Written by Fabio Marcelli, translated by Maria Letizia Pazzi (IT Version)
Determining which technological border is to be restored may be complex, especially since the restoration «feeds on doubt and the consequent search» and time gradually outlines the edges. The restoration is inspired by experience and time check and it implements a constant search which does not aim to develop theories, methods or technologies, but increasingly improves in the unique identity of each intervention. The relationship between restoration and technology is strange and sometimes critical, an in fieri connection characterised by setbacks, for instance the summit cement curbs summit or the alkaline silicates. Theoretical, methodological and technological values may be upset from positive to negative and vice versa by virtue of the above-mentioned case by case. Restoration perhaps embodies the etymological root of technology: discourse on the know-how.
The term technology in the field of restoration has complex values considering its extremely wide field of applications which, more than anywhere else, is characterised by the typical multidisciplinary of restoration. The technology of restoration, often confused with a technique, is the set of solutions that draws inspiration from the tradition and reinvents itself through new methods and processes. Multidisciplinary is joined by experimentation, which, in restoration, should not be separated from operational prudence of the construction site since the market often launches extremely poor quality products.
Restoration, as a conservation project, becomes the border, the ridge between the past and the future, history and design. Such multiple aspect creates consequential interfaces between the sphere of preservation and that of technology, at different levels: evaluation and diagnosis, methods and materials, technical and legislative adjustments. Each of these aspects presents many problems, which, although they differ one from the other, still concern a specific technological response applied to restoration. In the survey the potential of 3D laser scanning has created a new culture of the method, has moved the critical moment of the detector to the time right after the discovery process and has radically modified the acquisition and management of data. Applicative studies of technologies, which shall ensure the least invasiveness alongside with a great number of data, are employed in the field of diagnostics; such as using acoustics to analyse alleged detachments in multilayer materials and creating a so-called acoustic image. As to methods and materials, two are the main lines of development. The first one consists in the technological implementation of historical procedures, such as connectors for the reinforcement of wooden roofs, glass fibre nets for wall plating, etc. Such line is followed by a subgroup which involves new materials, for instance the structural glass, whose features, even aesthetic, makes them particularly suitable for integration interventions of structural areas, both as renovation, both as a new usability, creating what Pane called «a nice contrast instead of a false imitation».Di FAM1885 – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55970492
The other line of development is mainly based on pluridisciplinarity and on a kind of technological globalization where an increasing number of materials and techniques born elsewhere are employed in restoration: for instance lasers aimed at cleaning deposits derive from industrial devices. Heating towels, used for tires in Formula One, aim to solve problems of condensation; bacteria, which have already been employed in former cases of oil spills, are trained to metabolise the substances and agents which cause deterioration. Such prejudicial elements would not be easily eliminated with other means and when the substance ends, they die with no chemical or physical consequence for the material. Nanotechnology is another example of technological globalization; it derives from physics and represents the last frontier of the consolidation of stone. Restoration holds an extremely low market share, is scarcely economically appealing for those who have the capital to invest in research, it does not produce enough money to repay the economic effort research requires compared to other fields, such as cosmetics. Therefore, pluridisciplinarity became successful and restoration was forced to use materials born in other spheres with a consequent slowdown in the application, due to insufficient experimental data and an unstable availability of the product whose production is related to the actual referent market field. The adjustments area is the most delicate and will probably require the greatest future effort by restoration technology. The plant safety, the architectural barriers overcome, the applicability of procedures for the seismic improvement represent only few of the legitimate subjects a historical artefact longs for in an active restoration, namely an intervention which combines a conservative strategy with a practical re-use which, whatever it is, cannot ignore the contemporary. The obstacle will not be overcome easily, since such requirements often do not concern the originality of the building; furthermore, they cannot be denied for excessive conservatism and should be included in a natural diachronic path of the artefact whose actualization, while respecting the historical and artistic values, guarantees a transmission to the future. Integration would represent the most desirable option, as in the case of floors or heating mopboards. Considering that such strategy is not always adoptable, superimposition may replace it, respecting the recognition and reversibility of a good restoration, provided that the task is assigned to the restorer design process and the adaptation is prevented from turning into an anthropogenic degradation, which may spoil the underlying architecture. A project of restoration has to involve the reintegration of a building in the usability circuit and/ or in the market, stopping the performance aspect from gaining the upper hand and the technical and functional efficiency from pushing the project away from the fundamental historical and artistic values.
Such brief excursus offers an overview on the juxtaposed and synergic system of interconnections typical of the relationship between restoration and technology, such as a diagnosis with minimum invasiveness and a plant adaptation of a historical home. They all express a particular aspect of such connection and are united by the essential respect for fundamental guiding criteria of restoration: distinctness, reversibility, minimum intervention, respect of authenticity.
The dyad restoration/technology encourages people to wonder how, but, in the case of restoration and its likely developments, the element of what should be considered. The new frontiers of the restoration will include new modern or contemporary architectures to be restored. Technologies and materials will completely differ from historical structures and the greater knowledge of building processes of production will be diminished by a scarce check both of durability of materials and of the restoration methods employed until now. Such technology, despite remaining one of the established methodologies of the discipline, may take unexpected developments. Biocement, for instance, is concrete sometimes mixed with endolithic bacteria, which, even nowadays, can self-repair micro-lesions of the structures. Such innovative material will certainly modify the maintenance and the durability of the building, still remaining employable in the restoration of reinforced concrete structures. Innovative technologies, which may be used on the damage of pre-existing works, including sealing mortars and liquid repair systems, are indeed being developed in parallel with the production of self-repairing cement where bacteria are added during the construction stage. Is this going to be the end of restoration? I don’t think so, but people will perhaps be able to restore Orion’s bastions damaged by B rays, near the Tannhäuser Gate.
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