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RENOVATIO ARCHITECTURAE.The Ruin as an Architecture Generator

Part 2 Dissertation 2009
Anca Dumitrescu
Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism | Romania
The present paper intends to explore the concept of “the Ruin”, to understand the possible means of intervention, and ways in which the ruin can generate new usable architecture. It represents the theoretical base for the recovery project of the Kornis castle – a historical monument, in the village of Manastirea, Transylvania.
The main argument is that by recovering the monument that once stood as an economic, formal, functional and cultural centre of a place, one can revitalize the settlement itself.
The first chapter of the paper defines from a theoretical and legal point of view the concepts it uses: “The Ruin”, the “Monument”, the “Heritage”, and the “Value –of ruins“.The ruin is classified between its extremes: the “anonymous ruin” and the “major ruin”, the “ruin that became” and “the created ruin”, with all its in-between types.
The classification is followed in the second chapter by the description of the various types of interventions specific for each of the previously established ruin type. Thus one can decide which principles and moral aspects one has to follow when working with different kinds of ruins, and understand when these can generate new architecture.
The third chapter explores new architecture derived from or build on top of ruins by studying precedents: the practice of conservation and re-use of ruins and particular work of various architects.
The theoretical approach is finally applied and verified in the last two chapters with a case study: the Kornis castle, later to be detailed as an architectural project of intervention.
Once main focus point of the village, the 16th century Kornis castle now lies in ruin, its disappearance dragging the surrounding place into cultural non-existence. The final scope is to find the most appropriate and efficient way to intervene in order to save a monument and its socio-cultural environment.
Extrapolating, the idea is that by recovering the core, the whole will flourish. Generally speaking, the stake of an intervention on ruins like the Kornis castle is not only saving the fragile non-renewable and irreplaceable cultural resource that is the Romanian heritage, but saving entire communities, lifestyles and regional specificities.

Anca Dumitrescu

The dissertation is a complex exploration of a particular situation to be found in our country in which, for political reasons, the cultural heritage has been neglected for five decades so that many important pieces are practically ruined, without actually being “real” archaeological sites. Thus, the subject itself is relevant.
As according to the Venice Charter (but not only), ruins have to be preserved as such, the student starts by studying the concepts “historic monument” and “ruin”, in order to identify a theoretical (almost philosophical) bases for interventions on the particular type of buildings and ensembles ruined for special reasons.
It is a high merit of the dissertation that the author succeeds in defining – without denying the main principles of contemporary preservation – six different types of ruins. Also, by making this brief, but rigorous analysis, the author does not forget the overall view and uses it to introduce the aspect of “recycling” ruins.
These genuine results are ensured by an approach that combines several fields: theory of architecture, theory of preservation of cultural heritage, international documents and national laws.
The approach is accompanied by a chapter on the different types of values that may be imbedded in each type of ruins and also by an overview of current types of interventions accepted in the field of preservation of cultural heritage – an instrument introduced to ensure that no significant aspect of a cultural resource risks to be lost.
The final part of the dissertation starts with a synthetic presentation of what the relationship between “old” and “new” can and should be, based upon a relevant selection of examples and opinions of contemporary architects.
The final test of the research method is the case study – that proves to be a “(brutally) created ruin” but with a great potential to be revived through contemporary additions and to revive the settlement for which is has been, for centuries, the economic and social heart.
One should also mention the capacity of the author to respect the maximum number of pages (requested by the university), without loosing information, by accurately defining a series of annexes.

Hanna Derer
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