Building Conservation Journal December 2016–January 2017

Hannah Ramsden

Editor (RICS)

Heritage can present itself to us in many forms. Traditionally, the word conjures up monuments of positive significance, so we rarely think of its potentially negative connotations. But it is wise to challenge our preconceptions and open ourselves to new ideas.


In this issue, Anna Irwin does just that. Looking at the concept of "dark heritage", she considers the peace walls of Northern Ireland. Monuments such as these show us that heritage is a social process, one that is constantly evolving, and its meanings adapt as life continues and values change. The fact that such national and global monuments bring people together while simultaneously keeping them apart is particularly significant at the moment. Who knows what will survive from our time to be discussed in years to come?

This issue also sees us inject some energy in the form of John Edwards’ article, which discusses the benefits of understanding traditional buildings holistically and the principles that should become second nature when attempting to make them energy efficient. He argues that everything from lifestyle changes to surveys and legislative precedents should be considered before we reach for the retrofit. In a time when the purse strings keep being tightened and materials continue to be competitively priced, this advice could be vital.

Caroline Rye pursues the theme with her case study of the beautiful surroundings of Trinity College’s New Court student accommodation in Cambridge. The process of measurement and monitoring is in focus here, enabling the original 1823 design to fulfil modern expectations while continuing to track and prevent moisture. The large-scale sensor installation project at New Court is set to run for another seven years – we will keep you updated on developments.

Also in this issue, Duncan McCallum from Historic England offers his thoughts on heritage legislation and its significance. As planning reform proposals continue to be discussed, the lessons of our predecessors must be acknowledged, with two important acts celebrating significant anniversaries in the coming year.

2017 — we’re ready for you.

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