50 Times Architects Put In The Effort To Make Something Extra Special And Succeeded
Is there a moment in history you wish you could experience? The world is full of beautiful old historical buildings that connect us to the past, but too many are lost to decay or thoughtless development. Restoration can give us glimpses into what they might have looked like decades or centuries ago.
The /r/Saved_Architecture subreddit collects architectural success stories. Their before-and-after photos document the work talented architects’ and tradesmen do to preserve architectural history. Some of the buildings are worn down by neglect and time, while others are revealed from beneath facades installed to hide their former beauty. The old buildings’ scars can even tell us stories - of wars, demographic changes, economic decline, or changing tastes.
Restoration is a difficult and subtle trade. Ancient materials or processes may no longer be available, and neither are the buildings’ plans. Architects may have to use old photographs or even first-hand historical accounts as clues to discover an old building’s design.
Whatever the case, we are lucky to witness these restored slices of the past. Scroll down to vote for your favorite saved architecture restorations or add one you’ve seen in your own town or city.
The Bourse Of Antwerp (Antwerp Stock Exchange)- The World's First Purpose-Built Commodity Exchange. Built In 1531 And Restored In 2019
14th Century Building, Droitwich, UK. Built In 1320, Covered And Further Covered In The 18th, 19th And 20th Centuries. Restored And Saved In 2017
There is an unfortunate trend for cities and their governments to misunderstand or ignore the value of their architectural heritage. This attitude was summed up at the University of Genoa’s conservation workshop:
“Valuable monuments, sites and landscapes are being threatened increasingly by largescale or uncontrolled developments of the built environment, not taking into account in any way their established and potential assets for the future development of that built environment. Is our architectural heritage becoming marginal or even irrelevant [...]? The answer is indeed no, if at least we manage to convince society – and its policy-makers – of these values of historical buildings, sites and landscapes;...”
Are there beautiful old buildings in your area that you think are at risk of crumbling to oblivion or being torn down for new development?
Just A Quickly Reminder How A Decent Renovation Should Look Like(Warsaw, Poland)
The Old Manufactury Of Lodz, Poland
Schofield Building, Cleveland, USA. Built In 1902, Facade Panelled Over In The 60s And Restored In 2017 To Its Original Design
It’s one thing to design and build a modern building and quite another to renovate one built using historical designs, techniques and materials. The restoration of a building doesn’t just restore the building itself, it also helps to restore some of the traditional crafts and trades that went into that building’s creation.
Here are just a few of the unique trades that could be involved in the authentic restoration of a historical building:
- Thatching to create and maintain authentic rural roofing;
- Gilding to restore a glorious royal building;
- Carpentry to build strong structures and beautiful doors and windows;
- Blacksmithing to create structural supports and decorations;
- Stoneworking for everything from structural arches to sculptural ornamentation.
Some of these trades could be at risk of disappearing if not for heritage architecture conservation! You’ll also spot some of these tradespeople’s handiwork throughout this list, so keep scrolling.
La Samaritaine, A "Grand Magasin" Of Paris Is Going To Reopen After 15 Years Of Massive Restoration Work
Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus In Leipzig/Germany - Built 1898-1901, Reconstructed In 2018
The Changing Face Of St Bartholomew-The-Great's Gatehouse In Smithfield, Which Was Built In 1595 And Some Point Bricked Over. It Was Bombed During A Ww1 Zeppelin Raid Knocking Off Some Bricks Revealing Its Tudor Half-Timbered Facade. It Was Restored To How It Looks Today. 1916 vs. Now
A Historic Building In Tbilisi, Georgia
Villa "Anna" In Konstancin-Jeziorna Near Warsaw, Poland. Built In 1904 And Renovated In 2021
At the same time, shortages of the skilled trades required for conservation and restoration can make this a difficult and expensive endeavor. In an analysis of Malaysian conservation efforts, academics note: “Due to lack of conservation skills for the repair and maintenance of historic architecture, it was discovered that about 60% of conservation and maintenance of historic buildings are done by inexpert and inexperienced workers resulting in 50% of the problems that emerged thereafter (Kayan, 2003; Fidler, 2005). [...] [The] conservation of such historic buildings is discouraged by the lack of manpower to facilitate good maintenance.”
If you’ve been thinking about a career change, how about training as a stonemason, carpenter, or blacksmith? There’s a beautiful building out there that needs you!
Laurietta Farmhouse, Fayette, Mississippi. Built In 1825 And Restored In 2014
Green Gate, Gdańsk, Poland. Beautifully Restored Along With The Majority Of Gdańsk Old Town After Ww2
Despite the many risks and challenges, it’s clear that restoring heritage buildings provides us all with incalculable benefits. In many cities, national museums, train stations, marketplaces, and even old factories can transform into local hubs where people can marvel at the beauty of the past. What’s your favorite restored historic building where you live?