Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 2 Number 2 July 1996

front22.gif (42353 bytes) Gordon Cullen's contribution to the Campaign to save Christ Church, Spitalfields from a threat of demolition. (Courtesy of the Hawksmoor Committee.)

 

See: 'The Campaigns for Christ Church, Spitalfields and Nicholas Hawksmoor, 1960-1995' by Elizabeth Young

Contents:

Integrity and Integration: Evolution and Rehabilitation in the City - Part One Gerald Dix

The Campaigns for Christ Church, Spitalfields and Nicholas Hawksmoor, 1960-1995 Elizabeth Young

A Landscape Strategy for the Thames Kim Wilkie

Viewpoint: A Picture of the Conservation Sector Stephen Drewer and Mark Steel

Asbestos: An Imminent Hazard Laurie Kazan-Allen

Restoration of Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral John Phillips

 

Editorial
In Sickness and In Health
David Watt

 

Papers in previous issues of the Journal have, at times, followed themes that have made the task of introducing them relatively straight-forward. In the present issue there is no such theme, but, instead, its content portrays a series of successes and failures, both past and present, that will provide lessons for those involved in conservation today.

In Asbestos: An Imminent Hazard, Laurie Kazan-Allen, head of Jerome Consultants, an organization specializing in asbestos research, and editor of the British Asbestos Newsletter, makes an impassioned argument for asbestos to be taken seriously and for those dealing with conservation projects to be aware of the implications of its earlier usage.

Professor Gerald Dix, in the first of two parts to Integrity and Integration: Evolution and Rehabilitation in the City, offers a timely and thought-provoking look at urban conservation, and how the future of our cities hangs in the balance. The second part to this paper, looking at the context in which such work is taking place, will appear in the November issue of the Journal.

As an infrequent visitor to London, one of its most undersold architectural experiences is Bentley's Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral. John Phillips, its present surveyor, has provided an informative paper explaining the thoughtful way in which the work is progressing and the attention being given to detail. But it is sad to hear, as so often happens these days, that the current national disgrace over grant assistance might affect future work, as it seems likely to do with other worthwhile projects.

On a less gloomy note is the story of Christ Church, Spitalfields, told in a very personal paper by Elizabeth Young, one of the founders of the Hawksmoor Committee and long-time campaigner for fine architecture. Again, the successes of this project demonstrate the importance of adopting a long-term perspective, and mustering the 'troops' in an organized and resourceful manner.

In the first of our shorter 'viewpoints', Stephen Drewer and Mark Steel, both of the University of the West of England in Bristol, present the findings of their research into Britain's conservation industry. First presented at Cobra '95, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Construction and Building Research Conference, this work should be of particular interest to those involved with craft training.

The final paper, A Landscape Strategy for the Thames, demonstrates clearly that places and landscapes are, at last, being valued in their own right and as important adjuncts to, or the sole motivation for, great architecture. What Kim Wilkie has achieved, both in his work and in this paper, should be the inspiration for others in identifying the cultural significances of their surroundings and helping to develop fresh approaches to planning and design. 

 

Integrity and Integration

Evolution and Rehabilitation in the City – Part One
Gerald Dix

 

This paper comprises an examination of the relationship between architecture, civic design, conservation and environmental rehabilitation in the city. This is a complicated relationship, concerned as much with the economic, social and cultural life of a place as it is with its built form, and one that is the subject of strong feelings. Consideration is given to a number of examples, drawing on the experience of several countries sharing a concern with urban conservation and renewal. It is argued that architectural quality and the contribution that is made to the townscape must be the principal concerns in urban development and conservation, and that in the urban scene the whole is invariably of greater importance than the sum of the parts. All buildings should be used to their best advantage in an evolutionary process in which there is a place for both new and old, provided that each is respected for what it has to offer in the long-term interests of the community. Part Two of this paper will appear in the next issue of the Journal.

 

Gerald Dix MLA, BA, DipTP, HonDEng, FRTPI, RIBA
Gerald Dix is currently Emeritus Professor of Civic Design in the University of Liverpool, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, and Honorary Council Member of the Association for the Protection of the Mountain Summer Resort and the Eight Outer Temples.

 

The Campaigns for Christ Church, Spitalfields and Nicholas Hawksmoor, 1960-1995
Elizabeth Young

 

The following paper gives a first-hand account of the Hawksmoor Committee's efforts, beginning in 1960, to save Christ Church, Spitalfields from a threat of demolition, and to establish Nicholas Hawksmoor, its architect, in the pantheon of British architects. The latter purpose was secured by 1966; but although Christ Church's future became safe, sufficient funds for full restoration are only now in sight.

In 1995, English Heritage offered nearly half a million pounds; then in April 1996, the National Heritage Memorial Fund announced £2,441,500 for Christ Church, and a further £500,000 came as a gift from the Monument Trust of the Sainsbury family charitable trusts. Even these huge sums will not be enough to complete the necessary works, and fundraising will need to continue – for the crypt, the organ and the churchyard. The Friends of Christ Church, Spitalfields have launched an appeal for the rest. Work will now start later this year and the fabric should be complete for the millennium.

Important buildings, it is argued, need bodies of 'Friends', both w ensure their survival and to provide the alternative and additional uses that the 'system', however well it operates, cannot.

 

Elizabeth Young MA
With others, she founded the Hawksmoor Committee in 1961, when Christ Church, Spitalfields and St Anne's, Limehouse had come under direct threat.  She has been Chairman of the Friends of St George's, Bloomsbury, as well as Vice-Chairman of the Friends of Christ Church, Spitalfields (where she is now a Patron), and is on the Committee of the Friends of the City Churches. For 11 years she was a member of the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches.

 

A Landscape Strategy for the Thames
Kim Wilkie

 

This paper is derived from the Reflection Riding Memorial Lecture delivered by Kim Wilkie to the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce in June 1994.

The Thames Landscape Strategy attempts to show a new approach to planning our cities, based on the principles of Alexander Pope. Landscape is a cultural, as well as a Visual, concept that covers the perception of our surroundings filtered through stories and associations. Pope explained that 'all must be adapted to the Genius and the Use of the Place and the Beauties not forced into it, but resulting from it'. The Thames between Hampton and Kew is a fine example of the interaction of natural factors, history, cultural associations and contemporary uses, which creates one of the great urban landscapes of the world. The Strategy demonstrates a way of conserving the rich diversity of the landscape we have inherited, and carrying the inspiration into planning and design for the next one hundred years.

 

Kim Wilkie MA, MLA, ALI
Kim Wilkie is the principal of Kim Wilkie Environmental Design. The practice specializes in breathing new life into historic land- and townscapes.

 

Viewpoint: A Picture of the Conservation Sector
Stephen Drewer and Mark Steel

 

This paper offers a statistical insight into a sample of over 100 firms active in the conservation sector. A broad range of specialisms has been taken, including masons, glaziers and ironmongers, as well as those who work with brick, plaster and timber. All firms were asked a range of questions regarding the demand for their skills, the size and age of their company, and the degree of training provided for craft-skilled employees.

The full findings of this study were presented at the Cobra '95 conference and are published in the conference proceedings.

 

Stephen Drewer BA(Hons), PhD
Director of Studies for Research in the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Lecturer in the economics of construction, with principal research interests in the adaptation of the construction process to alternative technologies.

Mark Steel BA(How), PhD
Lecturer in the Department of Building Surveying at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Principal teaching is in real estate economics and architectural history, with research interests in the economics of conservation.

 

Asbestos: An Imminent Hazard
Laurie Kazan-Allen

 

The presence of asbestos within the British infrastructure is a problem that cannot be ignored. Widescale use of asbestos-containing building products for fireproofing, acoustic and thermal insulation, and condensation protection from the 1920s to the 1970s means that the size of the problem is enormous. Predictions made in 1995 detail an explosion in the number of asbestos-related deaths that will occur in Britain well into the next century. Recent British legislation reinforces the responsibility previously assigned to landlords, occupiers, contractors and building professionals for the health and safety of building users. The background to the above situation, together with current thinking on asbestos removal and containment procedures, are discussed.

The presence of asbestos-containing materials should not be considered solely in relation to modem buildings; their use in historic buildings during earlier alteration or conversion may now pose a significant problem for those responsible for such buildings and their conservation.

 

Laurie Kazan-Allen BA (cum laude), DMS (with distinction)
Laurie Kazan-Allen heads Jerome Consultants, an independent organization specializing in the field of asbestos research. She edits a quarterly publication entitled the British Asbestos Newsletter (BAN), which is distributed worldwide to solicitors, victim support groups, academics, medical personnel and research bodies.

 

Restoration of Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral
John Phillips

 

This paper provides an account of the conservation and restoration work carried out at Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral in London since the launch of an appeal in 1976 when the author was appointed Surveyor to the Fabric. Prior to this date, only minor maintenance and war damage repairs had been carried out since the erection of the cathedral at the turn of the century.

 

John Phillips RIBA
John Phillips was educated in London and undertook his architectural training at the Northern Polytechnic. He worked for Milner and Craze on church restorations from 1948 to 1952. Following three years in a general architectural office (Douglas J. D. Wood) he set up his own practice in 1955.

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