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Design

How to Save a Castle

Short of encasing a historic building in glass, no preservation effort can both save a structure and leave it exactly as it was.
Villamartin Museum
Villamartin MuseumMariano Copete Franco/Archilovers

The Matrera Castle in Villamartin, Spain, has endured weather and war since the 9th century. Three years ago, a storm badly damaged the structure, threatening its stability and making an intervention necessary. According to critics and preservationists, however, the effort to save the Andalusian fortress from ruin instead hastened its demise.  

Where once the castle’s time-tossed battlements jutted up into the Spanish sky, new limestone walls emerged. The restoration altered the crumbling castle, introducing a significant structure outlining and framing the fortress’s original mass, in the name of historic preservation.