Professional Practice
Does maintaining a building add to its value?
What is the significance of building maintenance to the value of religious structures like the mosque?
Fadeelah Shittu
Does maintaining a building add to its value?
Dear Fadeelah,

It really depends on what you mean when you say "value" of a structure; I'm assuming that you're thinking of cultural importance, historical significance and its importance in the religious life of the place.

When I think of 'building maintenance', I think of repairs, such as those that may be done by the imam and mosque caretaker by collecting money from the people. In most historic mosques, however, this would reduce the historical value of structure, while it may increase the use of the mosque. And, if not done with the right resources, it may damage the building.

Another example, not from mosques, is the 'upgrading' of the Sana'a mud-brick high-rises; when they put in modern plumbing, the buildings began to crumble. That's maintenance, again, that destroys the historic value.

Restoration is a modern concept. Throughout history people were only concerned about maintenance and matching something to the current fashion. That's why in most classical Ottoman mosques (the ones that have not been restored back to the 'original') you'll see neo-baroque paintings decorating the walls. Now, does that reduce the value of the structure? According to contemporary historians, yes. According to the people who lived at that time; no.

Ozgur Basak Alkan
Does maintaining a building add to its value?
Hi Fadeelah,

Regular maintenance is essential for any building, not just religious. Do you not maintain your own house? Why do you do so? Regular maintenance maintains the use value of the building, as well as general architectural value, if done properly. However, in the case of a historic mosque, the historic value may degenerate. Ozgur has certainly discussed this effectively.
Shubhru Gupta


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