Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 4 Number 1 March 1998

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The Old YMCA Building, 44 Long Street, Cape Town, South Africa. The building was restored by the National Parks Board.

See 'Architectural Conservation in South Africa: The Cape Town Heritage Trust and its Proposal for a National Trust of South Africa' by Graeme Binckes

Contents:

Lime Mortars for Brickwork: Traditional Practice and Modern Misconceptions – Part One Gerard Lynch

Harrington Hall: Destruction and Renewal – A Personal Account Shervie Price

Environmental Control in Historic Buildings Peter Lawson-Smith

Characterization of Ancient Mortars: Evaluation of Simple and Sophisticated Methods Ahmet Gulec and Ahmet Ersen

Architectural Conservation in South Africa: The Cape Town Heritage Trust and its Proposal for a National Trust of South Africa Graeme Binckes

 

Editorial
What do we mean by 'heritage'?
David Watt

 

The term 'heritage' is used in all manner of situations to describe anything and everything from a nation's cultural and spiritual identity to the products of an industrial and manufacturing past. That outer space has recently been described as 'the heritage of all mankind' (New Scientist, 20 September 1997, p. 3) shows clearly the versatility and appeal of this simple word.

If we are forced to say what we really mean when we talk about 'heritage' and 'conservation', it then becomes clear that each is made up of a number of often diverse subjects and concerns. The papers in this issue demonstrate again the range of attitudes and talents that prevail in the arena of architectural conservation, and also show that 'heritage', in whatever form, is something that requires respect and support.

At a time when there appear to be charters, manifestos or guidelines for every aspect of heritage and conservation, it is often easy to forget the challenges that are still having to be faced in other parts of the world. Graeme Binckes has provided an important and thought, provoking paper entitled Architectural Conservation in South Africa: The Cape Town Heritage Trust and its Proposal for a National Trust of South Africa, in which he considers the role and future for conservation in that country, its legislation and the work of non-governmental organizations, and the need to integrate conservation with others facets of late twentieth-century life.

Considering the business of conservation from the personal perspective of the often-forgotten building owner is frequently informing and revealing. In Harrington Hall: Destruction and Renewal – A Personal Account, Shervie Price recounts the events that led to the partial rebuilding of this great Lincolnshire house and family home, raising awareness for the quiet talent that often exists within the building and decorative craft tradition.

Lime, both as a material and as the focus for academic and professional attention, is still often misapplied and misunderstood. In the first part of Lime Mortars for Brickwork: Traditional Practice and Modem Misconceptions, Gerard Lynch gives a masterly review of the subject, drawing on historical precedents and personal practice to examine current attitudes and applications.

Taking a scientific approach to the examination of lime is yet another way in which we can understand historic buildings and craft practices. Ahmet Gulec and Ahmet Ersen show in Characterization of Ancient Mortars: Evaluation of Simple and Sophisticated Methods how much can be leamt from careful analysis of the material, and demonstrate that simple techniques can often give sufficient information.

Moving to the inside of historic buildings, the influence of environmental conditions on fabric and contents is the subject of Environmental Control in Historic Buildings. In this, Peter Lawson-Smith introduces the basic requirements of environmental control, and discusses the concept of conservation heating with reference to the damage and decay associated with inappropriate relative humidifies.

 

Lime Mortars for Brickwork

Traditional Practice and Modern Misconceptions – Part One

Gerard Lynch

 

The revival in the use of traditional lime mortars for the repair, restoration and conservation of historic buildings in the United Kingdom over the past 25 years continues to gain momentum as designers and builders alike recognize the importance of using materials that are sympathetic to those originally used for the construction of such buildings. This work has tended to focus on the use of pure non-hydraulic slaked lime putties as the principal binder for all mortars, which has led both to the widely held belief that all historic lime mortars were prepared in this manner, and to a general perception that hydraulic limes are similar in behaviour to modern cements.

These views are essentially inaccurate and contradict much of the written works on bricklaying mortars that reflect the thinking and practices of architects and knowledgeable master craftsmen from the seventeenth century onwards. This is especially so in relation to the city of London, from where such influence was to spread rapidly throughout the country and to the British colonies. The vast majority of brick buildings that are now in need of care and attention date from after this period, and it is therefore timely to reappraise traditional practice and modern misconceptions.

 

Gerard Lynch 
Gerard Lynch is a self-employed historic brickwork consultant, master bricklayer and author.

 

Harrington Hall: Destruction and Renewal

A Personal Account

Shervie Price

 

Harrington Hall situated near Spilsby in Lincolnshire, is a Grade I listed building of Tudor origins, which was substantially altered in the late seventeenth century. It caught fire in November 1991, and as a result nearly all of the interior was destroyed. Even though the owners were determined to rebuild and were fully insured, Guy Taylor, architect, with Christopher Nevile, designer, and a team of experts faced a series of problems. They had to devise a method of stabilizing the remaining structure until the roof was on, while coping with post-fire rots and moulds. They had to adapt the house for family life in the late twentieth century, but somehow revive its pre-fire atmosphere. This had to be done in consultation with the conservation officer and to a strict budget, while keeping the team focused and the clients happy. It took more than five years to find solutions that exemplify a particular and evolving response to disaster.

 

Shervie Price BA

Shervie Price was born in Nottinghamshire. She went as a mature student to University College, London to read English, and afterwards worked in publishing. Then, by default, she became a historic and sometimes hysteric housekeeper with no specialized knowledge of the subject apart from a love of and interest in old houses.

 

Environmental Control in Historic Buildings
Peter Lawson-Smith

 

The decline of the country house as a fully-occupied family home can expose structure and contents to the high humidity and variations of the British climate. Sufficient experience has now been gained to show how damage and deterioration can be significantly reduced by understanding the effects of relative humidity (RH) control and stabilization, together with the use of carefully controlled conservation heating and minimal intrusion into the building.

 

Peter Lawson-Smith OBE, DipTech(Eng), CEng, FIEE, FCIBSE, FIExE, ACT(Birm), MConsE

Peter Lawson-Smith is founder and chairman of a consulting practice in Witney, Oxfordshire, specializing in the sensitive installation of electrical and mechanical engineering services in buildings. A board member and past chairman of the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting, he was also founder chairman of National Quality Assurance.

 

Characterization of Ancient Mortars

Evaluation of Simple and Sophisticated Methods

Ahmet Gulec and Ahmet Ersen

 

Methods used for the characterization of ancient mortars vary according to the information required and the aim of the conservation work. Simple analytical methods are adequate for matching the properties of conservation mortars with those of ancient masonry. When ancient mortars and traditional forms of construction are to be used in the identification of original and subsequent parts of historic buildings, further detailed analyses may be required.

Sophisticated analytical techniques are not, however, sufficient by themselves, and all kinds of information regarding the mortars and the physical evidence derived from the building should be considered. Advanced scientific investigation enables us to understand both ancient techniques and associated processes of deterioration. The present research deals with the mortars of a fifteenth-century building in Istanbul. Mortar and plaster samples were characterized by a combination of simple and sophisticated methods. By comparing the results of the simple tests with those of the more sophisticated, it has been shown that, for the purposes of architectural conservation, utilization of the simple methods alone, will provide adequate information.

 

Ahmet Gulec PhD

Ahmet Gulec is a conservation chemist, who has carried out extensive research on ancient Byzantine and Ottoman mortars. He has wide experience of stone conservation and the use of chemicals in conservation gained during his professional work in the Restoration and Conservation Laboratory of the Ministry of Culture in Istanbul, Turkey.

Ahmet Ersen PhD

Ahmet Ersen is a conservation architect and Associate Professor within the Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University of Istanbul and currently lectures on architectural conservation and the conservation of traditional building materials.

 

Architectural Conservation in South Africa

The Cape Town Heritage Trust and its Proposal for a National Trust of South Africa

Graeme Binckes

 

This paper presents an overview of the development of architectural conservation in South Africa in the light of the country’s history and the colonialist influences that were largely responsible for shaping the architectural heritage. Examples are given indicating the nature of this heritage and approaches to architectural conservation in practice. Reference is made to the management of architectural conservation in terms of existing and proposed legislation, the contribution of non-governmental organizations being outlined. The work of the Cape Town Heritage Trust is described, an account being given of its origins, its projects and its prospects. In considering the factors motivating its proposal for the establishment of a National Trust of South Africa, attention is drawn to the present fragmentation of effort and to the need to recognize the heritage of those dispossessed under colonial rule and during the apartheid period. The future of architectural conservation, it is suggested, lies in the adoption of a policy of ‘integrated conservation’ leading to the establishment of a constituency.

 

Graeme Binckes BArch, MURP

Graeme Binckes in an architect and planner who left private practice in 1988 when invited to become first Director of the Cape Town Heritage Trust. He is currently a trustee of the Cape Town Heritage Trust and is involved in particular with the development of its proposal for the establishment of a National Trust of South Africa.

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