Using old stuff and thinking in a new way : material culture, conservation and fashion in architecture

Gonzalez-Longo, Cristina (2012) Using old stuff and thinking in a new way : material culture, conservation and fashion in architecture. In: The Cultural Role of Architecture. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 68-77. ISBN 9780415783415

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Abstract

Past and current historiography and criticism of architecture have created a fictitious division - from the design point of view - between new architecture and conservation of the old. They have been dictated more by prejudices and fashionable visual imagery than by analysis of previous realisations, in which one could learn how pre-existences have influenced new architecture. Different phases in buildings are often ignored, treated as unitary creations belonging to a single design or privileging only one of their phases, limiting the critique to visual and formal aspects. This study of architectural transformations demonstrates that he way in which existing architecture is being reused, conserved and transformed reflects the culture of its time. The dialectics and attitudes of their architects, builders and patrons are expressed in the relationship of the new architecture with the existing material and how it is presented in the final project. Contrary to painting and sculpture practice, in architecture, materials and structures can be reused. Architecture goes beyond the idea and the object and can only be created and analysed as individual projects, where use and three-dimensional aspects are crucial.