Huerta Fernández, Santiago
Ethics and materials. Some Spanish Case Studies.
In: "Déontologie de la pierre. Stratégies d'intervention pour la cthédrale de Lausanne", 14-15 de junio de 2012, Lausanne. ISBN 978-2-8399-1138-2.
In Navea, north of Spain, a medieval arch bridge shows a visible distortion (fig.1a). A stone falls down from the web of a gothic vault in a big parish church in Burgos (fig. 1b), and a voussoir falls down from the rib of another gothic vault in Oviedo (fig. 1c). An oval dome collapses in Zaragoza, though another four identical domes remain safe (fig. 1d). Sometimes the building has to support new, heavier loads. The ruin of the abandoned (since the 19th Century) monastery of Melón should be consolidated, some vaults are rebuilt and the visitors can walk over them. A Franciscan Convent is going to be turned into a Cultural Centre, the loads to be supported being multiplied by a factor of two. A little medieval bridge is asked to support the pass of heavy lorries. These are some of the cases I have studied in the last two decades, all of them referring to questions of structural safety.
These are the kind of situations which often occurs in the field of Historic Structures. They require a study and an answer. This is no scholarly work (though in some cases new lines of future research will emerge). A judgement must be made by the expert and this judgement affects the safety and economy, in the last instance, of people. As there are rarely unique answers, the behaviour of the expert, then, can also be judged as "ethical", if he proposes an intervention that is necessary and adequate (or, recommends no intervention, judging the situation safe), or "non-ethical", if recommends an unnecessary or disproportionate intervention. In relation to the monument, also, the proposal can be judged ethically; any intervention damaging seriously the character of the monument may be labelled un-ethical.