About the centre
The aim of creating this centre is a necessity to combine research of an architectural monument, design work, restoration work and training of specialists-artisans in the respective professions.
A modern architect drawing a line on the design has a clear idea of the materials, technologies, corresponding technique, equipment which are to be used and of the specialists with professional skills who can fulfil the work. But for all that all architectural, structural, engineering and technological problems are solved at the design stage. In restoration it is not the case.
- firstly, a full-case investigation of the architectural monument, collection and study of archival materials
- secondly, creation of a conception and a draft
- thirdly, restoration work itself under constant architectural supervision.
The fact is that at the design stage neither construction elements, nor technologies of the restoration work, nor the final restoration project are often known. And for restoration it is not an exception of the rule, but the rule itself.
In restoration you can count on serious results only in such a case when there is a whole structure not with one outstanding architect-restorer or carpenter, but with a whole group of professionals speaking one language and working in accordance with the same principles. If you invite an outstanding restorer to the repair organization, there will be no result. It has been tested more than once.
Restoration practice has shown that neglecting of historical technologies in the restoration process leads to the loss of many, if not all qualities of a building as a historic monument of architecture. Today we know a lot of examples, when as a result of restoration using only modern building technologies we receive something unexpected: neither an architectural monument nor a modern building. Instead of it there is a kind of a new “freak” – a cross between a restorer’s idea of the historic structure with modern repair and a plain new building. And it completely contradicts the principle of restoration as a process which is to preserve the material culture as much as possible.
To avoid it, it is necessary to study and restore ancient handicrafts with all peculiar technologies and tooling and to train modern specialists-restorers. Besides, in some cases one cannot refuse to use modern technologies, equipment and materials, for example, in such matters as conservation and adaptation of a monument.
The idea of creating the centre has arisen not on one day and it was not devised in the office. There are no definite methods of restoration. The basis for it is formed only by its main principle: to preserve the material culture as much as possible. To do it we need a whole group of professionals applying a comprehensive approach to the restoration process. When designing and work are divided, the whole part – technology – is falling out from the restoration process, because there is no feedback: work – designer.
In former times there were several large institutions in Moscow (SPEZPROYEKTRESTAVRAZIYA, Central Research and Restoration Workshops and their branches) which made projects all over the USSR. Architects and engineers went to regions to survey monuments. Research officers of these institutions studied archival materials. Then in the institute they made a project and gave it to the production workers who worked as they could. And nobody studied building units, tools and technologies. Understanding of the delusiveness of such practice led to an idea to combine designing and production works into a single whole.
Further development has also been prompted by practice: when a person comes to get a job, I ask him if he can work with an axe. He gives a positive answer and even shows a diploma. But in practice it turns out that his skills are very primitive and they are insufficient to participate in the restoration work. And thus an idea to train restoration professions has arisen.
Practice has shown that training only in trade is not sufficient, it is necessary also to study theoretical and general courses, such as history of architecture, design, drawing, modern and historical technologies, science of materials and others.
Creation of a small joiner’s shop in the museum-estate of the painter V.D. Polenov in 1977 was the first attempt to combine the experience of an architect and a restorer. Then already in the Archangelsk region during restoration of the Dmitry Solunsky’s church in Uftuga since 1980 till 1988 the training process existed. But it was created in the Soviet times within the framework of the existing state system.
Only in 1988 we managed to register the first private firm carrying out restoration with cooperative property. Later on the form was repeatedly changed to an association with limited liability, a company with limited liability and then again the association. But orientation was the same: restoration, designing, training. Besides reconstruction, modern designing and building were added.
State prize laureate,
Restorer of the highest category,
Director-general of the association with limited liability
“Restoration centre – Architecture, Work, Training”