While there are aesthetic and historical reasons for preserving building facades, the practice of facadism is often seen as a compromise between property developers who need to develop properties for modern uses and standards and preservationists who wish to preserve buildings of historical interest. It can be regarded as a compromise between historic preservation and demolition - and thus has been lauded as well as decried.
There is sometimes a blurred line between renovation, adaptive reuse and facadism. Sometimes buildings renovated to such an extent that they are "skinned", preserving the exterior shell and additionally used for purposes other than what they were originally intended. While this is equivalent to facadism, the difference is typically retention of roof and or floor structures, maintaining a credible link to the original building. In contrast, facadism typically involves retaining only one or two street facing walls for purely aesthetic and decorative purposes.
Distribution and control measures
Despite being highly controversial and denounced by many preservationists as vandalism, facadism is used as the demand for new development is overwhelming community desires for preservation. Facadism appears often in cities where there is a strong pressure of new development.
Architectural podiums are often seen by some architects as a solution to this problem and these are allowed for as part of planning frameworks in urban heritage areas.
The practice of facadism conflicts with ICOMOS international charters. The Venice Charter, article 7, states that: A monument is inseparable from the history to which it bears witness and from the setting in which it occurs. The moving of all or part of a monument cannot be allowed except where the safeguarding of that monument demands it or where it is justified by national or international interest of paramount importance.
In Australia, the Burra Charter has some policies which deal with facadism.
In the rapidly growing city of Melbourne, facadism has existed as early as the 1930s. The Old Commerce building at the University of Melbourne is a prominent example of a building which has been relocated and "stuck on" a newer building.
With the introduction of heritage controls, several large buildings have been completely "skinned". These include the T&G buildings on Collins Street and the Savoy Hotel on Spencer Street.
In the late 1990s, the practice was discouraged with the introduction of a 10 metre policy which advocated for the retention of at least 10 metres of the front of the building. This helped to retain context and the integrity of important transitions and relationships such as entrances as well as complex roof structures.
The Olderfleet group of buildings (which includes the Rialto and Winfield) and the 1 Collins Street development are seen as well executed examples of this preservation policy.
However implementation, which applied only to heritage registered buildings and laxed in subsequent years allowing several horrific examples of facadism to appear particularly with heritage buildings of only local significance causing the Melbourne City Council to rethink the policy. For example, the heritage registered Carlton & United Breweries site is a large site on Swanston Street, Melbourne which has contained hollow suspended facades for almost three decades.
In Brisbane, mock historicism is encouraged by the Brisbane City Council. A notable example is the Myer Centre which features extensive facadism of several buildings including the Hotel Carlton (1885), New York Hotel (1860) and Newspaper House. Other buildings which are facaded include the final design includes the facade of the Queensland Country Life Building (1888).
In Canada, all jurisdictions at the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal level have adopted the Standards & Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, which does not recommend, though not explicit, facadism as good conservation practice. In general, projects which have approached projects using facadism are considered to have lost their integrity and value.
Reconstruction of a 1890s 7-storey apartment building. Malaya Nikitskaya Street, Moscow.
Reconstruction in Bucharest.
The First Church in Boston was rebuilt behind its 19th-century shell after a fire in 1968.
The 46-story Hearst Tower in Manhattan rises out of the cast stone facade of the original 6-story building
Air Canada Centre uses the two facades from the original Toronto Postal Delivery Building
- Byard, Paul Spencer. The architecture of additions: design and regulation, W. W. Norton and Company, 1998, p. 105. Available on Google Books.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2010)|
- Goldberger, Paul (1985-07-15). ""Facadism" On The Rise: Preservation Or Illusion?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2006-09-21.
- Heffern, Sarah (April 26, 2001). "When History Is Only Skin Deep". Preservation Online (National Trust for Historic Preservation). Retrieved July 22, 2013.
- King, John (2005-02-22). "Insulting historic preservation". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-09-21.
- King, John (2006-09-20). "Classics preserved -- or are they?". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-09-21.
- Media related to Facadism at Wikimedia Commons