessarily calls for interferences that only aid the stability of the structure. 

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Located in Valetta, Grandmaster’s Palace is being restored following minimalistic intervention approaches and hopes to conserve the famed 19 lunettes ( semi-circular paintings). ©Arts and Culture

5. Building Ordinance Laws 

Before carrying out restorative processes of any kind, make sure to consult a legal professional to recognize the laws and regulations that protect the site in question. Bracket the extent of restorative measures that are operable within the limit of the legal provisions. In cases of religious structures, unified consent from legal authorities and communities must be sought after.   

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The Antwerp Port House restored by Zaha Hadid architects preserved the façade of the pre-existing fire station which is protected by historic code. ©Wikipedia

6. Consolidated treatment plan 

After documenting the causes of decay, the use of physical materials of an earlier time and the layers of historic alterations, a treatment plan merging solutions that address all of these concerns must be formulated. 

The original materials used in the project might be sensitive to chemical attacks or even subjected to erosion as a result of chemical substances used to restore the physical element. Therefore, a multi-faceted treatment plan should be carried out with thorough knowledge and research. 

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Bank of Spain went under a detailed and tactful restoration which consisted of galvanizing cornices and cautious repairing of lighting and wiring along the facades ©Kalam Es

7. Modest budget 

An important aspect of any restoration project is to re-integrate the functional purpose and imitate the aesthetics of the structure within a fiscally sound budget. In specific cases of historic conservation projects, funds are provided by the government and reputed trusts, necessitating a well-planned use of resources. 

Environment-friendly housing restoration projects also make up for a good sustainable measure that can go easy on your pockets too! After all, “A penny saved is a penny earned”.

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Humayun’s Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site restored in the year 2013 by collaborative efforts of The Aga Khan Trust for Culture. ©Unsplash

8. Time 

Restoration projects are nothing less of an elaborate metamorphic process that involves the labored efforts of many professionals. An ample amount of time should be devoted to documenting the restoration and towards practicing a sensitive non-destructive restoration. A significant amount of time is spent on cleaning up the debris before beginning with the restoration project. 

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The Royal Opera house in Mumbai took a total of 10 years to complete restoration. ©Architectural Digest India

9. Professional Guidance 

Seek professional guidance to provide for the demanding and cumbersome requirements of the project. From high-end structural engineers to skilled craftsmen, the consultation of every professional can aid in decision making and efficient planning of the project.

10. Urban geniality

While opting for sincere interventions, look out for possible spaces that can be adapted to fit the urban context. Interactive spaces that encourage social networking or support public amenities can be designed along with the restoration of the historic structure. Restoration projects can also help the local community by incorporating opportunities for economic relevance.

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Villa Heike once used by Stasi or the German security service during the Cold War is now transformed to accommodate creative studios for artists and visitors. ©

She is pursuing her bachelor's in architecture at NIT Trichy and dwells in the last pages of notebooks among shabby doodles of her canine friends. She believes every building is not just a combination of apt spaces but an idea capturing a narrative in history that is waiting to be told.

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