Sustainable interventions: Rehabilitation of old timber structures with traditional materialsIlharco, T., Paupério, E., Guedes, J., Costa, A. (2010). SB10mad - Sustainable building conference. Madrid, Spain.

The intervention in built heritage is a way of preserving cultural identity. Therefore, it demands special care and sensibility. In particular, the rehabilitation of old buildings concerns not only fa├žades, but all the structural elements, namely floors, roofs, and inside walls, as part of a more global and consistent heritage. However, most of the interventions on old buildings consist in the substitution of the structural elements instead of their rehabilitation. This situation results mostly of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the existing materials and (or) of the rehabilitation/strengthening techniques.
In general, the preservation of the structural elements results in benefits, not only in terms of heritage preservation, but also in the minimization of the interventions and their impact. However, even when this strategy is followed, the rehabilitation/strengthening techniques using traditional materials has been often ignored and substituted by techniques which use modern materials, frequently expensive and sometimes with doubtful efficiency. This situation is particularly common in old timber structures, namely roofs and floors, which exist all over the World, in some cases with many centuries. Therefore, an effort should be done to invert this situation i.e., to show the community that it is possible to preserve timber structures and, at the same time, to use traditional materials and techniques, leading to more sustained actions.
In order to promote sustainable interventions, contributing to a real maintenance of the built heritage and respecting the International charts and ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) recommendations, NCREP (1) (Nucleus for the Conservation and Rehabilitation of Buildings and Built Heritage, a team within FEUP - Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto) have been participating in many rehabilitation projects, analyzing the state of conservation of buildings and designing rehabilitation solutions, in particular using traditional materials, like wood and steel. The present paper will focus NCREP experience in the intervention of old timber structures, namely at Rodrigues de Freitas school, Valadares Palace, and Valongo and Corpus Christi churches.

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