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Saint Scholastica at the Port

Restoration and rehabilitation from rising damp

  • Client:
    Archdiocese of Bari-Bitonto
  • Year:
  • Type:
  • Status:
    finished work
  • Team:
    archt. Fernando Russo
  • Consultants:
    Studio Forme - Rome
  • Surface:
    380 square meters
  • Location:
    Bari - Italy

The church of Santa Scolastica is located on an area of great archeological interest because some excavations, carried out both at the beginning of the century that recently, have revealed the presence of stretches of urban fortifications and tombs dating back to the 4th century B.C. (before Christ). It is assumed that in this area has been placed the original nucleus of Bari. The church has three naves divided by five pillars, on which are set the round arches; in the central part the church is covered by a barrel vault, in the two lateral parts by cross vaults arranged inline and connected by round arches. The central nave terminates in the North with the presbytery, delimited by a balustrade inflected in polychrome marble from the crypt of the Basilica of San Nicola.
Along the two side aisles there were leavings of the ancient eighteenth-century floor made in polychrome earthenware with geometric and floral motifs, that have been meticulously restored and integrated, while in the nave was present a terracotta flooring of the fifties, added after the collapse of the nave because of the German bombardment of the port of Bari. All around the perimeter which constitutes the aisles there was a band of polychrome majolica that has been restored in areas interrupted as in correspondence with the missing altars. The rising damp was one of the fundamental causes of evident deterioration along all the walls and on the flooring, as well as on internal plasters. The terracotta tiles floor of the nave was of poor quality, it was cracked and swollen in several parts, as also the majolica and terracotta tiles pavements showed strong signs of deterioration. Further factor of degradation it can be reported also in the intervention of laying of the "new" majolica tiles in correspondence to the areas on which were placed the two altars of the side aisles. This necessarily has damaged the original system by replacing more majolicas and by altering the overview of the decoration.
The restoration project has involved all the flooring and the internal plasters and especially the painting of the entire church executed in lime-based with colors similar to the existing ones. The walls and the vaults with decorative stuccoes were plastered, following the scraping of old paints, with special non-shrinkage mortars and final colour-wash painting with fixative. The flooring of the nave was reconstructed through slabs of Carrara marble, in neutral shade to connect with majolica floors present on the side aisles.
The new floor consists of large square slabs that enhance the longitudinal shape of the nave, and from which start transversal lines according to a binary rhythm, always with the same colorimetry. The side pavements have been carefully renovated after removal of the old cement mixes, prior cleaning, preventive consolidation; and then proceed to the removing and subsequent stages of cleaning, restoration and consolidation. The gaps have been integrated with new handmade majolicas and with the same motifs of the pre-existing. (translated by Irene Bonifacino)