What We Want to Restore?

According to Brandi, only the material form can be restored. Restoration is an act of intervention, which inevitably will result in any kind of alterations. In the first class we talked about fabric and values. Therefore, if we merely want to restore the subject’s fabric, then it’s very likely that the best and most reasonable solution is to perform sensible restoration properly based on systematic research in order to recover it to its most possibly original state. But if what we want to restore is the subject’s values, then things will become really complicated. Different people seek for different qualities associated with the subject. For those who are obsessed with the trace of time passage, they would like to see the subject stay untouched, displaying the irreplaceable beauty as Ruskin described. However, some people come to the subject to search for a complete experience or a sense of unity. Under this situation, we should aim to reestablish the subject’s potential unity.

I feel that before we attempt to judge any action or practice, we should first examine and understand its essential purpose or underlying cause and motivation behind it. I firmly believe that there is no absolutely wrong or bad practice, no matter what we choose to do, tearing down, reconstruction, restoration or doing nothing, as long as it can be justified. Every practice can fit in certain case in specific time and space.

Historical preservation as a field of profession, in its development history, there are many heated debates over controversial problems involving diverse arguments and multiple standpoints. The deeper you delve into this profession, the more likely you will find that decision making lies at the core of it. I think it’s fine for us to have a variety of voices, choices and solutions. After all, it is impossible for us to select or invent a universal treatment, theory or principle which can be applied in all situations, solve all problems. That’s not what we should try to achieve, we just want to practice historic preservation based on more comprehensive and rational considerations.

So, I think it’s much more important and meaningful for us to think about why we restore or what we want to restore than simply argue or concern about whether or not we should restore.

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