Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 11 Number 2 July 2005

The opening of the Sydney Opera House in 1973. (Courtesy of Sydney Opera House)


See 'The Sydney Opera House: An Evolving Icon' by Patricia Hale and Susan Macdonald


The Sydney Opera House: An Evolving Icon Patricia Hale and Susan Macdonald

Conservation Plans and the Development Process Chris Miele

The Sandford Inventory of Earth Buildings as a Conservation Aid
Margaret Ford, Richard Griffiths and Linda Watson 

The Changing Facade of Magdalen College, Oxford Mary Thornbush and Heather Viles

The Holnicote Thatching Project  Bridget Litchfield

Restoring a Bosphorus Yalı  Dorothy Dinsmoor



Read the Editorial by Vincent Shacklockl


Abstracts and Author Information


The Sydney Opera House

An Evolving Icon 

Patricia Hale and Susan Macdonald


Despite only recently celebrating its 30th birthday, Sydney Opera House is undoubtedly one of the iconic architectural monuments of the twentieth century; it is a symbol of a nation and the most visited place in Australia. It is also Australia's busiest performing arts centre. This paper is the first of two papers outlining the history of Sydney Opera House and the current approach to its management and conservation, examining the framework for the building's care and ongoing adaptation in the face of pressures arising from tourism and changing performance technologies.

The recent re-engagement of architect Jorn Utzon provides opportunities for the evolution of Sydney Opera House to continue in the spirit of the architect's design philosophy. Given that the building was completed by others in 1973, seven years after Utzon's controversial departure, both the identification of the building's heritage significance and well-articulated policies for managing these values are critical. The paper will outline the framework for decision making at Sydney Opera House and introduce examples of how the current approach works in practice.


Patricia Hale BAHons, MA (Applied History)

Patricia is a historian who currently works at the NSW Heritage Office and is working with Susan Macdonald and others on the world heritage nomination of Sydney Opera House.

Susan Macdonald BSc(Arch), BArch, MA(Conservation Studies), RIBA

Susan trained as an architect in Australia before spending ten years in London. A former secretary of DOCOMOMO UK and committee member of Australia ICOMOS she has a particular interest in the conservation of twentieth-century places and has written three books on this subject. Susan is currently the Assistant Director at the NSW Heritage Office in Australia. 


Conservation Plans and the Development Process

Chris Miele


Conservation plans have been promoted in the United Kingdom for more than a decade, but there is to date no research to establish whether they are working as intended. Anecdotal evidence suggests they are not, and the author, who has prepared many plans, argues that the fault lies to some extent with the way the current guidelines are written. These should, he argues, be based on a more complex understanding of the development process, and he illustrates this point by reference to specific plans that he has prepared for different kinds of client. 



Dr Chris Miele is an architectural historian and chartered town planner who specializes in heritage matters. He has experience of all types of development and regeneration projects and a distinguished record of historical publications. He is currently Director of Planning and Historic Environment at RPS Planning, based in central London.


The Sandford Inventory of Earth Buildings as a Conservation Aid

Margaret Ford, Richard Griffiths and Linda Watson


The Sandford Inventory of Earth Buildings is an effective tool for characterizing and identifying earthen buildings in Sandford (Devon) and demonstrates the advantages of using a Geographical Information System (GIS) to integrate and analyse the differing data. A case study on a listed building reveals the problem of identifying cob buildings that have altered facades. The findings from the case studies on two non-listed buildings demonstrate the predictive ability of the inventory methodology to identify previously unidentified cob buildings using the triangular concept of combining documentary architectural and historic information with topographical factors to discover their location. The ability of the methodology employed by the Sandford Inventory to display cartographic, graphic, and photographic material could be used to enhance the list descriptions of cob buildings


Margaret Ford PhD

Visiting lecturer in architectural conservation and member of the Centre for Earthen Architecture, School of Architecture and Design, University of Plymouth; consultant to Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park Authorities.

Richard Griffiths PhD, MInstP

Research fellow in architectural energetics and member of the Centre for Earthen Architecture, School of Architecture and Design, University of Plymouth.

Linda Watson DipArch, ARB

Principal lecturer in architectural conservation and director of the Centre for Earthen Architecture, School of Architecture and Design, University of Plymouth; secretary to ICOMOS (UK) Earth Structures committee.


The Changing Facade of Magdalen College, Oxford

Reconstructing Long-Term Soiling Patterns from Archival Photographs and Traffic Records

Mary Thornbush and Heather Viles


Most studies in the area of stone soiling and decay research focus on relatively short periods, usually less than ten years. This study attempts to consider changes over a century using archival photographs, and to relate them to changes in traffic-related air pollution as recorded in surveys and monitoring data. The facade of Magdalen College is an often-photographed component of Oxford's cultural heritage. Its location adjacent to Magdalen Bridge, which is a major traffic artery into Oxford, makes it vulnerable to traffic-related pollution. Traffic surveys reveal a recent decline in traffic, dating from around the time of the Oxford Transport Strategy, only partly matched by nitrogen dioxide reductions. The photographic records show the facade of Magdalen College to be blackened well before traffic became a serious threat. The study illustrates the problems of the archival record, but also its value in providing some insight into long-term changes in air pollution and the consequences for cultural heritage.


Mary J. Thornbush Hon BSc, MSc

Mary Thornbush is a doctoral candidate in environmental geomorphology at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. Her research examines the weathering of historical limestone in central Oxford and the impacts of atmospheric gases from traffic pollution.

Heather A. Viles MA (Cantab), MA, DPhil (Oxon)

Heather Viles is Reader in Geomorphology at the University of Oxford and has carried out research on stone decay and rock weathering in a variety of environments over the past twenty years.


The Holnicote Thatching Project

Bridget Litchfield


This paper discusses the thatching works that have been undertaken on the National Trust's Holnicote Estate in West Somerset. Surveys of the estate's thatched properties were undertaken in 1999; these highlighted the need to carry out urgent remedial works on a number of roofs that had been leaking for some years. As a result, a specific project was set up in 2000 that provided a unique opportunity to implement a repair programme aimed at gaining a better understanding of the performance of thatch and thatching techniques. The three-year funded project encompassed the repairs to the roofs, documentary research and investigation of thatching materials and techniques, monitoring the performance of thatching straw, and the production of straw at the Holnicote Estate. Although the thatching project has ended in terms of specific funding, work continues on the estate in terms of repairs, monitoring, and straw production.


Bridget Litchfield BSc

Bridget Litchfield works for the National Trust as a building surveyor based in West Somerset, with responsibility for some 800 vernacular buildings at Holnicote. She is currently studying for a masters degree in the conservation of the historic environment at the College of Estate Management in Reading.


Restoring a Bosphorus Yalı

The Elusive Goal of Authenticity

Dorothy Dinsmoor


On the Asian shore of the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul, the eighteenth-century Sa'dullah Paşa yalı (waterside summer residence) stands as an instructive example of the successful application of international standards for authenticity in restoration, achieved within a complex set of circumstances. This yalı is one of a diminishing number of wooden shore residences of a specific type built by high Ottoman officials during the 200 years of the empire's decline. Designed expressly as the setting for spectacular festivals meant to impress the sultan and his European guests, these waterside houses occupy a unique place in architectural history. Their conservation is thus a matter for international concern.


Dorothy Dinsmoor AB, MSc

Dorothy Dinsmoor has a degree in art history from Vassar College and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from Columbia University (2002). Her research interests include Turkish vernacular architecture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She holds the position of architectural historian at The Simopia Foundation, which focuses on the documentation and conservation of mosaics. 

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