Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 7 Number 1 March 2001

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A part of the former garden of Governor Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen's palace ‘Vrijburg’on Antonio Vaz, now the public park of the Praca da Republica, represents seventeenth-century Dutch urban heritage in Recife, Brazil.

See: 'The Dutch Urban Heritage of Recife, Pernambuco, in Brazil' by Ron van Oers


Field and Laboratory Assessment of Lime-Based Mortars  John Stewart, Richard Glover, John Houston, Nigel Seeley and Trevor Proudfoot

Managing Complex Historic Cities: The Cambridge Historic Core Appraisal  Jon Burgess

The Dutch Urban Heritage of Recife, Pernambuco, in Brazil  Ron van Oers

Banganga: The ‘Whole’ as a ‘Part’ in Metropolitan Mumbai  Harshad Bhatia



Impoverishing the built environment?

David Watt


As the diverse natural environments of our planet can become impoverished through challenges to biodiversity and the removal of species, so too can our built environment suffer from inappropriate or inflexible policies or actions, ignorance, neglect and, at worst, indifference.

This issue of the Journal of Architectural Conservation includes challenging and thought-provoking papers that question current attitudes to architectural conservation – whether of individual buildings or historic areas – and demonstrate that innovation and forward-thinking are crucial to securing a future for our historic built heritage.

The challenges of making a future for the past are nowhere better seen than in India. In Banganga: The ‘Whole’ as a ‘Part’ in Metropolitan Mumbai, Harshad Bhatia describes the Banganga tank and its importance to the local community, and explains the need to be fully aware of all the significances and values of such a place before attempting to impose preconceptions and regulations for conservation and development.

The technical performance of historic buildings and the means by which we protect or give new life to their structures are both key considerations in deciding on appropriate levels of intervention and future action. In Field and Laboratory Assessment of Lime-Based Mortars, the authors (including representatives of the National Trust and Building Research Establishment) report the results of trials undertaken to explore and promote the use of a wider range of materials in the conservation of historic fabric. The conclusions of this significant paper are relevant to all persons responsible for the repair and maintenance of historic buildings and monuments.

The demands of contemporary living place an immense burden on those qualities of historic towns and cities that we seek to protect and enhance. In Managing Complex Historic Cities: The Cambridge Historic Core Appraisal, Dr Jon Burgess explores the challenges being faced by this great city and looks at the different ways in which they are being met.

The legacies of past generations also provide many challenges for those wishing to document and protect our urban heritage. The Dutch Urban Heritage of Recife – Pernambuco in Brazil is such a case. In this paper, Dr Ron van Oers considers the role of the Dutch and their colonial building practices in the development of Recife and how the history of that period is being recognized in the current revitalization of this Brazilian city.


Field and Laboratory Assessment of Lime-Based Mortars
John Stewart, Richard Glover, John Houston, Nigel Seeley and
Trevor Proudfoot


Mortar capping trials carried out at Corfe Castle by the National Trust have been monitored closely over the past seven years. These have appraised a range of hydraulic and high-calcium limes. The objectives of the trials have been to explore and promote the materials commonly described in historical literature and used in traditional building practice. A parallel programme of laboratory characterization of the physical properties of similar mixes has been carried out by BRE Limited (formerly the Building Research Establishment).

The trials were applied to a very high standard of design and workmanship in a context of severe weather exposure. Good durability is evidenced by the hydraulic limes, mixes of hydraulic and high-calcium limes, and high-calcium lime with sufficient reactive set-additive or pozzolans. High-calcium lime mortars and those with less reactive set-additives showed early failure. These substantiate the claim in most historical literature that the durability of different lime mortars is variable, and it is necessary to specify them according to the demands of the context of application.


Richard Glover ARICS

Richard Glover qualified as a Chartered Building Surveyor whilst working for the National Trust in its Northumbria Region. During his employment with the Trust (197990), he was instrumental in the re-introduction of the use of lime mortars for building conservation work. In 1995, he set up his own private surveying practice based in Petersfield, Hampshire, where he continues to be involved in the conservation of historic buildings.

John Houston BSc, MSc, FGS

John Houston is a geomaterials engineer and has been with the BRE for 12 years, based within the Centre for Heritage and Stone Masonry. He has 20 years’ experience in building pathology and geomaterial investigations, of which the past 15 have concentrated mainly on historic buildings.

Nigel J. Seeley BSc, PhD, CChem, FRSC, FSA

Dr Seeley read chemistry before working for five years as a forensic scientist. He then became head of the Department of Conservation at University College London Institute of Archaeology, where he taught and carried out research on the history of technology, and the deterioration and conservation of materials used in antiquity. He remained there until 1989, when he was appointed to the National Trust, where he is now Head of Conservation.

Trevor Proudfoot

Trevor Proudfoot trained as a stonemason in London. In 1983 he was requested by the National Trust to help set up the Cliveden Statuary Workshop, which he managed until the workshop became financially independent under his direction in 1991. Since 1984 he has been the Adviser for Stone and Plaster Conservation to the National Trust.

John Stewart BA, MSc
John Stewart is an architectural conservator and historian, who has worked on projects in North America, Europe and the Near East. He was formerly senior conservator at the British Museum, prior to joining the National Trust where he is now Adviser on the Conservation of Archaeological Sites and Monuments.


Managing Complex Historic Cities

The Cambridge Historic Core Appraisal

Jon Burgess


The way we use and think about our historic cities is changing. Their importance has been illustrated in the recent Urban White Paper. They are places of great opportunity, yet issues such as traffic and other congestion can threaten to undermine the very things that attract people in the first place. The pressures manifest on central Cambridge are in some cases typical of other historic cities, yet in other respects the city is unique. This paper will outline the current and prospective development scenarios around the city. It will then look briefly at different structures for analysing historic areas and describe the methodology currently being used to manage the historic core of Cambridge.


Jon Burgess PhD, MA (Arch Con), BA (Hons), BPl, Dip Con, MRTPI, IHBC

Jon Burgess is Principal Conservation and Design Officer at Cambridge City Council. His work involves him in a wide range of issues affecting the historic environment and he is project manager of the Historic Core Appraisal.


The Dutch Urban Heritage of Recife

Pernambuco in Brazil

Ron Van Oers


This paper deals with the foundation and development of Recife and Mauritsstad in Brazil by the Dutch in the seventeenth century and seeks to identify the characteristics of Dutch colonial building practices relevant to the city’s conservation and development. A study of former colonial patterns, spaces and functional organization has been undertaken to establish how much of the Dutch urban heritage remains in modern Recife, given the shortness of Dutch rule – 24 years only – and since the city was heavily modified during the past three centuries after their capitulation in 1654. Based on this analysis, an assessment is made of the utilization of these surviving structures and patterns in Recife’s latest revitalization scheme of 1993, aimed at conserving and enhancing this urban heritage.


Ron van Oers PhD, MTD, MScEng
Ron van Oers is a town planner specializing in urban conservation. He received his doctorate at Delft University of Technology on the subject of Dutch Colonial Town Planning between 1600 and 1800. He is currently working for UNESCO in Paris on the identification, management and development of World Heritage Sites.


Banganga: The ‘Whole’ as a ‘Part’ in Metropolitan Mumbai

Harshad Bhatia


In a land-starved, populous, historic city like Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), there are old areas set within new surroundings and new areas that serve old functions. Yet, the old and new continue to co-exist within this city. They are all ‘parts’ of a larger ‘whole’ that makes up the metropolis.

A pressing issue in Mumbai is that of its older parts, which are under continuous pressure from development in the conscious wake of globalization. Their value to the city and how the city can value such enclaves need to be assessed. Furthermore, when public spaces are also traditional community areas, as in the case of the historic Banganga tank (i.e. a water well, pond or small lake), the need to understand its utilitarian value has to be carefully considered.

The project to preserve the Banganga tank began in 1984 and is seen by local citizens as providing a sense of direction for the protection of such vulnerable environments. The aim of the project is not just to retain Banganga tank for its historic value, but to also keep it alive and in use. This paper considers conservation in this context as being process oriented and not product defined.


Harshad Bhatia BArch (Gold Medal), MUrban Design (Gold Medal)

Harshad Bhatia is an urban designer and architect based in Mumbai, India. He is a visiting lecturer at Sir J.J. College of Architecture, Mumbai; an avid writer and reviewer of urban issues, architecture and the profession; former editor of the Journal of Indian Institute of Architects; and former member of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee. Harshad Bhatia is currently researching the economics, legislation, documentation and monitoring processes that influence heritage conservation in Mumbai.

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