The Course of Building Materials in Historic Buildings and Monuments
The architecture of the past has always been a source of knowledge on various aspects of sustainable architecture. In the last decades, there has been a growing interest concerning the environmental impact of building materials, which is linked with a vast variety of parameters, both quantitative and qualitative. This paper looks into the way in which materials and components were selected and incorporated in historic buildings and constructions in various parts of Greece, in the beginning and at the end of their life cycle. The two hypotheses that are made and put to the test involve two basic sustainability parameters of building materials: the use of local and/or natural materials and their reuse and/or recycling.
In the beginning of a building’s life cycle, materials were mainly selected based on resources, locality and transportation. It is acknowledged that the use of local and/or natural materials was mainly due to the lack of transportation means and economic resources. Nevertheless, it was those local and natural materials that gave historic buildings and constructions their distinct character and beauty. At the end of the life cycle of a building or a construction, materials and components were either reused, autonomously or after small or significant processing, in new constructions or rejected to the environment. Once again, similar to the beginning of their life cycle, materials were repaired, reused and recycled mainly due to the lack of economic resources and technical means.
This paper tries to address the issues of material use in historic buildings and constructions through the scope of the environmental impact. Its main aim is to denote the past practices that concerned the beginning and end of the life cycle and learn from them. The analysis is based on the theory of the environmental impact at the first and the last stages of the materials’ life cycle, in combination with the presentation of relative selected examples.
KeywordsHistoric buildings Monuments Building materials Life cycle
The authors would like to thank the Ephorate of Antiquities of West Attica, Piraeus and Islands for providing the relevant permissions for the photo shooting and publication of designated archaeological areas in Vari, Voula and Vouliagmeni.
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