September 28, 2010

Preservation: Facadism.

'facadism' in Hamburg

‘Facadism’ is a growing practice of developers and architects to retain only the existing facade of historic buildings. The structure is demolished but the face of a building stays intact. The original architecture is reduced to its most superficial elements - the facade. In the most radical form of ‘Facadism’ only the front elevation is maintained. Usually a radical change in the building’s architectural program and/or economic interests justify the method. ‘Facadism’ is a controversial balancing act between the demand for city renovation and people’s desire for preservation.

The ICOMOS Charters of Venice (International Council on Monuments and Sites) points out that “A monument is inseparable from the history to which it bears witness and from the setting in which it occurs. The moving of all or part of a monument cannot be allowed except where the safeguarding of that monument demands it or where it is justified by national or international interest of paramount importance.
facadism = decorated shed? (from Venturi/Scott Brown - Learning from Las Vegas)

‘Facadism’ seems to be a too simple way of dealing preservation issues in architecture. It should be declined when only commercial interests lead to the destruction of quality interior spaces.

['Facadism' in German means 'Entkernung'. See the Novotel Hotel designed by A. Krischanitz (built by Atelier Hayde) as example of 'facadism' in Vienna, Austria.]

Novotel, by A. Krischanitz, image by Novotel, apparently the building was not published on Krischanitz's website