Romanesque Country Church Restoration and Regeneration
A long-forgotten historical place was restored to the community. The large area of the canonical complex of the Romanesque Pieve (country church) of Santa Maria in Dicomano (Florence) was seriously degraded and structurally unstable and had been closed for years. This complex project required various levels of intervention and examination: geological degeneration and structural reinforcement problems required conservative, rigorously historical restoration and large areas needed to be reconverted into multiple-use contemporary spaces suitable for social aggregation, accessible to the disabled. The overall aim was to renovate the Canonical Complex according to “Scientific Restoration” principles: interventions respecting the typology, structural, and formal elements of the building allowed conservation while enhancing character to permit the building to be used compatibly with its intrinsic features. This project received a mention from the PREMIO ARCHITETTURA TOSCANA for its symbolic value and the scientific work combining the historically religious canons of the Pieve with a transformation that respected the tradition of its original purposes, religious for the actual church and functional for the rear basement access. The two distinct parts of the building, each with different levels of work and requirements, also needed to have their functionality revised – partly due to extemporaneous interventions over the years that had not taken into account historical continuity - in view of their original functions and architectural solutions. The consolidation work consisted in the following general actions: improving the load bearing capacity of the foundations by broadening the ground based support, transferring loads to deeper levels, and repairing the largest lesions so as to reconstruct the structural solidity that had been lost.
Moreover, the restoration project included cleaning of the verges, refurbishing of the walkway and in particular, the securing and reinforcing of some parts of the walls that over time had shown major failure and whose reconstruction was effected using the original stones, appropriately preserved and recorded to ensure their exact recollocation. The project considered both the historical memory of the walkway as well as its harmonious insertion in a landscape that has always been the setting for the majesty of the ancient Pieve, thus returning one of the urbanistic elements of its own town to the community without altering its materials nor creating additions which would have inevitably created a less natural and integrated effect - an important detail considering the symbolic value of this route linked to the devotion of the site.