Is a good knowledge of materials/techniques all that a Conservation architect needs?
The practice of Conservation of buildings centers around the preserving, keeping up and extending the longevity of life of a structure that is built, with regard to its fabric and detail with the mos… The practice of Conservation of buildings centers around the preserving, keeping up and extending the longevity of life of a structure that is built, with regard to its fabric and detail with the most minor interventions. Though it may seem similar, building conservation is in some ways at odds with the Restoration process, which calls for action to re-establish the structure, the fabric and detail, as that of the previous or original times.
Building conservation is done by a conservation architect. A conservation architect must try his best to maintain the character and the historic context of the building, to offer the most excellent practice in construction and at the same time to bring back the clarity in architecture that was first envisaged. With architecture being at its best in Edinburgh and the Edinburgh architects being some of the worlds best, conservation architecture is also at its best here.
There are sometimes occasions when a building conservation project will call for the introduction of a new feature or more often a reinterpretation of a feature that was built in earlier times. This introduction or reinterpretation offers conservation architects all over, especially the very skilled Edinburgh architects an opportunity for a novel invention using either a traditional or a more modern language or style of design. This use of a novel style of design offers great potential if it is explored when and where appropriate within the context of conservation of buildings.
Coming back to the place where conservation architecture is among one of the best, Edinburgh, few of the major conservation projects done here are the West Bow Projects, the Lennox street project, The William Adam Mausoleum project, etc. While the buildings of the West Bow projects had a shabby appearance coupled with poor fabric condition, the Lennox Street suffered poor quality, surface losses, etc. and The William Adam Mausoleum had problems of pollution damage and shattering of stone. These losses were set right by conservation of buildings techniques and some amount of restoration by replacement of iron by stainless steel, replacement of shattered stone, cleaning of materials/ surfaces, conservation of fabrics, stone indenting and other such remedial measures, all done by highly talented conservation architects.
So, it can be inferred that while some structures continue to stand unharmed and unchanged thanks to highly skilled architects, it is highly impossible to always be able to protect a building from change or damage, which is why we have conservation architects. And, like it was done in quite a few projects in Edinburgh and elsewhere, it is important to maintain the characteristic features or the features that characterize these structures because it is these features that make it what it is and it (the monument) is after all a testimonial to a people, a place and a history. Therefore, what conservation architects need to understand is that while it is highly necessary to have a good knowledge of the materials and the technicalities that are employed in working on the conservation of historic structures, it is also highly important for them to feel a sense of responsibility towards the monument and the future generations so that they can work carefully and keep the structure safe for a lot of generations yet to come.