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Hiding scaffolds

Sunday 5 January 2014

I admire the polite care sometimes taken in Europe, when his­toric buildings are being repaired, to maintain the quality of public spaces nearby. It’s not always done, but I have seen fine examples where scaffolding has been shrouded in screens print­ed with images of the facade behind. People in the streets are pro­tect­ed from the dirt and distraction of the build­ing work, and they can still see (at least a simulation of) the architecture.

Public square in Florence

Piazza della Signoria in Florence, looking north west from the corner near the Uffizi. The large building to the left of centre is the Palazzo delle Assicurazioni Generali, covered with scaffolding hidden behind a screen.

The Piazza della Signoria is one of the most im­por­tant public squares in Florence, overlooked by the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi, and linked to the Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio. Thousands of people walk through the piazza each day, and many stay to look around and to eat in the open-air cafes. Giving all of them a good experience is essential in this city whose commerce is built on tourism.

When I was there in September 2010 one of the buildings facing the piazza was scaffolded and shrouded​—​the Palazzo delle as­si­cu­ra­zio­ni Generali, an insurance company office built in 1871. It is not the most significant building in the square, but it con­trib­utes to the space and I heartily approve of its printed wrapping.

Scaffold frame

The scaffolding is arranged so that people can still gather (and spend money) in the square, and enjoy the views of the rennaissance buildings.

Printed shrouds are also deployed at the Châ­teau de Versailles near Paris. The video below shows how the printed screens are recycled into useful objects after each con­ser­va­tion project is finished.

filed under Architecture + Conservation

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