Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 6 Number 1 March 2000

front61.gif (53074 bytes)

Designed in the Mediterranean Romanesque style by Melbourne architects Alsop and Sayce in 1931, the University of Western Australia’s Winthrop Hall is an educational icon.

See: 'Heritage Conservation in Australia: A Frame in Flux' by  Penny O’Connor

Contents:

  • Conserving the ‘White Architecture’ of the 1930s  John Summer

  • Fungal Problems in Historic Buildings  Jagjit Singh

  • Ceramic Tiles in Historic Buildings: Examination, Recording and Treatment  Rachel Faulding and Susan Thomas

  • Heritage Conservation in Australia: A Frame in Flux  Penny O’Connor

  • Residents’ Attitudes to Conservation  Peter Larkham

Abstracts of the papers:

(Note that all biographies are for the date of original publication)

Editorial

Attitudes and Expectations

David Watt

 

Attitudes to the conservation of the built environment are having to change as greater demands are placed on historic buildings, monuments and landscapes. What we term ‘conservation’ is, by necessity, being moved forward even before its principles and practices have become fully understood and embraced.

The expectations of those responsible – whether as owners, policy makers or professional advisers – for the use and well-being of our built heritage are also changing, and greater consideration is being given to what can be achieved within the current frameworks in which we live and work.

The papers in this issue reflect the changes that are taking place in the ways in which conservation is perceived and put into practice. In this, it is crucial that current attitudes and expectations are continually reviewed and, where necessary, challenged by those who have the knowledge, experience or vision to make a difference.

Attitudes are undoubtedly changing in the ways we view the architecture of the recent past. In Conserving the ‘White Architecture’ of the 1930s, John Summer sets out to demonstrate how a ‘common sense approach and the avoidance of dogma’ can ensure the satisfactory restoration and alteration of these Modern Movement buildings for use today.

The Burra Charter, produced by the Australian branch of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), is widely regarded for providing some of the clearest guidance on the assessment and evaluation of heritage sites. Penny O’Connor sets out in Heritage Conservation in Australia: A Frame in Flux to examine the framing that guides and informs this highly complex process of heritage management, and looks at the variations that have developed in policy and practice within that country.

In Residents’ Attitudes to Conservation, Dr Peter Larkham of the University of Central England examines the perceptions and attitudes of residents of conservation areas to conservation designation and planning. Despite popular support, this paper highlights certain important concerns that will need to be taken into account by those involved in conservation planning in the future.

The problems caused by fungal decay in historic buildings and monuments are often severe and costly to rectify. Achieving a better understanding of the fungi responsible for such damage and assessing our response to such organisms are issues currently under review by conservation authorities throughout the world. In Fungal Problems in Historic Buildings, Dr Jagjit Singh provides an informative summary of many of these important issues, and considers the options for survey and treatment based on a broader awareness of the causes and effects of fungal decay.

With a growing awareness of, and concern for, decorative finishes in historic buildings, attention is increasingly being given to architectural ceramics and their conservation. Rachel Faulding and Susan Thomas provide, in Ceramic Tiles in Historic Buildings: Examination, Recording and Treatment, a summary of methods suitable for the in situ examination and recording of ceramic wall tiles, together with descriptions of deterioration mechanisms and the range of treatments that may be offered by a ceramic wall tile conservator when undertaking a conservation programme.

 

Conserving the ‘White Architecture’ of the 1930s

John Summer

 

History catches up with us fast. Many of the revolutionary buildings of the recent past are now in a state of decay. This is especially true of the Modern Movement houses of the 1930s, with their untried means of construction. This paper, based on personal experience in the restoration and alteration of twelve such houses, argues for a common sense approach and the avoidance of dogma. It also accepts that conservation of the environment is as important as conservation of the building, so all historic buildings that are occupied should be upgraded in energy terms.

 

John Summer MBE, MArch, AADip, FRSA, RIBA

Having trained at the Architectural Association in London, John Summer worked for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Charles Eames and Erno Goldfinger before forming John Summer and Associates in 1964. He has won various awards, including a Civic Trust Commendation for his work at High Cross House in 1997.  

 

Fungal Problems in Historic Buildings

Jagjit Singh

 

Fungal problems in both modern and historic buildings are attributed to environmental conditions – water, humidity, temperature and a lack of ventilation. – favouring the decay of materials. The damage caused by fungi is very familiar, as is the destruction arising from attempts to eradicate by use of chemicals, which are not only a cause for concern to health authorities, wildlife interests and environmentalists, but also lead to the development of resistance in the target organisms.

Correct identification of the fungal organism is important as not all fungi are equally destructive. Some rots are present in timber when it is cut, or are acquired in storage, and these may be present in heartwood or sapwood. Fungal infestation may also be dead or dormant, representing past conditions.

Environmental control and preventative maintenance are preferable to chemical eradication. Preventative maintenance should, in most cases, forestall the need for major interventions, and it is beyond doubt that it reduces the cost of conserving buildings. Since the internal environment of a building is the product of a number of influences, it is advisable to study in detail the ecological factors (such as temperature and humidity) at micro-environmental levels, and the response and performance of the building before undertaking any intervention.

The ongoing monitoring of environmental conditions within buildings ensures the long-term health of both their materials and structures.

 

Jagjit Singh BSc, MSc, MIBiol, AIWSc, FIRTS, FRSA, FRSH

Jagjit Singh is a Director of Environmental Building Solutions Limited, and specializes in building health problems, heritage conservation and environmental issues. He has more than 15 years’ experience as a building pathologist and expertise in heritage conservation, indoor air quality, and health in the United Kingdom and abroad, in both academic and commercial environments. His current research focuses on interrelationships of building structures and materials with their environments and occupants.

 

Ceramic Tiles in Historic Buildings

Examination, Recording and Treatment

Rachel Faulding and Susan Thomas

 

This paper presents a summary of those methods suitable for the in situ examination and recording of ceramic wall tiles. A brief description of deterioration mechanisms is given and the paper concludes by exploring the range of treatments that may be offered by a ceramic wall tile conservator when undertaking a conservation programme.

 

Rachel E.M. Faulding BA(Hons)

Rachel Faulding graduated from De Montfort University Lincoln in 1997 with a first-class honours degree in Conservation and Restoration. She is presently entering her third year at the university as a PhD student undertaking research into the conservation and restoration of ceramic wall tiles. 

Susan Thomas BA (Hons), MA (Museum Studies), AMA

After completing a degree in chemistry, Susan Thomas trained for three years in archaeological conservation. She worked in museum conservation and management for a considerable period prior to taking up a teaching post with De Montfort University Lincoln where she is now academic Unit Manager of Conservation and Restoration.

 

Heritage Conservation in Australia

A Frame in Flux 

Penny O’Connor

 

The Burra Charter produced by the Australian branch of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) is internationally regarded for providing some of the clearest guidance on the assessment and evaluation of heritage sites. The holistic nature of other elements of Australian ‘best practice’, such as the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975, are also to be envied in countries such as Britain where the problems attendant to a piecemeal system of heritage designation are increasingly being debated. With the Charter and the Act providing the cornerstones of conservation ideology in Australia, it comes as a surprise that policies and practices that have developed at State level have often been less than ideal in their content and application. This paper examines the framing that guides and informs the highly complex process of heritage management in Australia, and looks at the variations that have developed in policy and practice. It is based on research generously funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

 

Penny O’Connor BA (Anthropology), MSc (European Urban Conservation)

Penny O’Connor is currently undertaking a doctorate in the School of Architecture, Construction and Planning at Curtin University, Western Australia. Prior to 1997, she worked in the School of Town and Regional Planning, University of Dundee, and was a founding member of their Centre for Conservation and Urban Studies and Historic Gardens Study Unit.

 

Residents’ Attitudes to Conservation

Peter J. Larkham

 

This paper examines the neglected area of the perceptions and attitudes of residents of United Kingdom conservation areas to these conservation designations, and to conservation planning as a whole. Three residential conservation areas in the English midlands, designated in the early 1970s, were surveyed through a postal questionnaire of all residents. The results support the general suggestion that conservation planning is extremely popular and well-supported in the United Kingdom; there are, however, worrying aspects of lack of knowledge, poor experiences and a much wider conception of conservation than purely planning legislation suggests.

 

Peter J. Larkham BA, PhD

The author is Reader in the School of Planning, University of Central England. He has published widely on conservation planning issues in professional and academic journals, and has most recently been working on residential conservation. His recent books include Conservation and the City (Routledge, 1996) and Changing Suburbs (Spon, 1999).

Return to the Journal of Architectural Conservation

 

Return to detailed contents of back volumes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the Journal of Architectural Conservation

 

Return to detailed contents of back volumes 

 

Donhead Publishing 2013