The first case study in the ‘production of heritage’ is the Palacio Pereira in Santiago de Chile. It deals with the conservation and transformation of a magnificent ruin and the pressures of oscillating between ‘restore’ and ‘preserve’. The similarities and differences in intent and execution clarify the consequences of particular ideologies down to the smallest detail. The reading and interpretation of William Morris was instrumental in winning the open architectural competition for the Palacio, instigated as one of two projects that commemorated the bicentenary of the Chilean Republic.

This case study contains verbatim a series of strategic context documents as well as detailed responses to conservation issues that arose after winning the project, consolidating the working strategy, and work on site. Inserted between the texts a contextual narrative positions the documents. In presenting the correspondence in this way, we aim to show how the issues and inconsistencies around language and meaning were negotiated within a project context. More importantly, we show how influential the intangible, often unspoken value systems that underpin stakeholders’ understandings of heritage, and how a perspective on the legacies of conservation philosophes around identity, integrity and value can shape the technical responses to a highly significant, fragile building.