Santa Maria Formosa, Facades, 1995-96

Santa Maria Formosa had been given a new roof in 1976, but the outer walls were disfigured by black incrustations. This is one of the earliest of eight churches built on the lagoon, in the seventh century. Mauro Codussi remodelled it in 1492 and the façades were added later, both benefactions of the Cappello family. Work began with the canal façade, built of Istrian stone. The damage was being compounded by movement of the gable stonework owing to the rusting of the metal cramps. The stonework was becoming detached from the building and rainwater was leaking in from a higher level. No sooner had the cleaning and consolidation work been completed than it was discovered that the north façade, built of poorer stone, was suffering for similar reasons. The restoration work became an important study site for the ICCROM/UNESCO course on stonework conservation. There was no evidence of previous restorations to either façade and there were a variety of materials, presenting a range of problems.

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