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The field of Architectural restoration and rehabilitation has been responsible for the continued existence of famous historical monuments seen still standing today. The Great Sphinx and Pyramids of Egypt, the Parthenon of Greece, the Coliseum of Rome as well as the Pantheon, St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice, St. Sophia in Istanbul, the Alhambra in Granada and even the Great Wall of China, all have underwent restoration and rehabilitation. Restoring and rehabilitating structures, especially those of great historical value, like the ancient wonders mentioned are such monumental tasks to undertake.
These are types of projects that will take years; mostly decades due to so much attention to details needed. A wrong restoration methodology could spell disaster. Not only does restoration of historical edifices take enormous amount of time but also millions of money.
Like in the case of the Great Sphinx, which had slowly succumbed to chipping and erosion as a result of years of subjection to the harsh weather elements of Egypt; restoration just became an imperative call. Historical landmarks like the Sphinx is too precious to watch get merged with the Egyptian desert. Further degradation of the Sphinx would not only say goodbye to a grandeur that reminds Egypt that it once held the world in its palms but also to the contribution of that single edifice to the coffers of the country as a tourist destination.
The restoration and rehabilitation of the Great Sphinx actually began allegedly from 1400 BC under Thutmosis IV. Under Roman rule, the Sphinx also got rehabilitated as they were used as backdrop for Roman plays. In 1955, the Government started a campaign for restoration and rehabilitation and again in 1989. It was only in 1989 that the architects got their restoration methodology right. The office of Egyptian Antiquities Office shelved out £60 million in a total span of ten years to finally rehabilitate the Great Sphinx.
These types of endeavors takes into account into everything from location, historical records, function, architectural elements like columns, doors, windows among others, type of materials, changes and modifications done in the past, and costs, to engineering elements such as air quality, subsurface water, characteristics of soil and rocks, and temperature variations of the environment, level of degradation, and structural stability assessment. When all factors are considered, how these factors interplay with each other, only then can a project starts to go to the drawing board. At the planning stage, the formulations of what specific restoration measures and methodologies to adopt. Once methodology is established, actual work can be executed.
Architectural restoration, of course, does not only apply to historical monuments but to any kind of structure which mainly includes buildings and houses. Restoration of buildings and skyscrapers are also challenging work for architects. Unlike in historical monuments, which are undertaken or commissioned for preservation purposes, high-rise buildings undergo restoration to make sure that the structure is fit for human use. A single skyscraper can house thousands of humans so the integrity of the building has to be doubly sure that it is fit for use.
In the future, the field of Architectural Restoration and Rehabilitation will have a great potential as an industry as thousands of buildings will be due for restoration and rehabilitation in the next 10 or 20 years.