Heritage Conservation: Applying Scientific Method in Architecture The Lingayen Capitol Building (1918)

Rene Luis S. Mata


The practice of Heritage Conservation in the context of the regular practice of architecture has either been largely misunderstood or, at worse, regarded as architecture with an outdated twist. Far too many practicing architects see no need or utility for conservation and regard it as useless nostalgia and retrograde. The conservation and restoration of old structures in practical construction terms could even be qualified as plain “retrofitting” and expensive.

It is within scientific parameters that we approach the special branch of architectural practice called Heritage Conservation, and its preservation of human – in this case Philippine – values. The important link that architecture has as a manifestation of Philippine Identity can only be seen if we regard the expression of space as socio-cultural in nature, including the intangible connections of the design process to our own Philippine value systems and concepts. How we assess a heritage resource using the scientific method, in this case a heritage structure or site, will only help but aid in its judicious conservation and future use as a contemporary functioning building.  The interpretation of this assessment aids us in the proper adaptive re-use of the historic building without losing its heritage value.

The Capitol Building of Lingayen, Pangasinan (1918), an outstanding example of Philippine state architecture in the American Colonial Period, will be the test case. The building is also embodied in the official provincial seal and is of historical value, and thus is of great heritage value to the people of Pangasinan as a symbol of their ethnic- and self-identity.

The building functions today as a typical capitol building of a prosperous province, with its typical problems found in almost all government buildings of overcrowding, misuse and chronic lack of maintenance - perhaps also a manifestation of the lack of appreciation of state architecture as heritage.  The conservation and restoration of this building type, retaining its heritage value without compromising its continued function as the prime administrative center of Pangasinan, will be the topic of this paper.

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