Book on basic heritage conservation launched

Archt. Melva Java signs copies of her book. Photo credit: Rudy Alix

The University of San Carlos Press launched yesterday, July 17, 2018, a heritage conservation book entitled, “Illustrated Manual for the Repair and Maintenance of Spanish Period Structures in the Philippines” at the Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu.

Designed to address day-to-day issues confronting owners, builders, masons, and carpenters dealing with Spanish period structures, the 260-page full-color book is co-authored by heritage conservation architect Melva Rodriguez-Java and Dr. Eng. Raimund Becker-Ritterspach, a German heritage conservation engineer and planner.

The authors spent over a year of fieldwork with USC architecture students documenting the structural elements and conditions of churches, convents, watchtowers, and other government buildings made of coral stone and wood during the Spanish period in Cebu and Bohol.

Java, the founding dean of the then USC College of Architecture and Fine Arts (CAFA), now the School of Architecture, Fine Arts, and Design (SAFAD), has been active in heritage conservation work since the late 1990s and was the architect that restored the Archdiocesan Museum where the launch was held. Her co-author, Dr. Becker-Ritterspach worked with her in Cebu under the sponsorship of the Senior Experten Service, the German non-profit organization and foundation that sends experts all over the world where they are needed.

According to Archt. Michael Espina, the current dean of USC SAFAD, the need for the book was largely hastened by the October 2013 earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu and impacted many Spanish period structures especially churches and convents. But the work for heritage conservation began over a decade earlier when CAFA Heritage Conservation Studios and Workshops (CHERISH) was established with Java as its founding director.

The book is filled with full-color illustrations detailing building parts, both of wood and stone, as well as instructions on upkeep and maintenance, together with notes on statutes and laws that protect heritage structures and precincts. It is a must-read not only for architecture teachers, students, but also for priests and owners of heritage structures, contractors, carpenters and masons.

by J. Eleazar R. Bersales, USC Press

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