Learning from the Building: Direct Sources for the Preservation Project. The Experience of Besozzo's Town Hall (Varese, Italy)

Susanna Bortolotto, Elisabetta Ciocchini, Andrea Frigo, Andrea Garzulino, Raffaella Simonelli, Fabio Zangheri


The Town Hall of Besozzo (Varese, Italy) is located in the city centre of the village and its first construction phase is dated back to the XIV-XV century. It shows a complex palimpsest which is the result of the numerous transformations occurred during its life: enlargements, super elevations, demolitions, inner spaces subdivisions and use changes. Currently a project has been issued for the reuse of the building which assigns new spaces for the town offices to the northern wing recently acquired. The aim of the research was to provide a diagnostic insight, useful for the development of the conservation project which will necessarily take into account the multitude of values registered on the building. Owing to a lack of meaningful archival documentation, the elevation’s stratigraphic reading and the methods for dating historical buildings proved to be an invaluable resource for the comprehension of the building’s transformations. Cross-referencing readings of indirect sources carried on the building with the results of the in-depth analysis made it possible to rebuild the growth of the structure from its origin to the present days. Such analysis includes: geometric survey, photographic rectifications of facade and inner sections, non-destructive diagnostic investigations, bricks, mortar and plaster chemical-physical analysis, mensiochronology, study of the building techniques and chronotypology which is a stylistic analysis performed both on the constructive (apertures) and decorative (shelves, graffiti, colourings traces) architectural elements. Blending the results of these dating techniques produced the complexity of the stratigraphic reading which has been conveyed with adequate hatching on the rectified images (U.S. – Stratigraphic Unity) while schematic 3D reconstructions exemplify the chronological sequence of the building activities. Individuation and comprehension of the building constructive phases made also possible to understand which were the different uses of each room inside this domestic architecture thus providing the client and the bodies in charge of protection with valuable data for the preservation project.


knowledge, architecture, surveying, stratigraphy analysis, documentation, conservation


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