A conference about gypsum and its construction systems, widely used during centuries in the Mediterranean basin, was recently organized and carried out at the Department of Architecture of the University of Palermo (DARCH).
The conference collected the testimonies and the report of Italian and foreign professors who refer to PhD students, university students, experts and technicians about their applied research activity and studies in the field of recovery and restoration of construction systems and finishing ones using gypsum, with an interesting dialectic both in analogy and in contrast between Italy and Spain (considering widespread applications in the two countries and originalities deriving from different geographical contexts).
The result was an opportunity for an exchange of applied knowledge, very useful for those experts involved in recovery interventions of traditional construction heritage, and also an occasion to recover the ancient construction rules and extraction systems of gypsum, the way to product this material, also to rebuilt gypsum architecture in a contemporary key inside small and large urban centers, to restore the artistic heritage hosted in small buildings and monuments.
The conference has represented an opportunity to reiterate the need to know this material and the related construction systems, in order to be able to better intervene compatibly with the original characters of the existing buildings, as well as a starting point for a technical debate that introduced topics for reflection well beyond the geographic and constructive contexts.
The technical seminar reiterated the idea that the profile of the recovery expert of traditional and historical architecture should be a link – with his knowledge and his design skills – between designers and public administrations (state, regional and municipal ones), as well as a channel between these public institutions and the owners of this widespread building heritage. This strategic role of the recovery expert of traditional building systems will be able to favor the correct ordinary and extraordinary maintenance, the uncultivated non-demolition due to bad knowledge or carelessness of this building culture, the possibility of conveying the message that recovering this building heritage concerns the contemporary project of architecture and the professional practice of highly specialized figures, capable of combining the best of ancient construction techniques with the most innovative and competitive contemporary ones.
The conference has demonstrated also the need of a network of specific experts related to gypsum construction that could bring the world of production and construction work closer to that of management politics and public construction, listening and assisting the absolutely and non-secondary property of this buildings, which often has no incentive to mature and safeguard the culture of conservation and enhancement of traditional historical architecture.
It’s hoped that this kind of initiative may also be followed by other research or professional training institutions in the future.
Author: Tiziana Campisi (UNIPA)