Obliteration does not exist; is re-enactment preservation?


So, I was thinking about preservation, and it would be great to know what you guys think. If we consider what John Ruskin said in the Seven Lamps of Architecture that “it is impossible, as impossible as to raise the dead, to restore anything that has ever been great or beautiful in architecture.”

However, complete obliteration does not exist. Ideas like Plan Voisin could only existed in “tabula rasa” areas and not in existing cities, like Paris. So, although new buildings are built they continue the lines of the previous building. That could be the site lines, or other lines of a building, in the way that Sam Jacobs talks about architecture as re-enactment(Villa Savoye re-enacts the Parthenon, ancient greek columns re-enact timber pre-classical columns which re-enact nature itself).

Today’s London streets are laid on medieval streets, which are based on the Roman roads. In the same way, the Romans constructed their roads based on the size of two war horses, on which English roads were based and affected the size of cars and trains (and subsequently even space shuttles, look here for more).

Thus, in a world of no preservation, the re-enactment of the horse, by the train, or the re-enactment of the Parthenon by Villa Savoye, remain the means through which the only type of real conservation exists. In the end of the day, what are we trying to preserve?

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