1st Edition

Time Matter(s): Invention and Re-Imagination in Built Conservation The Unfinished Drawing and Building of St. Peter's, the Vatican

By Federica Goffi Copyright 2013
    286 Pages
    by Routledge

    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    Even though the idea of altering an existing building is presently a well established practice within the context of adaptive reuse, when the building in question is a 'mnemonic building', of recognized heritage value, alterations are viewed with suspicion, even when change is a recognized necessity. This book fills in a blind spot in current architectural theory and practice, looking into a notion of conservation as a form of invention and imagination, offering the reader a counter-viewpoint to a predominant western understanding that preservation should be a 'still shot' from the past. Through a micro-historical study of a Renaissance concept of restoration, a theoretical framework to question the issue of conservation as a creative endeavor arises. It focuses on Tiberio Alfarano's 1571 ichnography of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, into which a complex body of religious, political, architectural and cultural elements is woven. By merging past and present temple's plans, he created a track-drawing questioning the design pursued after Michelangelo’s death (1564), opening the gaze towards other possible future imaginings. This book uncovers how the drawing was acted on by Carlo Maderno (1556-1629), who literally used it as physical substratum to for new design proposals, completing the renewal of the temple in 1626. Proposing a hybrid architectural-conservation approach, this study shows how these two practices can be merged in contemporary renovation. By creating hybrid drawings, the retrospective and prospective gaze of built conservation forms a continuous and contiguous reality, where a pre-existent condition engages with future design rejoining multiple temporalities within continuity of identity. This study might provide a paradigmatic and timely model to retune contemporary architectural sensibility when dealing with the dilemma between design and preservation when transforming a building of recognized significance.

    Contents: Preface; Prologue: notes on the ontology of remaking mnemic buildings; Introduction to a micro-historical study of the renovation of St Peter’s basilica in the Vatican, (1506-1626); Architecture’s twinned body: building and drawing; ’Hallowed configuration’: the mediating role of architectural representation in built conservation; Stratigraphic drawings and the drawings of members: assembling the exquisite corpse; Restoring the corporate body: heteroglossia versus unity of style; Framing the icon. Skin-deep conservation versus the imagination of built conservation; Time matter(s). The sempiternal nature of built conservation; The role of ambiguity and the unfinished in defining built conservation; Bibliography; Index.


    Dr Federica Goffi, Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism, Carleton University, Canada.

    ’Time Matter(s) is a unique and timely scholarly study of Tiberio Alfarano’s mysterious drawing of St Peter’s Basilica from the late 16th century, examining the work in the context of the temporality of building conveyed through the symbolic inter-relationships between the old and new basilicas. The drawing is unique in simultaneously depicting the building as both a ’receptacle’ of memory (in regard to the historical developments and adaptations of the original Constantinian basilica) and as an anticipatory expression of the completed new basilica, which at the time was still under construction. Understood more as a sacred artifact than a mere drawn depiction, the representation reveals much about the relationship between conserving the past and creating a new architectural order, which the author examines with great acumen and scholarly insight. At the same time, the author argues that the artifact provides a rich and fertile source of ideas about broader issues of building conservation today, providing a critical point of reference for re-evaluating the nature and meaning of historical and cultural continuity as a problem of architectural representation. The book would be of interest to both practitioners and academics, challenging conventional assumptions of an unmediated relationship between history and creativity that has become endemic in architectural conservation today.’ Nicholas Temple, University of Huddersfield, UK ’This book is a ground-breaking event in the field and deals with materials that for some strange and unclear reasons have been completely overlooked in both the history of St. Peter’s and within theories of historic conservation. The backbone of the book, the analysis of the Tiberio Alfarano’s artifact is very exhaustive and far-reaching in singling out the cultural interaction between representations and buildings. The evaluation of Alfarano’s unique facture is done with very sophisticated sensorial procedures and it wi