Repair And Restoration Of Historic Buildings

Preserving historic buildings is crucial to retaining a nation’s heritage and history. What is historic, and worth saving, varies with the beholder. Simply put, “historic” means “old and worth the trouble.” It applies to a building that’s part of a community’s tangible past. Though it may surprise cynics, old buildings can offer opportunities for a community’s future. Let’s just say, what are we without our memories? The importance of restoring historical and heritage buildings is something that can often end up being overlooked. However, for the following reasons, the idea should be given a good thought.

Historical Value
Older buildings are one of the only tangible throwbacks that we have to the past and forgotten bygone eras. They have an intrinsic historical and educational value as we can learn so much from them, in terms of architecture, interior design and decoration, as well as past standards of living and the way of life of people from years gone by.

Architectural Importance
Older buildings are jam-packed full of interesting and unique architecture & design ideas and styles. From the quirky charm of an uneven ceiling to the rustic appeal of exposed beams and an open fire, it is undeniable that old buildings have a character and personality all their very own.

Historic Buildings Boost Business
Many contractors, builders and experts are needed first of all to carry out the necessary repairs and restoration, and then once the project has been completed tourism will continue the curve and further boost the local economy. In particular, the leisure and tourism industry is the one that is likely to stand to gain the most from a well-restored, attractive historical building.

Cultural Significance
Old buildings are there to serve as a reminder of a town’s culture and interesting past. The very act of seeing a historic building is a visual reminder to the viewer of the area’s cultural heritage. People can immediately witness history first-hand through the aesthetics and architecture of a building. The renovation of heritage buildings is essential to the permanent residence of history and culture in the nation’s psyche.

A Case Study
There are many different building restoration techniques for experienced professionals to choose from, ranging from standard repairs to structure preservation to full restoration. Each has their benefits and drawbacks both in the long term and short term, and each will suit different buildings in varying ways depending on factors including usage, function, and physical condition.
The following case study will help understand how SIKA® Strengthening Solutions were used for the structural restoration of a 400-year-old bridge in Venice.
The Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge is one of the most well-known bridges in the world. It is certainly the most famous bridge in Venice (Italy), where thousands of tourists every day take pictures, walk over it or sail under it by Gondola. It is one of the four bridges that span “Canal Grande”. Designed by Antonio da Ponte and completed after three years in 1591, the bridge, which rests on two ramps, is 48 metres long with single 22 metre span arch made of stones. During the building of the bridge, many believed the project was too audacious from the engineering point of view, yet the bridge is still standing and has become one of the architectural icons of the city of Venice.

The restoration project was based on the awareness of the Bridge’s strong historical, architectural and constructional heritage as a landmark of the city of Venice. The restoration team took into consideration three main topics: the general architectural design, the preservation of the materials, and the structural strengthening. The final goals were to pursue the restoration, maintenance and overall refurbishment of the Rialto Bridge, preserving the architectural nature of the original materials and applying non-invasive but efficient structural solutions.
Both sides of the Rialto Bridge are rimmed by a ‘balustrade’ made of Istria stone. A ‘balustrade’ is a row of small columns topped by a rail. The term is derived from the form’s constituent posts, called balusters, a name coined in 17th century Italy for the bulbous item’s resemblance to blossoming pomegranate flowers.

This balustrade protrudes beyond the external edge of the masonry arch and it rests on stone cantilevers anchored underneath the deck. Upon removal of the stone deck, many cantilevers supporting the balustrade turned out to be cracked and the balustrade slightly rotated outward.

Sika® provided solutions with FRP structural strengthening system SikaWrap® to reinforce the stone cantilevers and to increase the safety of the balustrade, blocking further rotations. SikaWrap®-300 C, unidirectional carbon fibre fabric, impregnated with Sikadur®-330 epoxy resins was used for the application.

An ending anchorage with carbon fibre rope SikaWrap® FX-50 C impregnated with Sikadur®-52 Injection epoxy resin was installed on both ends of each fabric strip. The connector was anchored in stone with Sika AnchorFix®-3+ epoxy resin. The entire strengthening solution is non-invasive and invisible as it is hidden under the deck. A special procedure developed by Sika® was used for the application of SikaWrap® FX-50 C connectors. This procedure allowed the application of the connectors “all-at-once”.

Historical buildings are vital to the upkeep of the cultural significance of our country. It is therefore essential that we continue to invest time, money and resources to the restoration and renovation of these heritage buildings and structures. That will ensure that we can keep enjoying and learning from these buildings for many years to come.

Mr. Abisanka Sinha
Project Manager – Refurbishment,
Sika India Pvt. Ltd.