10. REHABILATION PROPOSALS


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Drawing of woman standing in a renovated kitchen.

Fig. 10.1 - Rehabilitation case study: interior perspective.


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RENOVATING HISTORIC STRUCTURES IN BARRIO HISTORICO.

An important goal of our Master Plan for the Barrio is the eventual renovation and/or rehabilitation of its historic structures and the urban spaces they define.

The Barrio contains a relatively narrow range of building types (see measured drawings of typical examples of each of the four prevailing types found in Spanish/Mexican subarea in Chapter 2 above). However, their present range of condition is very wide, from almost perfect preservation to nearly total dilapidation. Structures in all states of repair can be reasonable targets for the renovation/rehabilitation process. The almost total ruin may require almost total rebuilding. The basic environment amenities (plumbing, cooking, heating, and cooling) of all structures should be brought up to current minimum standards. Provided this has been done, many structures which are in better condition may require no more than a few coats of plaster and paint on street and patio facades.

Owners of structures in the "part of the scene" or "background building" category may reasonably decide on restoration of street and patio facedes, while adapting interior spaces to correspond to contemporary conceptions of space and amenity. When economically feasible for them to do so, owners of buildings which constitute particularly excellent examples of the style of their period, will choose to invest the needed time and money to restore both facades and interiors to a carefully researched original condition, even to the eventual use of authentic period hardward and furniture.

Regardless of the degree of preservation selected in a given case, however, the special character and qualities of the historic architecture of the Barrio should be preserved and retained in the restoration or rehabilitation of individual structures, especially on visible exteriors (street, side or patio facades). This by no means excludes variety or innovation. Examples from other historic districts show that a creative combination of contemporary technology and design with the materials and space conceptions of the past can be extremely effective.

In order to demonstrate the possibilities of rehabilitating or restoring the Barrio's historic structures, we decided to carry out a preliminary design for the rehabilitation of an existing adobe row house of the Spanish/Mexican period. This project is reported in the text and drawings which follow.

Fig. 10.1 - Rehabilitation case study: interior perspective.


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A row house on the east side of Meyer Avenue, a few doors north of Kennedy Street, was selected as the subject for this case study. This house had been previously measured as part of our historical/architectural analysis of the Barrio (see photographs and measured drawings of "Row House/Plan Type I," in Chapter 2 above).

The adobe walls of the house are, for the most part, structurally sound except for the west-facing street wall, which should be dismantled and rebuilt in concrete block, carefully replacing existing door and window casings. The present exterior stucco finish is in need of extensive repair both front and rear. The parapet cap-course is missing and should be replaced; it was probably removed when the elevated corrugated iron hip roof was added over the original flat mud roof at a later time. Various more recent additions, such as juction boxes, clutter wall surfaces and must be removed.

An original ceiling remains of broad boards spanning between exposed beams of hand-hewn dimensioned timber. The original flat mud roof is gone. That portion of this original roof located over the "front room" originally drained through canales toward the street side, as shown in nineteenth century photographs (Fig. 2.8), but there is no longer any sign of these canales. A sloping second "umbrello" roof of corrugated iron over timber joists was added at a later date above the original lower mud roof but now lets in the weather through many holes.

Original door and window casings all remain but need repair. All windows and doors are missing and must be replaced. The original floor, which consisted of tongue and groove boards on wood sleepers over tamped earth, has rotted out in places and should be replaced. As typical in the Barrio, the house contained no inside plumbing of any kind. A single water tap and small block of outdoor privies were located in the common rear patio for the joint use of occupants of the entire row of contiguous row houses.

Preliminary rehabilitation plans have been developed for the house. They show how this adobe row house structure, presently in a condition of near dilapidation, can be remodelled on a modest budget into a one-bedroom unit with all modern amenities to fully meet the spatial and environmental needs of today, while retaining the spirit and style of the Barrio's Spanish/Mexican period.

The "front room," originally intended to serve as a general-purpose "living space" of the house, has been retained as such. The "middle room," initially utilized as a sleeping space, has been adapted as a multipurpose utility core containing kitchen, bathroom and a small mechanical room, plus corridor space leading to the rear of the house. The "back room," originally intended for cooking, new serves as a study/bedroom with direct access to the private outdoor living space of the patio.

The original ceilings and walls have been retained and are to be repaired or replaced only as necessary. Existing corner fireplaces in the front and middle rooms have been restored to working condition and are utilized as focal points for the new living room and kitchen spaces. Several alcoves


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Plan, East Elevation, West Elevation.

Fig. 10.2 - Rehabilitation case study: plan and elevations.


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Section A, Section B.

Fig. 10.3 - Rehabilitation case study: longitudinal sections.


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Structural details, Section C, Section D.

Fig. 10.4 - Rehabilitation case study: transverse sections and structural details.


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for closets or shelving have been opened up in the thicknesses of the existing two-foot adobe walls and are consistent in location and size with the proportion of solids to voids typical of the Spanish/Mexican style.

The existing and damaged second roof has been entirely removed. A new roof of plywood sheathing on light steel bar-joists at four-foot centers replaces it as an "umbrella" of protection for the fragile adobe walls and timber ceilings beneath. This new upper roof is pitched to drain through canales, as before, both toward the street and the patio. Two north-facing clerestory skylights aligned over the kitchen and over the study area of the bedroom provide additional daylighting to the darker portions of the interior. The bedroom skylight stops well short of the east parapet and will not be visible from the patio.

The existing floor has been removed, the ground excavated, and a thin concrete slab poured. A new floor, detailed to match the old one has been laid on sleepers over the slab.

To help exploit the possibilities of outdoor-indoor living in the more benign spring and fall seasons of Tucson's climate, an individual patio space is provided in the rear of the unit. New seven-foot side walls provide privacy with respect to adjacent dwelling units in the block. An area of hard paving provides a suitable location for outdoor dining, and an evergreen is located to cast shade over a portion of this "out-door room" at midday in warmer weather.

Richard Phillips

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