Castles are ancient structures, built a long time ago and enhanced by additions over the centuries as part of a gradual process of growth, characterized by a succession of architectural styles and decorations that have turned each castle into a uniquely complex building with a great variety of charms. Very often, castles have been subject to deterioration or conversion work that have weakened their ability to evoke and bear witness to the important events through which they have lived and which have formed our civilisation.
They often need restoration work, which must be carefully studied, planned and carried out.
Restoration is always a rather delicate moment. First of all because it is rather a traumatic experience for a monument. It has to be put back in order, repairing the damage that neglect or some traumatic event has caused to the building; or the effects of past work of a disfiguring or destructive nature have to be removed. In all cases, work has to be done on the building to remove signs of damage or incongruous additions, or to reveal more authentic features of the monument. Every decision relating to restoration, consolidation or removal must be based on strict criteria, such as:
- transparency: every addition of new components required for reasons of structural stability or for the installation of necessary technological equipment, or to repair features that are damaged or lost but reliably documented, must be indicated in a discrete way to distinguish the original part from the new or restored part;
- reversibility: all work carried out must avoid having any destructive effects on existing structures and must be removable in case of need or of change in requirements or in cultural strategy;
- authenticity: whenever work needs to be carried out on existing structures, the same materials and the same techniques as those used for the old structures must be adopted; this is for both technical reasons – since new materials grafted onto traditional materials may react differently and sometimes cause damage, and for obvious reasons of respecting the nature of the monument;
- conservation: sizes, forms, structures and colours must be preserved in order to avoid any modification of the monument through modernisation that leads to an increase in size, the rough insertion of non traditional materials or the use of colouring not consistent with the old colours or which clashes with the surroundings.
In order to ensure that these principles are complied with, the Consortium is constantly working to promote and provide information about them.
The principles are described in the booklet “Criteri per il restauro dell’architettura fortificata” (Criteria for the restoration of fortified architecture) in the Consortium’s Documentation Series.