ANTONI GONZÁLEZ MORENO-NAVARRO
Heritage Preservation Medal 2023
The winner of the 2023 Richard H. Driehaus Heritage Preservation Medal is Antoni González Moreno-Navarro, in recognition of his extensive career in heritage stewardship and his major theoretical and methodological contributions to better heritage conservation.
The work he has done over more than 40 years as head of the Local Architectural Heritage Service at the Barcelona Provisional Council has made him a benchmark figure for heritage conservation practitioners. The methodology he developed, the ideas he has set out in various writings and their application in his own restoration projects has had a significant and positive impact in the practice of the discipline.
Video presenting Antoni González and his work
Video made by Beatriz Pérez-Porro presenting the work of Antoni González, for which he has been awarded the Richard H. Driehaus Heritage Preservation Medal 2023
Born in Barcelona in 1943, Antoni González Moreno-Navarro graduated as an architect in 1970. In 1975 his commitment to heritage conservation led him to be appointed as head of the Local Architectural Heritage Service at the Barcelona Provisional Council. Over his years of stewardship he developed the intervention method known as “Objective Restoration” in reference to the need to develop specific criteria for each project, and he has led many restorations in the region.
His defense of “architectural authenticity” as a counterweight to an often excessive emphasis on “material authenticity” served to support many restoration practitioners in adopting the most suitable criteria for each restoration, without overlooking important values of built heritage such as spatial, functional or structural aspects. Along the same lines he disseminated the notion of “architecturally false” as against that of “historically false” in restoration, and highlighted the specificity of criteria for work on architectural heritage as opposed to those commonly applied in other types of work. As he says himself, “if the Venus de Milo were a building, we would probably have to restore her arms”. He has also stressed the importance of taking account of what buildings mean to those who use them and of seeking to avoid refurbishments that are liable to be unpopular due to the alteration of that meaning, introducing community consultation as an integral part of the restoring architect’s decision process. He has also drawn attention to the need to inform and educate the community during and after any restoration, which process he included as a key part of the projects he led. Thanks also to his influence, methods of archaeological analysis began to be applied to buildings still standing and to elements of any period before any restoration work started.
He has directed over a hundred restoration projects and sites and has set out his ideas and accounted for his practice in detail, in which aspect he was also a pioneer, through many books and articles. These notably include La restauración objetiva. Método SCCM de restauración monumental (Objective restoration. The Heritage Service method of monumental restoration), published in 1999. In 1992 he was one of the founders of the Partal Academy, an association of professionals devoted to the restoration of historic buildings, and in 1980 he received the prestigious FAD Restoration Award.
Among the many restoration projects undertaken over his career we may note that at the Monastery of Sant Llorenç de Guardiola in Berguedà, the restoration of the Church of Sant Jaume de Sesoliveres in Igualada, the restoration and recovery of paintings in the Church of Sant Quirze de Pedret, or work on the Porxada de Granollers market, the hospital of Sant Pau or structures by Gaudí, such as the Güell Palace chimneys.