The destruction of this house located on 30th Street between 55th and 56th in the city of La Plata, Argentina is a testimony of the history of the country.
The destruction of the Mariani-Teruggi House involved personnel from the armed forces and police, using weapons of various calibers, shows us a clear example of the indiscriminate type of violence exercised by the Argentine state during the last military dictatorship. Various circumstances preserved the evidence of the violence inflicted to this house, with almost all the physical traces of the attack on November 24, 1976 still there, together with the physical effects of the successive avatars endured by the house for more than thirty years.
In order to preserve the house as a “document of history” and as a site for rescuing the memory of this violent past, the need to recover the actual materials used in the original physical structure was essential. Through a series of complex technical operations, the house’s preservation was completed. And despite the small scale of the work, these operations were extremely complex due to the circumstances detailed below.
Since the 1976 attack, the house has had more than thirty years of vicissitudes, looting and destruction. And so, a serious proposal which aimed to halt the deterioration of the house was put into action. This proposal was oriented to the consolidation of structural risk elements and the implementation of a series of actions that would restore the integrity of the exteriors and interiors of the house. This set the premise that there shouldn’t be alterations to the original structure, nor to its spatial configuration, but that there should be some preservation of the 1976 attack and the addition of a memorial.
The work specified then falls into two categories:
Work in action involving restoration, consolidation, conservation and reintegration (by the process of anastylosis);
New intervention (where a new memorial building is added to the former structure).
Restorative actions involved the reparation of those elements that have degraded over time, specifically walls and facades. Consolidation concerns the retrofitting of the former structural design and composing the whole of the house once again.
And finally we have reintegration. Reintegration involves rebuilding house components lost to vandalism and removing the ones coming from improper transformations (all this within the limits of the historical documents and materials remaining from times before the house’s destruction).
Historic preservation always includes politics, memory, regret, and opportunity. And we ought to consider it as one of the subjects affecting the built environment.
Do you think that built heritage interventions should always be considered as buildings for memory? In places that suffered violence in the past, can you separate the consequences and meaning of that violence from the building itself?
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