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Edge, Surface and Lining

Lee, SJ (2014) Edge, Surface and Lining. In: REHAB 2014 - Proceedings of the International Conference on Preservation, Maintenance and Rehabilitation of Historical Buildings and Structures, Tomar, Portugal, 19-21 March. Green Lines Institute, pp. 245-254. ISBN 978-989-8734-01-3 (In Press)

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Abstract

For more than twenty years, the question of how to intervene in sensitive historic settings has been the preoccupation of the Continuity in Architecture Unit at Manchester School of Architecture. Projects in multiple European urban settings as diverse as Venice, Manchester, Cartmel, Dubrovnik, Preston and Antwerp have yielded productive, stimulating approaches to the task of maintaining cultural, material, social and spiritual continuity. But there is a constant need to reinvigorate the approach. It is in facing the realities of climate change that the work has taken on a new urgency, since the technical demands on historic structures are ever increasing, particularly in the light of an inexorably slow process of replacing our ageing building stock. Scarpa’s articulated tectonic lamination - a deliberative approach to the architectural detail (exemplified by the Castellvecchio Museum in Verona) offers one half of the proposition. The other half is provided by Bloomer’s survey of the meaning and intention of ornament (‘The Nature of Ornament’, 2000), and in particular, through the concept of metamorphosis and the role it plays in highlighting edges and interstices to elevate beauty to utility. The thread common to both is the resurgence of craft as an intelligent and intelligible activity. With a predilection for extending the idea of continuity (cf Machado’s ‘Old Buildings as Palimpsest’ (1976)) a process of refurbishment and technical upgrading that has architectural integrity comes into view. Edge Surface & Lining Page 3 of 18 In other words, the means to achieving an appropriate ‘bauphysik’ solution in historic fabric that is rigorous, expressive and clear is made possible by the co-opting of decorative, architectonic and philosophical means. This is wholly consistent with the pedagogic agenda of Continuity in Architecture, as well as the demands of contemporary architectural praxis in a heritage setting. Work from practice and teaching is used to illustrate this measured approach.

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