{ critical preservation }


The 1964 Venice Charter, setting guidelines for the conservation and restoration of monuments states that ‘replacements of missing parts must integrate harmoniously with the whole, but at the same time must be distinguishable from the original so that restoration does not falsify the artistic or historic evidence’.

The debate around authenticity in mainstream preservation presents two different, opposing views: does authenticity lie in the architect’s design or, instead, in the original stones that served the construction? We in turn consider that the building interacts with its environment, materially but also socially and that these interactions are part of its narratives. Rather than an abstract image once conceived, we prefer to see Casa del Mutilato as a dynamic palimpsest of events marked in the materiality of the building by things that were not originally planned or built but are still part of the history of the building.

In the face of a narrative of the loss, critical preservation would suggest the narrative of replacement. If the loss of the missing part inscribes itself in a particular moment in time, the replacement inscribes itself in another, leading to an overlay of narratives and temporalities. How can we express both the absence of the lost part and the anachronistic presence of the replacing part, the ‘prosthesis’?
Instead of replicating the original, a critical preservation would prefer to inject a piece of the present, regardless of the ‘authentic’ image of the building as it was conceived and in spite of losing its integrity and monumentality.

As time goes by, Casa del Mutilato would be a collage of different materials that each account for different moments of the building’s history, making it a living object that absorbs the process of time. The absence, the ‘missing part’, at first seen as a subtraction, can thus be the place for a creative process, an opportunity to constantly reify the present.


Nadia El Hakim