Heritage Site Reconstruction
Garrett English and Jack Phillips
Heavily damaged heritage sites, while a tragedy and an affront to past generations, provide unique rebuilding opportunities that demand exceptional attention. This is to say then when we are confronted with a site that has been spoiled of its original pureness we have an obligation to recognize its history which includes the very near past that had damaged the site. One immediate reaction to often implored is the knee jerk reaction of cleansing the site of any damage-stricken objects. In doing so, however, we render the injustice of ignoring a greatly important, all be it a usually hostile time period. It seems that, because of our immediate reaction to horrific events, we want to erase the evidence of a period of pain or suffering. This, while done from good intensions, nonetheless is an affront to the memory of those who experienced such events. We see then that the only reasonable way in which we are to conduct ourselves as designers is to build with that which was under conflict. By bringing these elements forth we do that which was assigned to use. If we are to re-construct a devastated site that has intrinsic heritage value to it, we must be mindful not to forget that what was damaged was is now just a part of history as the original piece previous to it. If we begin to follow this ideal and build with a mindfulness of the context of our site, then we can best honor not only the past generation, but also the future ones to come. In contrast, we only serve our instant desires that disenfranchise us from those past and to come. By pushing this idea ahead we can participate responsibly in the reconstruction of world heritage sites. This is our duty, and should be our ultimate goal when working with such sites.
Wawel Royal Castle
Cracow,Poland, 11th-16th Century
The Wawel Royal Castle which is located in Cracow, Poland. The building’s origins trace back to the 11th century to a Romanesque stone structure whose footprint is still seen in the northern wing of the modern castle. A series of expansions and additions to the castle took place over the next several centuries under direction from various leaders up until the addition of a Gothic pavilion, known as the Danish Tower, at the beginning of the 15th century. The Gothic complex remained unchanged until its severe damage in 1499. The cause of this damage was a massive fire that swept through the main castle and surrounding buildings. This fire, while leading to destruction of one of Poland’s most significant buildings in fact provided a great opportunity for it to be built in a, at the time, revolutionary new style. The king that ordered the reconstruction had spent significant time in a court that employed a small group of artisans pioneering the Renaissance movement and he was inspired to reconstruct the castle with this new style of architecture. The outer walls were kept, since they remained intact and the nearly complete reconstruction of the interior took place from there. The exterior of the castle keeps its appearance of a heavy, masonry building in Gothic style. The courtyard is the best example on the interior of the structure where the modern, post destruction Renaissance style is seen but with slight hints to its Gothic past. The building shows how the fire allowed for the aging, Gothic style building to be reinvigorated in the style of Italian Renaissance architecture while also still showing its traditional Polish Gothic architectural roots.
Paris,France, 16th-19th, Philibert de I’Orme
The Tuileries Palace and its garden are located in Paris, France. It was originally designed by Philibert de I’Orme under direction from Queen Catherine de Medicis in 1564; however, the construction of the palace up until its destruction took centuries when including the numerous, significant additions that took place. Approximately 50 years after the construction was abandoned King Henry IV completed the first phase of construction on the palace and the Grand Gallery which linked the Tuileries to the Louvre Palace. These buildings all were built in the Renaissance architectural style and featured steeply pitched roofs and relatively thin, tall buildings. The linking of the two palaces created a central courtyard that would be the area in which the Tuileries gardens would be laid out by Louis XIV. This king resided here for only a short while though, while Versailles was being constructed and upon its completion left Tuileries Palace and the building was once again abandoned, with only the gardens being used as a fashionable resort of Parisians. During the French Revolution Louis XVI and the rest of the royal family were forced out of Versailles and kept under surveillance in the Tuileries Palace for the next 2 years. The use of the palace by the royal family and revolutionaries continued in off and on phases for the next several years until Napoleon Bonaparte came to power in 1799. He made Tuileries the imperial palace during his reign and in 1808 began construction the northern gallery which would have joined the Tuileries to the Louvre on the other side of the gardens and enclosed the space, making it off limits to the public. The Tuileries Palace was also redecorated in the Neoclassical Empire style during Napoleon’s reign which meant that it featured a simpler construction method utilizing timber frame construction, but extremely lavish veneers of rich woods and gold with a high level of craftsmanship on display in its ornamentation. The palace was again stormed by an angry mob in the Revolution of 1848 and an extensive refurbishment of the palace took place following the damage. The northern gallery was finally completed linking the Tuileries and the Louvre and the huge complex of the Louvre-Tuileries palace whose master plan had been conceived 3 centuries earlier was finally completed. The monumental construction of the palace complex was completed, but the overall completion with all finishes and ornamentation would never be completed because of the fire that would take place during the Paris Commune in 1871. The fire lasted for 48 hours and completely destroyed the interior of the palace and the gardens within its walls. The palace sat as a shell then for the next 11 years, although the roof and interior were destroyed, the stone outer walls remained intact and would have been able to be restored. The upper class and nobles of France fully supported the restoration of the palace to its original decadence, but the people of the country refused because they saw the palace as a symbol of the excessive wealth of the monarchy and as a symbol of the old republic, which they had fought to drive from power. As a result the palace was demolished in 1883 for a sum of 400,000 francs and the area was opened as a public garden. The courtyard was restored; following the original plan of the garden from 1664 with the axis connect the Louvre and footprint of the Tuileries palace left in place. The palace itself was removed completely with only the footprint of the palace marked by stone pavers and a small plaque. The area today serves as one of Paris’ most popular public spaces with the once private garden and palace grounds that were enclosed by Napoleon now reopened and accessible to all. The Tuileries palace is an excellent example of a lavish heritage site that was not reconstructed as the building itself, but the history of the palace and how it was viewed by the people serving as the reasoning behind its destruction. The opening of the grounds as a public garden that followed the original plans of the palace garden, but leaving the palace with almost no recognition clearly states the intentions behind its demolition and new purpose as public space.
Dresden, Germany, 20th Century, George Bahr
The Dresden frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady in Dresden, Germany was first constructed in 1743 by the architect George Bähr after a Baroque style church. In 1945 during an Allied bombing raid the building was destroyed by 650,000 carpet bombs leaving the alter and chancel as the only standing parts of the building left. Though scorched by fire, these bricks stood for almost half a century before any restoration occurred. But these burnt bricks received new life in 1994 when the first foundation stones were re-laid. The bricks from the ruins of the Dresden frauenkirche where first cataloged, measured, and cleaned before the building process. This being because the architects did not want to build in such a way that ignored what had for so long occupied the streets of Dresden. Instead they inlayed over 8,500 original charred masonry blocks within the exterior façade of the building, lending to the past, but building to a future. The chancel, the largest part of the remaining original structure, was closely documented, cleaned and restored in the same way that it was built. By keeping this eastern apse, the building was able to root itself back into its historical context while at the same time recognizing what had transpired on the site, and how it had built to a more positive future. The architecture of this load baring masonry walled building with a large central dome allowed for the usage of many of the original blocks on the exterior façade, which had been modernized with new construction techniques to increase its durability. However, unfortunately, none of the original dome pieces were able to be reused to construct the new dome and cupola of the church. This, nonetheless, didn’t stop the construction of a replication of the dome structure. The church now serves as a memorial and a active church that caters to tourists, with over 7 million visitors since its recompletion. The site has inspired other countries to pursue reconstruction of their own heritage sites.
The Dresden Frauenkirche, while most closely recognizing the damage and also rebuilding around it does have shortcomings in that it the building was rebuilt as it originally was and new architectural styles and modernization were not seen as options during reconstruction since it was seen to serve as a memorial. The Tuileries Palace clearly states the purpose of its deconstruction and reconfiguration, but in this process of making a statement a great architectural treasure was lost as a result. The public grounds created still recognize the original garden planning, but the magnificent building is lost. To this day there are still talks of reconstructing the palace at enormous cost to the public because it is seen as so monumental in France’s history, but we believe that despite the fact the palace was destroyed this thought that it should be reconstructed misses that point that those who demolished it sought to establish, that is that architecture should be public when the source behind its funding is public. Each of these heritage sites deals with the destruction and subsequent reconstruction in a different way because each site is located in a different setting and the destruction of each took place in different contexts. The Wawel Castle provided an opportunity for the royal residence to reconstruct itself using a new architectural style, while keeping the past building that was so important in Poland’s history intact. Contrasting this desire to keep a significant royal building, the Tuileries palace fire and planned demolition was done to destroy a relic of old monarchy and repurpose the site using the original garden plan but making it a public space, rather than that of the ruling class that was so despised in France. Most recently, the Dresden Frauenkirche was reconstructed to remind those that experience it of the past horrors that it witnessed and to serve as a memorial, more than a modern space. Heritage sites that have been heavily damaged and reconstructed to recognize the past should also be progressive in the new additions and should serve a new or modified function while still showcasing the past architecture and context of the building both in the present and past.
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