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Cultural Documents

Architectural restoration: L’Avana-Venafro exchange


July-September 2017

The action was conceived to allow partners to have the opportunity to trade the respective knowledge and experience and to think about the architectural approaches in Cuba (Old Avana) and in Italy (Venafro).

Involved Leads

The project was designed by Buono Costruzioni with Deirdre Mackenna of Cultural Documents and endorsed by the Officina del Historiador (cultural and heritage national institution of Cuba) located in L’Avana.
After the project presentation by Antonio and Teresa Buono, in June 2017, in L’Avana, Perla Martinez Rosales and Raul Cortazar Fernandez have been selected by the workshop to keep the project going on. They spend two months in Italy exploring the professional practice with the Impresa Costruzioni in Venafro. Perla is a civil engineer and Raul is an architect. Both of them worked on many projects in Old Avana and they considered their knowledge and experience in an international environment.

An Italian Architectural Tour

Teresa Buono just achieved a program of construction sites visits with an eye on the cultural wealth of the country and, especially, Molise, Naples, Rome, Grosseto and Florence. The group found many similarities between Venafro and L’Avana on the architectural heritage and realised how the buildings and city planning has an impact on the people community. Also, they understood how new processes, materials and technologies have the ability to ensure the integrity of the building. Perla e Raul described how the Avana planning procedures created a strong bond between the community and cultural institutions: the restoration and the development of public spaces (squares as a meeting centre, where the restoration can give new life to commercial activities), can stimulate membership and civic development.
In the Verlascio, the ancient Roman amphitheatre, Raul and Perla saw how the Buono Costruzioni work realized preservation and stability of the building, which is now usable by residents and tourists.
Deirdre entered the group leading some visits to cultural sites and rural walks, discussing how architecture can take with itself the tales of the past. The emotional investment was very strong and resulted by the reports of the destruction of the territory during the II World War, as for the bombing of the Montecassino Abbey and its great rebuilding effort.

Many others reports of the war, the blood and the sacrifice are showed and told by the Winterline Museum in Venafro; led by Luciano Bucci, the group learns the impact of those tragical events on the area, which later reflected on abandoned villages of Pacitti and Travareccie in Filignano.
The meditation has been placed on the role of architecture in commemorating community life and, in particular, on the construction sector, which has the ability to coordinate actions in co-operation with the institutions and landowners to preserve public memory.

Cuba-Italy, Differences and Similarities

The group thought about the difference between capitalist and socialist approaches in open markets. They understood that, even if the justifications and systems are different, the processes are similar to each other. Every model shares the standards procedure of national funding request, submitting an assistance case in competition with other regions. The group agreed that if the model evolves given the community advantage it would create more tangible opportunities and it would make restoration projects integrated into the environment. Lastly, it would improve the social, economic and cultural sustainability. New projects could also include non-formal educational activities addressed to people of all ages, stimulating the intergenerational involving and mobilizing citizenship. In turn, new projects could increase the awareness of the cultural heritage, facing the preservation and restoration issue of the urban centre in community life. This kind of model is able to increase the responsibility and the role of the architectural and cultural heritage.

In Conclusion

L’Avana and Venafro are places where both have a rich cultural heritage, each of which requires constant restoration work. Ideally, this work should be part of a citizenship program able to optimise the balance between restoration, preservation and everyday use. All the restoration companies are in a key position between the owner and the community, there is why they should have a sensitive approach to optimise cooperation between heritage and daily use.