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Monumentality and Meaning: The Issue of the Misinterpretation of Truth in Architectural Restoration

Part 2 Dissertation 2012
Christina Pieri
Nottingham Trent University Nottingham UK
To restore for barely aesthetic reasons does not necessarily suggest the accurate representation of the reinstated structure. Therefore, the relevance of historical continuity associated with monumentality emerges as a critical aspect in architectural restoration. Issues concerning the authenticity of recovered buildings come into view through the problematic approaches intended for their structural and functional completion. As a result, the authenticity of the restored building is challenged, with main concerns surrounding its accurate historical continuity and representation.

What defines what should be preserved, restored, demolished? Can monuments not lose their meaning? This dissertation offers a thorough investigation of several methods regarding the restoration of historic buildings and the danger of misinterpreting their authenticity by concealing the past. Historical accuracy and continuity emerge as critical aspects for the avoidance of heritage loss, an inevitable consequence once historic structures are harmed by uninformed restoration.

The Neues Museum in Berlin has been employed as the main case study. This being a historically significant structure, a museum, a ruin
and a monument. The success of Chipperfield in maintaining a complete narrative of the building’s existence, embodying the authentic qualities of the ruin-building displays what heritage structures and sites could achieve without losing their authenticity.

The dissertation demonstrates several approaches, which will potentially embrace the existing architectural heritage without misinterpreting its authentic qualities. It finds that being able to distinguish the past in association with the present could be the impending method of allowing for the historic to co-exist with the contemporary. As misinterpretation provokes characteristics linked to the falsification and the covering up of the authentic, accurate representation of the historic structure should therefore aim to expose the complete truth of its existence. Gradually, the avoidance of heritage loss will be achieved, embracing the architectural possibilities unfolded as buildings mature.

Christina Pieri

Ana Souto
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