old house restoration

Dynamic Restoration Techniques for Old Buildings

Restoring an Old House to Its Original Form, Function and Design

There are three broad categories of historic building sites that are restored to its original form, function and design: documentary, representative or aesthetic.

  • The purpose of the documentary site is to document an important event of the life or lives of a person or family. The structure does not necessarily need to be restored to its exact conditions at a specific point in time nor is it important that every facet of the restoration is justifiable.
  • The purpose of the representative site is to help the visitor understand a period in history or a way of life. A representative site does not have to be associated with a historic event or person(s) but rather, is symbolic of many other structures of its period.
  • The purpose of the aesthetic site is to achieve something pleasing to the eye. An adaptive re-use building e.g museum displaying period room settings or furnishings is an example of an aesthetic site. It is not recreating a setting that actually existed or even one that would be typical of what once existed.

When most of the original elements of an old building are still intact or parts of it are salvageable, a dynamic restoration technique is ideal.

restoring old house

Dynamic Restoration Technique

Dynamic restoration is one of three restoration techniques. Dynamic restoration utilises the techniques of reconstruction by re-assembling or refurbishment.

While a static restoration focuses on repair and protection of the materials and structural components, a dynamic restoration focuses on restoring the building to its original form, function and design.

Some examples of dynamic restoration techniques are anastylosis, reprogrammed building and land uses, substitution, relocation and enclosing the structure.


Anastylosis utilises the techniques of reconstruction, re-assembling and refurbishing. Reconstruction is done by re-uniting some of the fallen fragments with the remaining portions still in their original places while other scattered fragments are left as is but already with preservative treatment.

Reprogrammed Building and Land Uses

Reprogramming buildings and land uses involve restoring the structure to its original form with its character remaining as is. The technique aims to recapture the ambiance and character of the past that the building and land uses are reprogrammed to fit these sites to modern times.

The designs and forms of the building are guided and controlled; some non-existing structures and features are reconstructed either partially or wholly to more clearly project the original characteristics of the structure.


Substitution is often necessary when the structural components are beyond repair. Although duplication is against the principles of restoration, it can be an exception in cases where an element of the original structure needs to be replaced to protect the structure from further deterioration.

The preservation action i.e replacement, is intended to halt deterioration and maintain the original structure’s existence, a compromise which is valid and justifiable. When replacement of some elements for the structure is unavoidable, the replacement should closely resemble the material being replaced.


In certain situations and as long as the structure is movable, relocation can be an alternative. Relocation is recommended when the structure is threatened with the danger of damage e.g. construction activity, vehicular traffic, floods or atmospheric pollution and there is no other way to protect it.

Enclosing the Structure

Enclosing the structure e.g. glass container, shade structure, fencing, to protect the structure from damage e.g weather conditions, is another dynamic restoration example.

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