Architectural conservation aims to preserve, restore, and reconstruct damaged, decayed, and no longer extant buildings. This purpose entails that architectural conservation is constantly facing absence: a physical absence, when material parts are missing from a building, and an intangible one, when the physical absence stands for a missing people or culture. The role of preservationist interventions is to make all these absences present. This paper deals with the relationship of absence and presence in preservation practices. By examining several preservation processes, it aims to show the implicit and explicit ways in which absences are made present and also how the very task of making absences present may alter or even distort the absences’ meaning. Depending on how each kind of preservationist intervention deals with absence, one can find reasons to prefer certain interventions over others. It can also be seen how the very process of restoring the past is simultaneously a corruptive one and how these preservationist procedures affect our aesthetic experience of such buildings.
Capdevila-Werning, Remei. “Constructing the Absent — Preservation and Restoration of Architecture.” Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics, vol. 5, 2013, pp. 163–77.
Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics