Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 3 Number 3 November 1997

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Rookery Building, Chicago, designed by Burnham and Root (1888)


See 'Holistic Interpretation of a City's Built Heritage: Experience from the Chicago Architecture Foundation' by Ted Newcomen


Propping Up Pisa – Part Two John B. Burland

Architectural Conservation: A Lawyer's Perspective Charles Mynors

Conservation and Development - A Study of the Production and Use of Lime in East Africa Stafford Holmes and Theo Schilderman

Holistic Interpretation of a City's Built Heritage: Experience from the Chicago Architecture Foundation Ted Newcomen

Conservation in a Multicultural Environment Michael Taylor


Breadth and Diversity
David Watt


As the principles and practice of architectural conservation become more formalized through education, training and professional status, it is evident that conservation cannot realistically be packaged or categorized as a single subject. The breadth and diversity of what we take to be 'conservation' – whether they be its strength or weakness – need therefore to be considered in how it is advanced and promoted.

Such breadth and diversity of subject are reflected in the content of this issue, with contributions covering engineering, interpretation and presentation, cultural values, production and application of traditional materials, and the law. These papers address matters of conservation at all levels, and together affirm its importance as a fundamental principle, rather than as a mere statement of intent.

In the second part of Propping Up Pisa, Professor John Burland looks at how the studies presented in Part One of his paper (Vol 3, No 2) have been used to achieve short-term stabilization of the Leaning Tower, and describes the development of a permanent solution.

The interpretation and presentation of buildings, monuments, places and landscapes is fast becoming an area in which those who are able to inspire and teach will play an increasingly important part in developing our understanding of the past and present. Taking people beyond the obvious in an exploration of a city's architecture is the subject of Ted Newcomen's paper Holistic Interpretation of a City's Built Heritage: Experience from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. In this, the lessons are exciting and rewarding.

For those towns and cities that support ethnic communities, the question of how to embrace and respond to the needs and inspirations of differing cultures, whilst retaining the intrinsic qualities of the setting, requires a level of understanding and commitment that challenges current priorities and responses. These qualities are shown by Michael Taylor in Conservation in a Multicultural Environment.

In Conservation and Development – A Study of the Production and Use of Lime in East Africa, Stafford Holmes and Theo Schilderman present a compelling study of how appropriate knowledge and experience can be used to good effect in enhancing situations within other countries. This work and other projects initiated by Intermediate Technology should be admired and supported by those who see conservation andsustainability as key determinants in the future of this planet.

What Charles Mynors provides in Architectural Conservation: A Lawyer's Perspective is a wide-ranging and thought provoking look at the law in relation to historic buildings and areas. In this he probes issues of policy, control and decision, making that, for some, may be considered beyond debate. Such a paper is thus to be welcomed and heeded.


Propping Up Pisa Part Two

John B. Burland


This paper describes some of the engineering aspects of the work of the Italian Prime Minister’s Commission for stabilizing the leaning tower of Pisa, and is presented in two parts. Part One (Volume 3, Number 2) presented a brief history of the construction and subsequent behaviour of the Tower as deduced from careful measurements made on the masonry courses. The deduced history of inclination of the Tower has been used to calibrate a sophisticated computer model of the Tower and underlying ground. Some surprising findings of recent studies of the motion of the Tower were presented. Part Two of the paper describes how the studies presented in Part One were used in developing the short-term stabilization measures that have been implemented by the Commission. Measurements made on the response of the Tower to these measures are presented. Finally, the work of the Commission in developing a permanent solution is summarized.


John B. Burland FEng, FICE, MIStructE, DSc(Eng)

The author gained his early practical experience with Ove Arup and Partners in London.  In 1980 he was appointed to the Chair of Soil Mechanics at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine.


Architectural Conservation

A Lawyer’s Perspective

Charles Mynors


This paper considers the nature of civil law, as a means of conflict resolution or avoidance, emphasizing its arbitrary nature, and highlighting the need for law to follow current opinion. Criminal law is necessary where the result of a particular act is irreversible. It then considers the nature of the conservation debate, and the balance to be struck between the need for change and the effect of proposed works on historic buildings. The question of what is to be conserved, and who is to choose, is addressed. Various possible approaches to decision-making are examined, in relation to both buildings and areas of interest, and ways in which proposals can be evaluated, emphasizing that there is nothing either special or different about conservation issues. After considering the role of policy, and the question of who should exercise control, the paper looks at how a control mechanism might operate, with particular reference to the current British system.


Charles Mynors FRTPI, ARICS, MIHBC, Barrister  

Charles Mynors was, for a time, a conservation officer in local government; he is now a barrister in private practice specializing in planning and ecclesiastical law.


Conservation and Development 

A Study of the Production and Use of Lime in East Africa 

Stafford Holmes and Theo Schilderman


In some regions of Africa, lime is as important a traditional building material as it used to be in the United Kingdom. This is certainly the case on the islands off the East African coast, such as Zanzibar, and still to some extent in the coastal belt itself. There are signs, however, that its use in building is on the decline, that traditional skills of production and application are being lost, and that Portland cement is taking over. This has been a trend in the United Kingdom, but can it be reversed in Africa and would it be desirable to do so?

This paper looks at the traditional use and production of lime in Zanzibar, where it is still important and where the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) has had the opportunity to provide some assistance. It looks at some of the constraints in Zanzibar and how these could be resolved. Moving on from there, it considers the situation on the East African mainland, where the production and use of lime has probably declined, and discusses the underlying development issues.


Stafford Holmes Dip Arch (Hammersmith), ARIBA  
Stafford Holmes is an architect and partner in the firm of Rodney Melville & Partners in Leamington Spa. He has worked in Africa in the past, but his current work is principally in conservation in the United Kingdom. He is a member of ITDG’s Building Panel.

Theo Schilderman MSc Arch (Delft)   
Theo Schilderman is an architect specialized in third-world housing and building. He is currently manager of the international building materials and shelter programme of the Intermediate Technology Development Group, based at its Head Office in Rugby.


Holistic Interpretation of a City’s Built Heritage

Experience from the Chicago Architecture Foundation

Ted Newcomen


Although little more than 150 years old, Chicago has one of the most memorable built environments of any city in the world. It contains many outstanding early examples of the types of structures that now dominate almost every modern metropolis, frequently designed by some of the greatest names in architecture. This includes the first metal-frame high-rise buildings of William Le Baron Jenney, Louis Sullivan, Burnham & Root, and Holabird & Roche; the prairie school houses of Frank Lloyd Wright; the art deco skyscrapers of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White; the international style of Mies van der Rohe; post-modern designs by Philip Johnson and Cesar Pelli; and yet more recent works by Helmut Jahn and Ricardo Bofill.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation works exclusively to enhance the public’s awareness and appreciation of Chicago architecture. This paper examines the holistic approach that this organization takes to interest young people in the city’s architectural heritage, and its programme to train volunteer tour guides to provide a consistent quality interpretation of Chicago’s unique built environment.


Ted Newcomen MA       
Ted Newcomen was originally trained in construction management, followed by over 20 years experience on projects in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia.


Conservation in a Multicultural Environment

Michael Taylor


The development of multicultural communities in British cities has significant implications for building conservation in those areas. Spitalfields in east London, Bradford and Leicester are examples considered in this paper. One aspect of this change is the building of new landmarks in the form of places of worship. Another is the question of whether different attitudes to conservation are prevalent in multicultural communities. Whatever the answer to this question, multiculturalism is an important creative force in British culture. Building conservation, as the management of one type of cultural resource, must find ways to respond to it.


Michael Taylor BA, DipTP, MA, MRTPI

Michael Taylor is Building Conservation Officer in the Urban Design Group of Leicester City Council, and an Honorary Fellow in the Centre for Conservation Studies at De Montfort University, Leicester. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author.

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