“As far as wall-paintings are concerned, initially there was nothing worth mentioning. Following initial surveys, we discovered that we had mural paintings in every room and corridors. Original surfaces went through several repaints over time, sometimes overlapping the previous ones. In one room, four distinct painting campaigns were found.”
After the 1755 earthquake, interior decoration in new buildings followed the approved codes for a fast, modular and prefabricated construction system. Decorative arts were standardized following regular types and solutions. Over time, though, some interiors became quite refined, especially during the neoclassic period. The Ivens Arte building was one of such examples. Unfortunately, over the years, the building went through severe changes and its interiors barely survived to the present day.
When In Situ conservation team first visited the building, little was visible of its previous interior decoration. The original historic surfaces were buried beneath centuries of paint. There was a story to be uncovered and a thorough onsite survey was carried out under rigorous conservation principles. Flawless organization was fundamental in this complex process of slow removal of successive paints coats and damaged tiles, following the initial definition of criteria for the future reapplication, together with the architects. Over time, a patient work of cleaning, protecting, tagging and documenting the walls and ceilings revealed some singular historic interiors in the context of Baixa Pombalina. These, in turn, constrained the architect in search of the best integrated solution for each room, each ceiling, and each tile panel. In some cases, they were removed, in other cases they were preserved and protected onsite. In every case, all solutions were carefully discussed with In Situ. Sometimes, history can be a constraint, but in this case it was a clear motivation to do better, to do it right.