Training in the Réseau Art Nouveau Network
In order to meet requirements and fulfil responsibility, to propose the best possible maintenance of Art nouveau real estate, l’Ecole d’Avignon, technical partner for the network, initially aimed at developing a periodical assessment, control and maintenance plan, then train those who will carry out the plan. It consisted in writing out very detailed, practical charts, an itemised list of all the points that must be checked, and the associated pathologies: (1) technical solutions and recommendations, (2) the extent of an intervention (maintenance or repair related to the know-how of a local technician, a specialized craftsman, a restorer…), and (3) the program schedule. This plan can allow us, for example, to measure the evolution of a crack or the wear and tear in time, and help assess the seriousness of the damage; but can also help a town council to set up an appropriate budget and plan for significant repairs or for the restoration of emblematic buildings.
Taking into consideration the heterogeneous group of participants gathered, the three training sessions successively organised in Barcelona (Catalonia), Bruxelles-Brussel (Belgium) and Ljubljana (Slovenia) finally aimed at confronting the partners with the pre-diagnosis exercise (Amatller House in Barcelona, then Saint-Cyr House/Workshop in Brussels) and with a whole set of associated technical know-how and practices. Thus, the third training session focused on the technical and practical work with lime renderings and limewashes, notably with the practical realization of an Art Nouveau Sgraffito frieze. Each training session was also the opportunity for all the participants to discover in each city its Art Nouveau heritage, to visit its most representative buildings through the eyes of maintenance and rehabilitation experts, to meet the local experts on traditional techniques, to witness and discuss the local experiences and practices on maintenance and rehabilitation.
Maintenance is a set of the most suitable measures to preserve and restore the good condition of a structure (or of an initial condition). Generally, the measures are destined to maintain an existing value. Maintenance can be planned (preventive) or corrective measures (servicing and repair). The servicing can be carried out uninterruptedly, periodically or selectively, just for limited repairs.
A few general principles
- The Art nouveau stock of buildings is incredibly varied and variable, rich with a profusion of decorative, technical and often unique elements. Rather than define a gigantic generic data sheet that would apply to all the buildings of this period, it appears preferable to use a composition method, and write out a data sheet for each singular building: we get as many sheets as there are buildings, gaining in accuracy, consideration and effectiveness.
- Art nouveau corresponds to a clearly circumscribed timeframe and a well estimated style whose original elements we try to preserve as much as possible. We generally privilege maintenance, rehabilitation, and even repair rather than replacement.
- Before any repair is undertaken, the first task is to spot, define, and then only repair the CAUSES, the origin of deterioration.
- Evolution must exist and be accepted: in detail, respecting authenticity, in an effort to improve the use, solidity and comfort without detriment to the aesthetics and spirit of the original structure.