Restauro scientifico

In 1910, on the occasion of the exhibition of measured drawings by members of the Associazione artistica fra i cultori di architet-tura, the newly nominated president, Gustavo Giovannoni (1873-1947), drew attention to the significance of 'minor architecture' in providing continuity to the urban fabric in a historic city, and this was to become an important theme in his activities as a planner of Rome. He was the director of the school of architecture in Rome from 1927 to 1935, and was instrumental in the creation of an independent faculty for architecture, where he taught restoration of historic monuments from 1935 to 1947. Through his teaching and writings Giovannoni consolidated the modern Italian conservation principles, emphasizing the critical, scientific approach, and thus providing a basis for 'restauro scientificd ('scientific restoration'). This policy was applied not only to 'monuments', but also to historic buildings in general, and even initiated a new approach to historic urban areas.

The principles of Joseph Hermann Stübben (1845-1936), who in his Der Städtebau (1890) proposed that a modern city should be developed over the existing historic city taking advantage of the existing conditions, resulted in Rome in further cuttings and new road lines as in the master-plan of 1908. Giovannoni took a critical attitude to these proposals from 1913. He saw a conflict between two concepts that required different approaches, i.e., life and history. One meant meeting the requirements of modern development and modern life, and the other meant respect for the historic and artistic values and the environment of old cities. He was convinced that the 'minor archi tecture' represented the populace and their ambitions better than the important, glorious palaces. In Rome, much research was carried out on the history and typology of the fabric of the Quartiere del Rinascimento (the Renaissance Quarter), and he stressed the fact that a town developed through time, and different styles were introduced in different periods. Like Camillo Sitte (Sitte, 1889), Giovannoni emphasized visual and picturesque values, and sudden surprises by the contrast between sumptuous palaces and 'minor architecture', 'the architectural prose', which needed to be meticulously studied.

In this period of Futurism and Function-alistic planning ideals, Giovannoni often stood alone in the defence of historic towns. In order to find a compromise, he formed a theory for the respectful modernization of historic areas, called 'diradamento edilizio' ('thinning-out' of urban fabric) (Giovannoni, 1913). It meant keeping major traffic outside these areas, avoiding new streets being cut into them, improving the social and hygienic conditions and conserving historic buildings. To reach this, he suggested the demolition of less important structures in order to create space for necessary services.22 Giovannoni was consulted about the revision of the 1908 master-plan of Rome, as well as about masterplans in other towns - Venice, Bari and Bergamo - where the concept of diradamento

Figure 8.2 Via del Mare in Rome was created in the 1930s by demolishing mediaeval housing and restoring selected ancient monuments, thus causing an urban space without clear form

was introduced. Although the idea sounded a reasonable compromise, the method was not always easily applied, and, even in the best cases, the newly opened areas lacked architectural character.

In the Fascist Era, Mussolini identified himself with the ancient Roman emperors and, while demolishing the 'mediaeval slums', he desired to have ancient classical monuments displayed, such as Trajan's Market, the Imperial Fora, Via dei Fori Imperiali (1924), the Arch of Janus, the temples of Fortuna Virilis and Vesta, and the Theatre of Marcellus, forming Via del Mare where the church of Santa Rita was removed to a new site (1932). The excavations and restorations were carried out under the direction of Soprintendente Antonio Muñoz (1884-1960), who was responsible for most works on ancient monuments during Mussolini's time according to established principles. The area of Largo Argentina, with four Republican temples, was excavated in 1928, and the area around the Augusteum, where the recently discovered Ara Pacis was placed under a special cover, in 1931-32. New streets were opened, such as the Via della Conciliazione in front of St Peter's for which the ancient Borgo was demolished, 1936-1950. As a result of these operations, Rome acquired a modern outlook, but it was still successful in keeping its historic skyline, and avoiding high-rise buildings.

Apart from working on planning issues, Giovannoni was a member of the Consiglio superiore delle Belle Arti, and of various commissions, for over twenty-five years. He collaborated with state authorities and municipalities in the restoration of historic buildings. Giovannoni distinguished himself from the previous Italian theorists in his approach to restoration as a cultural problem of evaluation, and the rehabilitation of historic buildings with respect to all significant periods -instead of reconstructing them to their ideal form. He considered Viollet-le-Duc's theory 'anti-scientific', causing falsifications and arbitrary interventions, presuming the building to be created by a single architect in one period, and presupposing in the architect-restorer and the builders the capacity to understand the monument in its vicissitudes and in its style which they do not feel any more (Giovannoni, 1945b:28).

Considering the use of modern architectural forms in historic buildings, as had been customary until neo-Classicism, he believed that this had not been successful in modern times due to the lack of a proper modern style, and the lack of sensitivity in using this. His concepts matured along the lines of Boito, finding a full expression in Questioni di Architettura nella storia e nella vita (1929). He placed emphasis on maintenance, repair and consolidation, and in the last case, if neces

Figure 8.3 The so-called Vesta Temple (on the left) was restored by Valadier in the early nineteenth century, the so-called Temple of Fortune by A. Muñoz c. 1932. Both temples are in the area of Via del Mare

sary, could also accept the use of modern technology. The aim was essentially to preserve the authenticity of the structure, and respect the whole 'artistic life' of the monument, not only the first phase. Any modern additions should be dated and considered rather as an integration of the mass than an ornament, as well as being based on absolutely sure data. He presented these principles at the International Congress in Athens, in 1931, contributing to the formulation of the Conclusions of the Congress, the so-called 'Athens Charter'. Returning to Rome, he prepared an Italian charter, Norme per il restauro dei monumenti, which was approved by the Direction of Antiquities and Fine Arts in December of the same year, and published officially in January 1932. Comparing the spirit of the principles with those of Boito, where the monument was conceived primarily as a historic document, he presented a much broader approach including architectural aspects, the historical context, the environment and the use of the building. Later, looking back at the Charter, he thought it comparable with a treatise of medicine and surgery facing clinical cases.

Giovannoni identified four types of restoration (1936: xxix,127):

1. restoration by consolidation;

2. restoration by recomposition (anastylosis);

3. restoration by liberation; and

4. restoration by completion or renovation.

He agreed with Boito that it would be best if restorations were not visible, and that this could be achieved with modern methods and technology, grouting with cement, or using metal or invisible reinforced concrete structures as a safeguard against earthquakes. He insisted, however, that modernity should not be so excessive as to make the building suffer. While not approving stylistic restoration, he could accept the removal of the bell towers from the Pantheon, the demolition of the later structures from the Parthenon, the restoration of the Maison Carrée of Nîmes, and the restoration of the Curia in the Roman Forum as the significance of what was discovered was far greater than what was lost. While agreeing with the 'Lamp of Life' of Ruskin, and the impossibility of reproduction of older archi tecture, he maintained (as did Boito) that modern buildings, since the sixteenth century, were built with such perfect technology that reproduction was easier. Although Giovan-noni, at times, showed some ambiguity, he should be seen in the context of his time. Professor Carlo Ceschi, a restoration architect and teacher after the Second World War, has insisted that the history of modern restoration cannot ignore the presence of Gustavo Giovannoni (Ceschi, 1970:114).

Another leading personality in the period of Giovannoni was Gino Chierici (1877-1961), professor of restoration in Naples and of history of architecture in Milan, as well as an active restoration architect in Tuscany and Campania. His principles were based on scientific methods of analysis and a strict respect of history (Carbonara, 1997:253f). A significant example of his work on ancient monuments is the conservation and consolidation of the remains of the abbey of San Galgano, carried out rigorously a la inglese (1923). He worked on the consolidation of the cathedral of Pienza, which had been built over a fault in the ground, and risked the detachment of the apsis from the rest of the building. The problem had existed ever since the construction in the fifteenth century, and has been subject to other works later in the twentieth century. In Naples, Chierici restored the fourteenth-century church of Santa Maria Donnaregina (1928-34) which had suffered drastic changes in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. The restoration consisted in the removal of various later structures, the reconstruction of the space of the apsis, and the restoration of the important mediaeval mural paintings. Currently, the building offers premises to the school of restoration of the University of Naples.

In 1938 the Ministry published a further series of instructions to complete the norms of 1932. These were prepared by a group of experts amongst whom were Giovannoni and Guglielmo De Angelis d'Ossat (1907-92), the future Director General of Antiquities and Fine Arts, and founder of the school for the study and restoration of historic buildings, at the University of Rome, who became one of the principal partners in the development of international training courses at ICCROM. In the instructions, special emphasis was laid on administrative aspects, regular maintenance and timely repairs, a methodical and immediate conservation of archaeological sites and finds, the necessity of conservation in situ, and the conservation and respect of urban areas having historic and artistic values. Furthermore, it was proposed to forbid categorically building 'in historic styles' even in areas that had no specific monumental or landscape interest. In the following year, 1939, Italy received a new law on the conservation of 'objects of historic and artistic interest', as well as another law for the protection of sites of natural beauty.

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