Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 8 Number 2 March 2002

Contents:

The Entrance Hall of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: A Conservation Approach to Nineteenth-Century Architectural Polychromy  Tobit Curteis

Succeeding with Hydraulic Lime Mortars  Paul Livesey

Reflections on 12 Years of Repairs at Ely Cathedral   Jane Kennedy

Analysis of Historic Lime and Gypsum Plaster Floors - Part Two  Belinda Colston, David Watt and Anthony Goode

Area-Based Protection Mechanisms for Heritage Conservation: A European Comparison  Robert Pickard

Abstracts of the papers:

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

 

Editorial
Conservation: How to combine diversity and unity?

David Watt

 

As the term ‘conservation’ expands to take account of a wider range of issues, will it run the risk of becoming just another meaningless catch-all term, in the same way that ‘heritage’ became the marketing word of the past decade? Hopefully not. But for a single word to convey so much, it must be sure of its own identity.

With such diversity, could and should we seek unity in our attitudes and actions? Conversely, how should we maintain our diverse range of buildings, monuments, places and landscapes in a world that is becoming ever smaller? More questions, but where should we look for the answers?

Conservation is, above all else, a team effort. Little can be achieved without the involvement and support of others. Taking positive account of what can sometimes be a bewildering range of personal and professional opinions can itself produce innovation and change. ‘The Golden Rule,’ as George Bernard Shaw put it, ‘is that there are no golden rules.’ The papers in this issue of the Journal of Architectural Conservation make it clear what can be achieved by combining diversity of approach with the unity of good taste and professionalism.

With ‘Reflections on 12 Years of Repairs at Ely Cathedral’, Jane Kennedy provides a clear and compelling account of what has been accomplished in the repair of this incredible building. Through a combination of craft and professional skills, this work has developed within a solid framework of mutual respect and demonstrates a clear sympathy for the building and its changing role within the local community.

In a similar manner, Tobit Curteis, in ‘The Entrance Hall of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge: A Conservation Approach to Nineteenth-Century Architectural Polychromy’, takes us on a journey from the building of the museum, through the formation of the Entrance Hall, to the recent treatment of its spectacular decorative scheme. Importantly, this work has established a precedent that will undoubtedly assist others when dealing with similar schemes in the future.

How to combine diversity and unity is nowhere better considered than in ‘Area Based Protection Mechanism for Heritage Conservation: A European Comparison’. In this paper, Dr Robert Pickard describes and comments on the approaches of six European countries in striving to achieve area, based protection and integrated conservation with reference to the Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe.

The subject of lime and lime-based mortars, renders, and plasters will always provide points for discussion and debate. With the growing availability of hydraulic limes, it is perhaps not surprising that there is confusion and scepticism surrounding this ‘new’ material. In ‘Succeeding with Hydraulic Lime Mortars’, Paul Livesey offers a frank and informative overview of the subject that will be of guidance and interest to all those specifying lime mortars.

Finally, in the second and last part of ‘Analysis of Historic Lime and Gypsum Plaster Floors’, Dr Belinda Colston, Anthony Goode and I consider the repair and reinstatement of these traditional forms of construction, and show what might usefully be achieved with a range of simple and sophisticated analytical methods as a means of informing and implementing appropriate remedial action.

  

The Entrance Hall of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

A Conservation Approach to Nineteenth-Century Architectural Polychromy

Tobit Curteis

 

The elaborate scheme of polychrome decoration in the Entrance Hall of the Fitzwilliam Museum was designed by the architect Edward Barry. It incorporates both architectural and figurative elements in stone and plaster, enriched with ornate polychromy and gilding.

A detailed technical survey showed that, unlike many similar decorative schemes of the late nineteenth century, which have been extensively restored, the Entrance Hall decoration was almost entirely original. Although a significant layer of disfiguring dirt had accumulated on the surface, both the paint layer and substrate were found to be in relatively good condition. Tests indicated that the damaged paint layer could be successfully stabilized and the dirt layer reduced, resulting in a dramatic improvement in both the stability and the appearance of the decoration.

A programme of treatment was therefore undertaken, whose aims were to conserve and clean the decorative scheme, in conjunction with a detailed study of the original materials and construction techniques. It was also seen as an opportunity to establish a precedent for the treatment of similar schemes, which are frequently treated in a manner that would be regarded as unacceptable for any other work of decorative art.

 

Tobit Curteis BA (Hons), Dip Conservation (Courtauld Institute)

The author has a BA in history of art, a postgraduate diploma in the conservation of wall paintings, and a post-diploma internship in Rome and Florence. He has been a private conservator since 1992, and is an accredited member of the United Kingdom Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (UKIC).

 

Succeeding with Hydraulic Lime Mortars

Paul Livesey

 

The paper describes what natural hydraulic limes are, how they relate to hydrated lime or Portland cement, and the role of pozzolanic materials when used in conjunction with them. The applications for natural hydraulic limes, including their benefits in terms of flexibility and permeability and their limitations in terms of speed of strength development and necessary curing precautions, are explained. The paper sets out some of the common mis­conceptions in understanding the basic materials and common mistakes encountered on apparently well-controlled sites, and outlines the provisions to be included in the code of best practice being developed as part of a the Foresight lime project.

 

Paul Livesey BSc (Tech), EurChem, CChem, MRSC

Paul Livesey is a cement chemist currently involved with various research projects on cement, concrete and mortar on behalf of Castle Cement Ltd, and is the UK representative to European Standards committees on cement and building lime specification and testing. He is participating in a Foresight research project into the characteristics and performance of natural hydraulic lime mortars, where he is responsible for the chemical analysis and physical test programme.

 

Reflections on 12 Years of Repairs at Ely Cathedral

Jane Kennedy

 

This paper describes the major repairs carried out at Ely Cathedral from 1987 to 2000 under two successive Surveyors to the Fabric. The philosophy of stone replacement is discussed, and changes in conservation practice, funding and legislation over these years are highlighted.

 

Jane Kennedy Dip Arch, RIBA, AABC, IHBC, FRSA

Jane Kennedy trained at both of the Manchester schools of architecture in the 1970s. She worked in specialist historic building practices and was a local authority conservation officer, before joining Purcell Miller Tritton in 1988. She is a partner in that firm and Surveyor to the Fabric of Ely Cathedral.

 

Analysis of Historic Lime and Gypsum Plaster Floors

Part Two

Belinda Colston, David Watt and Anthony Goode

 

The survival and continued use of historic lime and gypsum plaster flooring is commonplace in certain parts of the United Kingdom, and yet it remains almost unknown elsewhere in the country. The potential for loss and damage to such floors, whether through ignorance or indifference, is great and has prompted a study of this traditional form of construction in order to engender a greater interest and promote more appropriate forms of repair or reinstatement. The second Part of this paper considers the sampling and analysis of historic plaster floors, presents the results of simple and sophisticated forms of analysis, together with the results of compressive strength testing of new plaster floor mixes, and considers aspects of repair and maintenance.

 

Belinda Colston BSc (Hons), PhD, CChem, MRSC

Dr Belinda Colston is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at De Montfort University, Leicester. She is engaged in a range of research and consultancy projects concerning aspects of stone decay. Dr Colston is Programme Leader for the MSc Conservation Science course at De Montfort University and adviser to the ICCROM‘CURRIC’ programme.

David Watt BSc (Hons), Dip Arch Cons (Leic), PhD, MSc, FRICS, IHBC

Dr David Watt is a Chartered Building Surveyor and Senior Research Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester. He promotes, conducts and publishes research on various aspects of architectural conservation and building pathology, and is particularly interested in the use of traditional building materials and the influence of people and environmental conditions on buildings and monuments.

Anthony Goode Dip Bldg Cons (RICS)

Anthony Goode is the principal of A.J. Goode Conservation, a small contracting firm based in Slawston, Leicestershire, specializing in the conservation of historic buildings. His particular interests are with the use of lime and in earth and clay construction.

 

Area-Based Protection Mechanisms for Heritage Conservation

A European Comparison

Robert Pickard

 

This paper examines the progress of six European countries towards establishing area-based protection mechanisms and integrated conservation policies promulgated in relation to the Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe: Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom (England). It considers the historical background and current area protection policies, their scope, the integration of conservation with planning mechanisms and associated rehabilitation, and funding issues. Key issues arising from this discussion relate to the use of special plans and the achievement of economic and social goals through conservation regulation and management, and measures in support of rehabilitation.

 

Robert D. Pickard BSc, PhD, DipBldgCons, MRICS, IHBC

Robert Pickard is based in the School of Built Environment at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle and is Leader of the CADRE Research Group. Since 1994, he has been an expert consultant to the Cultural (and now Natural) Heritage Department of the Council of Europe. In 1997, he became a member of its Legislative Support Task Force to provide assistance to countries reforming legislation and policy on cultural heritage matters.

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