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TITLE The Conservation of Baroque Buildings

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT International Institute for Baroque Studies

DESCRIPTION Section 1: Conservation Philosophy

These lectures deal with the concept of restoration and its development over the ages with particular reference to Baroque Heritage. It will first consider the way society perceived this heritage over the ages and will examine different types of interventions carried out prior to the development of a proper restoration theory. These interventions usually took this form of innovations, demolitions or transformations. The study unit will then deal with the way restoration practice developed in different countries, focusing on the development of stylistic restoration in France and its influence in other countries. The main protagonist discussed in relation to this theme is Viollet le Duc and other contemporaries in France, mainly Ludovic Vitet and Prosper Merimee. Another important movement in the field of restoration practice was the anti-restoration movement that developed in England, influenced by the writings of John Ruskin and others. This resulted in the idea of conservation as opposed to restoration, a controversy which is discussed in the study-unit in connection with the safeguarding of the Baroque Heritage in Europe. A discussion on the main theories and concepts that were developed in the 20th century will follow, the main personalities discussed being Alois Riegl and Cesare Brandi both of whom considerably influenced modern attitudes towards restoration.

The study unit will also discuss International charters and conventions, including the Athens Charter, the Venice Charter, the Burra Charter, the UNESCO convention, European Cultural Convention, the Convention for the Protection of the Architectural heritage of Europe and the European Convention on offences relation to Cultural Property. The local scene will also be discussed, this including on debate on the roles of the Antiquities Act and the Structure Plan in conserving the Baroque Heritage of Malta.

Lecture Themes

1. An introduction to Cultural Heritage.
2. Restoration or conservation of Baroque Buildings as used by the different cultures. The problem of terminology.
3. Early concepts on history, the age of the antiquarians during the Baroque period and the enlightenment.
4. The classification of heritage and the identification of values.
5. The development of restoration in France. The impact of Voillet-le-Duc and his contemporaries on the approach of restoration.
6. The development of restoration in England. The theories followed by Gilbert Scott, William Morris and John Ruskin and the anti-restoration movement.
7. Alois Reigl and his theory of values.
8. The development of restoration in Italy. The approaches adopted by Boito and Giovannoni.
9. The modern theory of restoration by Cesare Brandi and its applicability to Baroque buildings.
10. The main protagonists of the philosophy of restoration upheld in the 20th century.
11. Valorisation and strategic conservation: Reuse and integration into contemporary life of Baroque buildings.
12. The importance of the Athens Charter, the Venice Charter and the Burra charter.
13. International conventions adopted by UNESCO and the Council of Europe and their legal implications.
14. The legal situation in Malta regarding cultural heritage with particular reference to the conservation of Baroque buildings.

Section 2: Conservation and Recording Techniques

The aim of these lectures is to develop and strengthen the postgraduate's ability to analyze, synthesize, and resolve three dimensional problems within the framework of conservation ethics. Lectures, followed by site visits to workshops, and construction sites are aimed at introducing the student to the technical problems of the conservation of Baroque architecture. Lectures will be delivered within five main points of reference, namely:

The aim of these lectures are to provide a clear background, with a detailed chemical and physical analysis, of the main building materials used in Baroque buildings, and how their strengths and weaknesses can be understood and used to advantage.

Building Analysis
The aim of these lectures is to provide a clear background of how materials and design philosophies were integrated to produce buildings, which fulfilled structural, environmental, and aesthetic necessities.

Deterioration Mechanisms
The aim of these lectures is to provide an understanding of how materials age and decay act and interact, with an emphasis on the cause, and the deterioration mechanism rather than the symptoms of the aging process.

Recording Baroque Buildings
The aim of these lectures is to provide an introduction as to the purpose of recording a historic building, the techniques that exist for doing it, and who may be the best people to undertake it, and the actual procedures that may conveniently be followed.

Conservation Intervention
Using knowledge gained during the course of above mentioned lectures, the aim of these lectures is to create awareness, and outline the philosophy behind methods aimed at slowing the aging process, and of repair, concerning Baroque buildings.

Course participants are expected to assimilate the information provided during the lectures, and explore and substantiate lines of thought and decisions during seminars and discussions, and above all be objective in sifting contradictory information and opinions on the subject, and come to a reasoned decision.

Lecture Themes

1. The Documentation of Baroque Buildings
    Historical research.
    Surveying and drawing techniques.

2. The Documentation of Baroque Buildings
    Rectified photography.

3. The Documentation of Baroque Buildings
    Laser scanning.

4. The Use of stone in Baroque Buildings I
    The local scenario, with respect to the geological formation of hardstone (Upper and Lower Coralline Limestone), and globigerina limestone, and the characteristics of inferior quality stone.

5. The Use of stone in Baroque Buildings II
    Local quarrying principles and techniques.

6. The Use of stone in Baroque Buildings III
    Site visit.

7. The Use of stone in Baroque Buildings IV
    Properties, and production of local and imported limes. (Portland cements, Hydraulic Lime, Unslaked Lime, Hydrated Lime, Slaked Lime Putty).

8. Deterioration I
    An introduction to the deterioration of the stone fabric through physical and chemical phenomena (erosion, direct human action, geological phenomena, water, salts, pollution, marine environment, etc.).

9. Deterioration II
    An introduction to the deterioration of the stone fabric through chemical and biological action (moss, lichens, trees, etc.).

10. Intervention I
    Addressing the problem of stone deterioration (stone replacement, plastic repairs, sacrificial layers, etc..).
    Addressing the problem of humidity, and the implications of such measures.

11. Intervention II
    Site Visit.

12. Intervention III
    An analysis of the deterioration of the stone fabric through chemical and biological action (moss, lichens, trees, etc.).

13. Intervention IV
    Hands-on experience.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 40%
Examination (2 Hours) Yes 60%

LECTURER/S Hermann Bonnici (Co-ord.)
Claude Busuttil
Saviour Scerri

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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