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EAUH Conference 2018

Sessions

Session SS31. Reinventing the old. The historicist Revival Between XIXth and XXth Centuries and the Image of Cities: Reconstructions, Renovations, Reinventions.

Coordinators: Paola Lanaro (isabella.cecchini@gmail.com)

In the course of the urban renovation crossing with different outcomes the European territory from the second half of the eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth, the issue of reconstructing and rebuilding in historicist style becomes more and more evident. Famous example include the restoring works theorized and put into practice by Viollet Le Duc in France or Camillo Boito in Italy, but also the restoration of interiors of late antique and medieval churches that wipes away any subsequent decorations and altars (usually pertaining to the Baroque period), or the spreading of the eclectic style. Renovations, and in many instances reconstructions, of buildings with the employ of a previous architectural style follow different paths in different contexts, and their outcomes greatly differ. Verona offers an emblematic case study: the so-called House of Juliet Capuleti, which renders its host city one of the most visited in Italy, is actually a pastiche owed to the Director of the Public Museums in Verona from 1915 to 1955, Antonio Avena, who tried to re-create the material city Shakespeare invented; Avena took also the initiative to piece together the Museo di Castelvecchio using medieval architectural elements from destroyed palaces.
This session aims to analyse and compare case studies of buildings which went into reconstruction, rebuilding or reinvention according to an architectural style that drew on the past, and to assess their impact on the image of the city or of the part of the town where they were located. One of the issue of concern is the perception of urban spaces affected by the historicist revival, and its connection with the rising concern about tourism. Another issue is cost: is it possible to assemble the costs of reconstructions? If revivals could tend as it seems towards more expensive buildings, for which reason were they preferred? Which was their added value, apart from aesthetics? This conference session intends to compare case studies from Italy and Europe, and possibly to stretch over non-European cases too, trying to connect the use of architectural past to the perception (be it turistic or generally cultural) of the cities that rebuilded this same past.
Keywords: historicist revival; perception of the city; tourism and travel; restoration