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Information-gathering surveys

glimpse of the castle with battlemented tower
View of the eastern curtain from Via F. Acton. Between the Gold Tower and the Palatine Chapel, the elements realised under Pedro de Toledo: the two-level loggia with its round arches resting on square columns; on the right the basement of the Sea Tower and at the top of it, perspectively, the upper part of the building corresponding to the Carlo V Hall

Before any kind of restoration can take place, it is fundamental to consider the architecture of a construction as a whole, as the outcome of a stratification of styles and subsequent building projects throughout the centuries (often carried out with different principles and building techniques, with the use of different styles and materials). Moreover, when a building is so closely linked to historical events, each of its parts, in its structural, aesthetic and functional logic, is connected to the whole.

Consequently, even when restoration is partial, it is indispensable to have an overall understanding of the monument, a global graphic representation of it, a general survey in order to evaluate the building project accurately and identify what other research might be necessary to clarify as far as possible the history and structural articulation of the bulding in question.

In the case of the Castel Nuovo, the final aim was to work out an organic and general idea of a redefinition of its functions, and therefore it was necessary to develop a study plan of the whole castle, integrating surveys that had already been carried out, defining accurately its present structure and reconstructing its development in relationship with the city as a whole. For this particular aim, the surveys have been integrated with detailed and extensive historical and iconographical research.

What needs to be known about the Castel Nuovo has been approached on three different levels:

  1. the town, so as to be able to provide the analyses and support necessary for the determination of building projects in relation to the urban context; 
  2. the building, in order to understand its structural, formal and decorative characteristics, but also to identify those aspects which, while completely preserving their nature, also permit or condition the redefinition of functions (as is the case with the castle's horizontal and vertical practicability); 
  3. the areas for individual projects (lots), for which it has evidently been necessary to carry out a more detailed examination so that all the needed information could be available - for example, from statics examinations to the observance of the various regulations (for the plant engineering aspects as for the availability for the public, etc.).

The complexity of such a survey is self-evident; passing gradually from one context to another, there has to be correlation of the different levels. This description is a limited version of what has been published elsewhere at greater length. In general terms, it is worth pointing out that, on the basis of existing cartography (of numerical type), the survey has been conducted with the integrated use of the direct method - the topographic and photogrammetric methods.

Furthermore, both for the photogrammetric surveys and for certain thematic examinations (in particular, for the face of the building and its degree of deterioration), much use has been made of computer data within the general framework of continuous research; on the one hand, in order to experiment new programmes, and on the other to discover the new frontiers of computer applications in the architectural surveys. Besides, all the descriptions have been directly generated by computer.

Considerations to the method and the aims of the survey in the area of the project are, of course, different. 
Because of the characteristics of this prestigious monument, this survey had to take into consideration: structures and instabilities, the surface coverings (such as floors), the more valuable architectural elements and those of typological significance, stone materials and the masonry faces, and the condition and type of deterioration.

It deals with a problematic situation which has required a complex set of basic and thematic surveys:

  1. architectural surveys (and their final use) 
  2. structural surveys ( and the relative fissures) 
  3. surveys of architectural valuable items and their typological significance, with relative inventory;
  4. surveys of floors and masonry coverings 
  5. surveys of masonry faces, of the material as well as of their condition and type of deterioration

Cross section of the castle: in the illustration below on the left, the first (above), the middle of the courtyard, shows the contro-façade; the second - over the Barons' Hall - shows the connection with the Beverello Tower and the Palatine Chapel.

drawings of vertical sections of the castleancient topographic plant