On the Thoughts of John Ruskin, William Morris, Viollet-le-Duc

In our Arch451 course, we covered the idea of Morris, Ruskin and Viollet-le-Duc about the restoration. Since we were seeing the idea of restoration, it is crucial to see the past and the first impression on restoration. So, we assigned to reads some articles from those architects and write a summary on them. In this post, I will generally talk about their ideas and thoughts on restoration.

Firstly, Morris’ ideas on restoration was not positive. According to some architects -he claims- meaning restoration is taking the building in an arbitrary point in time and restore according to that times architectural features, so the building is still historical. And that’s why he was thinking that any restoration in any time to a building, will cause a gap in the history of the building. He was thinking that all the years has an impact on the building, so by turning the building in a specific time, we are destroying those impacts on the building.

Another point of view is from John Ruskin. He had touching ideas on restoration. He thoughts that restoration means the total destruction which a building can suffer. He was thinking the old buildings as a dead and he said that it is impossible to raise a dead. So, after the restoration, the building is gaining a new spirit, but it is not the same with the original spirit of the building. Also, according to him the building belongs to those who built them and partly to all the generations of the mankind wo are to follow us. That’s why it is not right to restore the building. He was suggesting taking proper care of the monuments, so they don’t need to be restored.

And lastly, I will mention about Viollet-le-Duc’s thoughts on restoration. Apart from Morris and Ruskin, Viollet-le-Duc has a positive approach to restoration. But his approach on restoration is a little bit different. He thought that restoration is not rebuilding or maintaining the building, it is reestablishing it in a finished state. By saying ‘finished state’ he aimed to say it does not have to be in the original building, but things can appear during the restoration. He was not against to using the today’s materials. If the building needs a structural element and if it is crucial to durability of the building, it is okay to use nowadays structural elements. He suggested to the architects who will restore the building, to put himself to the original architects’ shoes. What he would do if he returned to earth.