Restoration of the below-grade environments of Palazzo Bentivoglio | The Plan
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Restoration of the below-grade environments of Palazzo Bentivoglio

Reliving History

Antonio Iascone

The debate around the restoration of historic buildings and what this should entail has raged in Italy for more than half a century. The outcome has been the rise of a recognized school of thought supporting a new approach that mediates between exclusively philological restoration, on the one hand, and simple adaptation to new use on the other.
This particular Italian approach is grounded in respect for and remediation of the historic architecture in question, two key concepts that often seem very difficult to combine. This is backed up by the rule that adjuncts and additions to ancient buildings should be clearly visible so that the existing structures are maintained - as far as physically and legally feasible - in the same state that History - with a capital H - has passed down to us. This is tantamount to a declaration of love for “the golden stain of time” dear to Ruskin, which in turn is akin to Benjamin’s unshakeable certitude that every work of art is uniquely unrepeatable.

The restoration and refurbishment by Antonio Iascone & Partners of the basement floor of Palazzo Bentivoglio in the north Italian city of Bologna clearly follow what can now be called the “Italian restoration tradition”.

The project was sponsored by an important Bolognese family who acquired and gifted the city with this originally 16th Century palazzo, in its day considered one of Bologna’s most splendid residences. A first restoration project, concluded in 2017, returned the first floor residential story to its former glory. This has now been followed by a second project to restore and convert the approximately 700 sq. m of below-grade space into a cultural, art exhibition and events area.

The architectural project was designed to preserve the spatial distribution and characteristics of the basement floor, placing on the ancient template only the few - clearly visible - contemporary elements...

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