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  • Writer's pictureWanja Wedekind

On the trail of the past for sustainable building of the future

Armenia's historic architecture holds a special treasure. Behind the carefully and artistically designed architectural surfaces of pre-faced tuff and basalt stones lies a material that gives Armenian architecture its true durability. It has withstood the millennia, numerous earthquakes, but also the destruction of the genocide against the Armenians in 1915-1916.

This resistant material is a compactly compacted cast or rammed masonry, at least half of which is made of an extremely resistant mortar. This mortar makes the monuments monolithic structures on the inside. This and their architectural design, often in the form of a compact dome, make the historic Armenian construction method virtually earthquake-proof.

First investigations (Wedekind et al. 2020) have shown that it is a hydraulic mortar, comparable to the Roman Opus Caementicium, as already noted by Strzygowski (1918).

In June, ACS started another research campaign in Armenia in order to trace the construction technology and especially the mortar technology, which could be of revolutionary use also for the current building construction. This is because historic concrete only requires burnt lime as a binder and has much more favorable thermal insulation properties than contemporary concrete. The carbon footprint of the historic material is also about 50% more favorable than that of Portland cement. Innovative restoration science is making a significant contribution to climate protection in this way.

Wedekind W, Harutyunyan E, Siegesmund, S (2020) The Cathedral-ruins of Zvartnots and Avan (Armenia) - a comparative study on decay and restoration. In: Monument Future: Decay and Conservation of Stone - Proceedings of the 14th International Congress on the Deterioration and Conservation of Stone, Publisher: Mitteldeutscher Verlag GmbH, Halle (Saale), p.137-144.

Strzygowski J (1918) The architectural art of the Armenians and Europe. Works of the Institute of Art History of the University of Vienna, Publisher: Kunstverlag Anton Schroll & Co. GmbH in Vienna, Vienna.

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