History Preserved in Architectural Forms

February 12, 2014

When people question the need for preservation or restoration, there are a million examples of why these two processes produce exceptional results.

One big example is Rome, where every layer of earth produces a new layer of the past and every new structure must have a historical preservationist on the team to become a static part of the ever-changing ‘Eternal City.’

The historical significance of Rome, of all of Italy, cannot be summed up in a single paragraph but the importance of a place with so much history can never be doubted.

The next example, on a smaller scale, is the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. Henry Ford brought structures from all over the country so that history could be experienced by all different people in one single visit, one single place. Structures like Thomas Jefferson’s home, office and workshop where his inventions came to life, including the dirt it sat on, The Wright Brother’s home and their first flying machine and many other historical dwellings, each with its own unique story.

One place without the prestige of the others mentioned was an English, country cottage. A beautiful place that captured my attention and my heart, it was the first building I feel in love with and the first place I would love to call home. Henry Ford must have felt the same after visiting England and bringing back the entire structure to join the others at his home.

This museum is different than Rome because Rome is dedicated to preserving what remains of the past to study history, whereas the Henry Ford Museum has stopped time for each structure’s life so that visitors are part of history, no new layers will be added.

The final example, smallest of the three, but not any less of a remarkable restoration project, is Casa DD.

This structure at the hands of architects Balestra and Brocchini was saved and transformed. It was a home, once twice the size of what remains, that dates back to 1674BC. They kept as many of the original aspects as they could, such as the stonework, floors and roof structures, the building’s profile and the arched entryway. The inside has been completely redesigned and the external eternity pool is a beautiful addition.

Balestra and Brocchini wanted to restore the structure without destroying its history and were able to keep those qualities alive and were able to bring to life new modern qualities. This is truly a remarkable restoration project, a cool collaboration of past and present. Here history is alive, not stuck in a far away time.

When restoration and preservation are used to keep the spirit of a place alive, to allow people to experience in real time what can never be learned from a picture, then those two procedures are truly encouraged and needed.

Resources: Bistudio Architetti, Molto Deco and Archello

Pictures from Jennifer Shockley and Bistudio Architetti


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Jennifer Shockley

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and has recently moved back from Michigan. She is finishing up her Master’s degree in Architecture. She is currently focusing on urban planning and sustainable design and hopes to gain employment at a design firm specializing in these areas. Jennifer also has writing experience serving as an editor for her school newspaper and college magazine. Jennifer has two cats named Prada and Dior-aptly named after her shoe obsession. You can follow Jennifer on twitter @jenshock81.
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