Building Conservation Journal March–April 2017

Hannah Ramsden

Editor (RICS)

When you see the word “conservation”, the terms “protection” and “prevention” are never too far behind. The presence of heritage buildings, materials and other artefacts is a direct consequence of this. But what goes on behind the scenes?


Peter Carey strips away the layers in his case study of the Old Vic Theatre, Bristol. From the discovery of the primary auditorium structure dating from 1766 to the upper circle box front from 1832 — found under a 1950s mock-Georgian colour scheme — a conservation management plan helped to redefine the relative heritage value of individual parts of the complex that were previously classified collectively by a grade I listing. The next part of this project will focus on the auditorium and further conservation work; we will follow this closely and report developments in the Building Conservation Journal.

Conservation work involves various skills. Whether projects are investigated by building surveyors or archaeologists, though, the questions remains — what is a “heritage professional”? Alison Richmond seeks to address this, and shed light on the accreditation and membership schemes available to suitably qualified professionals. Collaboration with the various heritage professions is necessary to respond to challenges that lie ahead.

Damp is another ongoing issue for conservationists. But are we any closer to preventing it? Adam Brown discusses the benefits of so-called “breathable” paints — those that are permeable to vapour — as a possible long-term response. Moisture will always be present in older buildings, but logical and economical management is key. Highlighting measurements to evaluate different paints’ performance and the properties of coatings as well as giving examples, Adam offers some answers.

As ever, we are keen to receive feedback on these articles and any topics that you would like to see covered in the journal — do please get in touch.

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