Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 1 Number 1 March 1995

View looking along the east Gap, showing the completed piano nobile in its context with the new floors and lift. (photo Dennis Gilbert)


See: 'Restoration of the Historic Fabric of Burlington House and the Main Galleries, Royal Academy of Arts, London' by Julian Harrap


Conservation - Is There No Limit? - A Review Bemard Feilden

Restoration to Conservation: The Study and Treatment of Historic Buildings and Monuments in Britain David Mason and Vincent Shacklock

The Role of Paint Analysis in the Historic Interior Patrick Baty

Historic Parks and Gardens - Listing, Awareness and the Future Judith Roberts

Surface Analysis of Architectural Terracotta C.R. Moynehan, G. C. Allen, I. T. Brown, S.R. Church, J. Beavis and J. Ashurst

Restoration of the Historic Fabric of Burlington House and the Main Galleries, Royal Academy of Arts, London Julian Harrap


Conservation – Is There No Limit? – A Review

Bernard Feilden


Conservation practitioners should be positive and proactive. We want to preserve our heritage in order to make the best use of it, and as trustees hand it on to the next generation. Although they will inevitably have a slightly different viewpoint, this positive approach should prevent us becoming slaves to the past. Our role is that of tender lovers of historic buildings.

Conservation has gone through several evolutionary stages and is still evolving. In Europe an appreciation of the past may be said to have started with the Florentine Petrach, whilst in England the Society of Antiquaries of London, founded in 1701, played a vital role that led to the saving of the medieval bars (gates) and walls in York.

As a result of the studies of Stuart and Revett at the end of the eighteenth century, followed by Penrose in the nineteenth century, buildings were preserved with an emphasis on archaeology, as enshrined in the manifesto of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). In this first phase outstanding single buildings were the centre of concern in the United Kingdom.

After the Second World War 'scientific' input into the field of museum and art conservation had parallel results in the field of building conservation, itself becoming a multi-disciplinary activity. In this context the term 'scientific' includes academic studies in art history and archaeology, as well as the impact of the natural sciences such as chemistry. Scientific conservation might therefore be considered as the second phase.

Following the creation of the SPAB in 1877, the Ancient Monuments Society was founded in 1924, the Georgian Group in 1937, and the Civic Trust in 1957 as an umbrella to numerous local amenity societies. The Victorian Society was founded a year later, and latterly DOCOMOMO-UK (Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement) in 1990. The Association for Studies in the Conservation of Historic Buildings was formed in 1968 to raise technical standards, whilst the SPAB continued to act as our conscience, to hold valuable short courses and to establish practical training for professionals through the Lethaby Scholarships and, more recently, for craftspersons through the William Morris Craft Fellowships. The Conservation Movement was gathering momentum.

The third phase was crystallized in the Civic Amenities Act of 1967, which legalised the 'group value' of buildings and acknowledged the importance of area conservation. Conservation areas were designated and received additional powers as time went on.

At the same time the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was arranging meetings of experts concerned with conservation, and in Venice in 1964 they drafted a Charter that in 1966 was adopted by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) as their Venice Charter. Since then ICOMOS had produced the Florence Charter (1984) on landscapes and gardens, the Washington Charter (1987) on historic towns and urban areas, the Lausanne Charter (1990) on the archaeological heritage, and the Columbo Guidelines (1993) for education and training in the conservation of monuments, ensembles and sites. The Council of Europe was also active, and designated 1975 as Architectural Heritage Year with the Civic Trust taking a leading role in organizing awards in the United Kingdom. This activity culminated in a major conference in Amsterdam and produced the Declaration of Amsterdam. This gave great encouragement to those concerned with urban conservation, as it stated that conservation considerations should rank as equal in town planning with those of transportation. It will have taken our Government some twenty years to realise the wisdom of this Declaration.

Architectural Heritage Year spurred the Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation (COTAC) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to do something about training for architectural conservation. A working party was formed, and in 1975 a report was produced that led to the formation of three courses for conservation: at Leicester, Liverpool and the London Architectural Association. The report was significant in that it recognised the role of building surveyors, and that it recommended that every architectural office should have at least one person qualified in architectural conservation.

The report was limited, however, in that it only dealt with architectural education. It was adopted by the RIBA, but without much understanding of its content and with a certain latent hostility from prima donna architects who could not conceive that the multi-disciplinary approach in conservation would not reduce their professional position. This latent hostility had negative results for the profession of architecture and practice of conservation as now many offices find that at least half of their workload comes from conservation. Sadly they often have no one who fully understands conservation on their staff, so the quality of their work suffers.

COTAC now lists some 29 courses relating to architectural conservation. Some of these courses are for craftspersons, whilst others offer full-time training for multi-disciplinary groups consisting of architects, engineers, art and architectural historians, archaeologists, town planners and contractors.

In order to help practitioners (and students) COTAC has drafted profiles of the 'professionals' normally involved in a conservation project. It defines a 'professional' as any person who makes an intellectual, artistic or practical contribution to a conservation project and, together with the City and Guilds and the Construction Industries Training Board (CITB), is establishing craft standards in conservation.

Conservation is also now climbing up to the big question of 'sustainable development'. Certainly by producing the skills that can rehabilitate or refurbish a sound building from the recent past it can prolong its life – contributing to a saving of energy, money and materials. Besides saving energy it will reduce the production of carbon dioxide and hence the coming greenhouse effect.

What is needed to provide the basis for a consensus among administrators and professionals is a common basic course in conservation at tertiary level to eliminate the walls of vested interest and misunderstanding that surround the old professions.


Bernard M. Feilden J.I, CBE, D Univ, D Litt, FSA, Hon FAIA, AA Dip (Hons), FRIBA.

Formerly Director of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), Rome.


Restoration to Conservation

The Study and Treatment of Historic Buildings and Monuments in Britain

David Mason and Vincent Shacklock


This paper sets out to analyse the growth of the modern idea of conservation since its origins in the mid-nineteenth century. It is often supposed that restoration and conservation are inherently dissimilar, the one belonging to a misguided and over-confident past age, the other to a more responsible and respectful present. In reality, the relationship between the two concepts is more complex than this, and the artistic and cultural background in which such a relationship has developed demands deeper and more detailed study. It is the authors’ intention to invite the reader to set aside some conventional suppositions about the nature of such ideas as conservation, restoration and repair, and to consider the contribution of architects and critics working in a more scientific scholarly tradition, as well as those followers of Ruskin who played such a key role in determining our particular approach to the preservation, use and enhancement of historical architecture.


David Mason BA(Hons), MA(Arch Cons)

David Mason is a Fine Arts graduate. He worked in sculpture conservation for several years before being appointed Junior Research Fellow in Conservation at De Montfort University.

Vincent Shacklock is a landscape architect and town planner. He is Director of the Centre for Conservation Studies, De Montfort University.


The Centre for Conservation Studies carries out a broad range of research in Architectural and Garden Conservation and related fields. The Centre is closely involved in teaching on the MA Architectural Conservation post-graduate degree course at De Montfort University.


The Role of Paint Analysis in the Historic Interior

Patrick Baty


Are the historic houses that are open to the public displayed in an objective manner? In spite of the research carried out on their contents, it appears that the basis for the decoration of their walls is often less thorough. Unless the reasons for the scheme for decoration are made clear, it may be assumed that the selected and applied colours relate to the earlier appearance of the room.

An account is given of the techniques that exist for the accurate investigation of early painted surfaces. The advantages of paint analysis are discussed and reasons suggested for the apparent reluctance of some to adopt them. The obsolete process of carrying out a ‘paint scrape’ is shown to be of no value in the accurate determination of an early paint colour. Whilst there is nothing wrong with decoration for its own sake, the results should not be passed off as the result of analysis and research.


Patrick Baty BA(Hons)

Patrick Baty runs a small specialist paint business, Papers and Paints Limited, in London. He has carried out extensive research into the architectural use of paint and colour, and his degree was centred on a dissertation entitled Methods and Materials of the Housepainter: 1660-1850. He lectures widely and has published a number of articles.


Historic Parks and Gardens

Listing, Awareness and the Future

Judith Roberts


This paper reviews the work undertaken on English Heritage’s ‘Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England’ over the past decade. The paper assesses the influence of the Register on public perception of historic parks and gardens, on conservation thinking and decision making, and concludes by looking to the future and identifying new questions and approaches to describing, recording and conserving the historic landscape.


Judith Roberts BA(Hons), MA(Conservation Studies), PhD
Dr Judith Roberts is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, the University of York, where she is Co-ordinator of the Landscape Research Unit, which specializes in survey work relating to the study of historic parks and gardens, and the study of vernacular gardens.


Surface Analysis of Architectural Terracotta

C.R. Moynehan, G.C. Allen, I.T. Brown, S.R. Church, J. Beavis AND J. Ashurst


The great quantity of buildings faced with architectural terracotta and faience, principally constructed between 1860 and 1930, now present a major problem in terms of repair, maintenance and conservation. As part of a study into the nature of soiling on terracotta, and the effects of different cleaning methods, examples have been studied using a variety of surface analytical and conventional chemical techniques. These include scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray analysis (SEM-EDX), secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), atomic absorption (AAS) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS).

Aluminium and silicon have been identified as the major elemental components of terracotta, with iron and calcium present in smaller amounts, and trace levels of potassium, magnesium and titanium. More iron is present in red terracotta than the buff variety; the reverse is true for titanium. The major crystalline species are, cristobalite and mullite.

Soiling may be attributed to the elements calcium, sulphur and chlorine, although pulverised fuel ash (PFA) and iron-rich particles have also been found incorporated into the surface layer. The latter are possibly generated by blast furnace activity.

The treatment of terracotta with a proprietary hydrofluoric acid cleaning solution has been shown to enlarge the surface pores, increasing the potential for damage due to water penetration. Large amounts of fluorine remain on the surface after this treatment, even following prolonged rinsing, penetrating to a considerable depth. Silicon and potassium appear to have been most affected by the treatment; calcium, iron and titanium less so.


Chris Moynehan gained both his BSc in chemistry and MSc in analytical chemistry at Bristol University, the latter with a thesis based upon the work described above. He is currently studying for a PhD in materials science at the Interface Analysis Centre (IAC), Bristol, investigating corrosion inhibitors for museum artefacts.

Geoffrey Allen is Professor of Materials Science and Deputy Director of the IAC. His research focuses on the physics and chemistry of materials, including surface science, oxidation and corrosion studies, interfacial reactions and wear-resistant coatings. He has published over 180 papers.

Ivan Brown gained his BSc from Witwatersrand University in South Africa, and an MSc from Bristol University. He is involved in imaging SIMS analysis of surfaces, which has led to an interest in surface coatings with possible applications to the building industry.

Simon Church gained both his BSc and PhD in chemistry at Bristol University. Current research interests include the study of building materials exposed to corrosive gases commonly found in polluted atmospheres, using a purpose-built reaction chamber.

John Beavis is a researcher at the Department of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University. His interests include the study of historic artefacts and buildings, including the appraisal of treatment procedures for conservation.

John Ashurst is a professor and consultant at Historic Building and Site Services, Bournemouth. He is an acknowledged expert on the conservation and cleaning of many, building materials, including terracotta, and has published numerous books and articles.

The Interface Analysis Centre was set up at Bristol University in 1990 to study the chemical and physical reactions that occur on the uppermost surface layers of materials. Investigations have included the corrosion of metals, such as lead, aluminium and steel, and the weathering of limestones and sandstones, particularly when exposed to corrosive environments. Other studies have ranged from historic artefacts to printed circuit boards.


Restoration of the Historic Fabric of Burlington House and the Main Galleries, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Julian Harrap


An account of the conservation and restoration work carried out as part of a major programme of improvements at the Royal Academy of Arts. The project was carried out between 1989 and 1992 by Sir Norman Foster & Partners and Julian Harrap Architects who were jointly awarded the RIBA's National Award for Architecture 1992. This is the first detailed account of the conservation programme.


Julian Harrap Dip Arch, RIBA, FRSA

Julian Harrap worked in the field of contemporary design in the practice of Sir James Stirling between 1968 and 1974. He subsequently established his own practice, and developed his particular interest in design, technology and materials, especially as applied to historic buildings and their relationship with contemporary work.

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