The Theory and Practice of Restoration in England in the Second Half of the 19th Century: The Work of George E. Street


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The Romantic vision of ancient architecture, together with the evaluation of the said architecture as historical legacy, have contributed to the extensive path followed by the discipline of architectural restoration towards its consolidation as a scientific method along the 19th and the 20th century. During the Renaissance, when attention was turned to Classic Architecture, the study of the construction methods became the first germ for recognising the value of ancient architecture, in its many styles, as historical heritage. The scientific analysis that then took place in the 19th century, framed in the philosophical trend of Positivism, was also be reflected in architectural restoration: an appropriate intervention had to begin with learning about of the history of the construction. This can easily be understood considering that the term restoration includes many medieval constructions being completed or reconstructed introducing large additions or extensions, which were done taking as reference the use of traditional construction materials with their corresponding traditional technology and the study of agreements and manuscripts. These documents were unveiled by research, in parallel to the development of the formulation of a theoretical structural model, bearing in mind that, initially, masonry, timber and cast iron were the main construction materials, and their properties dictated the nature of structural forms (Charlton 1982). The debate about architectural restoration begun in the 19th century has gone on to history mainly thanks to names like Viollet-le-Duc, Ruskin, Morris or Pugin. However, behind these names, a series of prominent figures can be recognized. The group was comprised of individuals of all filiations who were developing and bringing together the theory and the scientific practice originated in the twilights of the 18th century in the newly established French Republic. The innumerable positions, schools, trends and declarations that have developed since then, have today a point in common: the valuation and the respect for ancient architectural monuments, a living testimony for learning about the societies who constructed them. The present work focuses on the figure of the Englishman George Edmund Street (1824-81), whose work is not as well known as that of some of his contemporaries named above, but is not less important for that reason. Street contributed to the restoration of many architectural monuments; his experience allowed him to device certain approaches to this discipline that yielded numerous restoration interventions, both inside and outside England. His work has not received as much attention as that of Butterfield, and his name is certainly not as well known as Scott's. Yet he has hardly been altogether forgotten (Hitchcock 1960).



Advanced Materials Research (Volumes 133-134)

Edited by:

Xianglin Gu and Xiaobin Song






F. López-Ulloa "The Theory and Practice of Restoration in England in the Second Half of the 19th Century: The Work of George E. Street", Advanced Materials Research, Vols. 133-134, pp. 1045-1050, 2010

Online since:

October 2010




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