Conoscenza e tutela del patrimonio architettonico moderno e contemporaneo: esperienze a confronto

78 mainly to the lack of maintenance over time: damage to roofs, poorly functioning collection of rainwater, infiltration, detached plaster, obsolete networks and plant, and, now, phenomena of pollution-caused decay as well. Important alterations include improper operations on the finishings – for example the new surfaces/paint jobs being incompatible, in their materials and colours, with the existing substrata – while the most widespread phenomena include window and door replacements. In order to avoid unsuitable interventions or removals, it will be indispensable to prepare a specific research work aimed at learning the original material and technological characteristics of the buildings’ various components, and of the Modernist materials and finishings2, at times experimental and ‘autarkic’, whose performance capabilities in the Eritrean context are still little known. Volumetric alterations include transformations of the ‘voids’ in existing buildings in order to meet real housing needs, with the consequent modification of frontages through closures of loggias and balconies. Key architectural features are undermined by a host of uncoordinated interventions with the addition of accessory elements by juxtaposition, such as: satellite dishes, air conditioning systems, awnings, screens, road signs and advertising, and so on. All the interventions, lawful in and of themselves, carried out without rules and with no unifying plan, can bring about considerable modifications to the buildings and their context. The preservation of Asmara: practices and challenges Twenty years of centralization of political power in Addis Ababa by Haile Selassie and the Mengistu Socialist regime, thirty years of war for Ethiopian independence, and, not least, the fragile economy of the contemporary world have severely strained not only the Eritrean population, but the city’s architecture, too. In the absence or near absence of maintenance works, the buildings today now show clear phenomena of decay. While on the one hand there is a clearly undeniable negative connotation, the policy of non-intervention due to budget shortfalls has actually, over the long term, safeguarded these works of architecture from inapt actions, thus preserving their authenticity. It has also been found that, where maintenance or repurposing interventions have taken place, they often have little impact. However, when the country’s economy has a chance to rebound, the architecture of the city of Asmara will have to meet the new needs of contemporary society and respond to new development and consumption models, as well as to the necessary functional and regulatory adjustments (the latter, moreover, already required by the Unesco procedures). These needs, if not controlled, may considerably modify the physical and material appearance of the existing buildings. Overall, the built-up area of Asmara has common problems, to be ascribed Guido Sassi, Ponte ad arco a via inferiore in cemento armato, 1935, Moncullo, courtesy Susanna Bortolotto, Nelly Cattaneo.

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