Talking about the stop to the works of the realization of the metro due to the discovery of a pottery in the most ancient layers of the soil, or the impossibility of building a bridge-infrastructure-megaproject in defense of Yyyy view … in Italy it has become a cliché. The excessively conservative approach that characterizes Italians, or rather our technical and bureaucratic practice, is so ingrained as to cause discomfort and frustration, and in many cases significant economic losses and a brake on a possible better future.

It is a topic that is so easy to target, that it becomes a bar/funny topic and attracts the promotion of its exact opposite, even by teaching staff at the University: their praise to the Japanese example had at the time made a very easy breach in us students, who suddenly undermined our material and not very detached attitude towards monuments.

What do I mean? The Japanese do not have a tradition of restoration like ours, but, by virtue of tradition, collective memory and religious rituals, the majority of the most important temples are rebuilt every few years. This rebuilding process is called Shikinen Sengū; the greater the prestige of the temple, the greater the frequency of reconstruction (see the temple of Ise, rebuilt every twenty years since 690 AD).

This attitude was praised and embraced by teachers as a key against bureaucratic intoxication, as solutions to quibbles, nos, regulatory vetoes, forced museumization, and everything that “blocks” us. Although rules and bureaucracy can sometimes be limiting without any benefit, I want to break a lance in favor of our vision, since we very often tend to criticize harshly, exceeding on the other side.

Japanese culture has been extremely conservative for many centuries, and its technical progress has not been as fast as the European-Italian one. It was different, more aimed at internalization. Technically, progress has been little pursued, so there is very little difference between a building before the year 1000 and the end of the 1800s. This thought is not applicable to many Italian artisan masterpieces, not only because of the strong individuality that we recognize in the artist who performed a certain bas-relief, sculpture, etc. – but because most of the wisdom linked to ancient workings has been lost (or is in the hands of very few researchers and restorers).

And if this is quite obvious, and it is clear that it was necessary to grasp the essence of this thought, that is not to nostalgically cling to the material, but rather embracing a broader knowledge that is not afraid of deterioration, of renewal, thanks to historical memory… well, restoring is not only more sustainable from a practical point of view, but it is also economic-ecological:

The old shrines are dismantled and new ones built on an adjacent site to exacting specifications every 20 years at exorbitant expense, so that the buildings will be forever new and forever ancient and original.


Imagine in our case the quantity of marble, gold, stone, bronze, stucco, plaster…

Unless I find unexpected reasons, I still can’t see the good of rebuilding from scratch where it was and how it was – then yes, better rather a nice picture framed in a museum bulletin board.

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