PFG Banfill1 BSc, PhD, CSci, CChem, FRSC, MCIOB, FHEA, BJ Bridgwood2 MSc,
1 Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK
2 Bridgwood Building Designs, Norwich, UK
3 Consultant, Edinburgh, UK
PFG Banfill, School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh,
EH14 4AS.
Tel: +44 (0)131 451 4648
Fax: +44 (0)131 451 3161
The paper reports the development of internet-based educational support to enable
practitioners in built environment conservation (preservation in American terminology)
to evaluate and, if necessary, improve their competence. In the UK it is a condition of
project grant-aid of some heritage bodies that the professional leading a conservation
project is accredited, and several schemes, peer-reviewed by professional bodies, have
been set up in recent years. Since these require practitioners to provide evidence of their
competence, there is a need for an increased understanding of the issues involved. The
work aimed to define the basis for the competences and establish an educational
framework for professional development in this area.
A structured framework of competences, consisting of five units dealing with all the
stages of a conservation project, is presented and evaluated against the 1993 ICOMOS
Guidelines on Education and Training in the Conservation of Monuments, Ensembles
and Sites. The framework is appropriate for all professional disciplines and has been
converted to a computer-assisted self-learning package that provides support for
practitioners in developing their portfolio of evidence for submission for accreditation
The internet-based educational support has been available since 2007 and receives over
2000 visits per month from all over the world. It has the support of all the UK
accreditation schemes in built environment conservation.
A desk survey of electronic resources in the subject domain suggests that the
educational support material is unique in the world.
Technical paper
Working in built environment conservation (preservation in American terminology)
involves dealing with buildings, engineering structures, landscapes, townscapes and
monuments. The explicit aim is to prolong the life of historic assets by giving them a
sustainable new use through their sensitive adaptation, repair, maintenance and
restoration (Australia ICOMOS 1999; Bell, 1997; BSI, 1998; Earl, 2003; Feilden,
2003). Conservation forms part of the construction industry’s repair and maintenance
sector and, while it has been founded on the same technical skills developed for
studying the “new-build” sector of the built environment, the transferability of these
latter skills to conservation, repair and maintenance has been increasingly questioned.
Woodcock (1996) noted that 80% of the activity in American architectural offices
concerned existing buildings but that the criteria deemed to be fundamental knowledge
by the National Architectural Accrediting Board included no reference to adaptive use
or historic conservation, a situation that is unchanged in 2009 (NAAB, 2009). Recent
reports in the UK (NHTG, 2008) have shown that a very high proportion of
professionals working in this sector acknowledge that their educational development
leaves them ill-equipped for work on existing buildings: 25% of professionals
interviewed in the 2008 NHTG professional study reported that they had insufficient
expertise to be able to specify traditional building materials with confidence, and over
70% had no training or personal development strategy to enable them to appropriately
approach work on traditional buildings constructed before 1919. In Australasia, a recent
heritage trades training report (Godden Mackay Logan, 2010) identified a similar
situation, with inadequate training for practitioners entering the industry, poorly
structured and uncontrolled on-the-job training, and a need for quality standards and
mechanisms for their enforcement. Since conservation has developed a philosophical
approach and a set of specific ethics for dealing with the heritage of what already exists
(Earl, 2003; Feilden, 2003; Humberstone, 1997), it would appear that the key
conservation principles - of integrity, authenticity, reversibility and minimum
intervention - need to be better understood and practised by professionals at large.
This shortfall in skills and understanding can, in principle, be remedied by an increased
emphasis on existing buildings in the curriculum of initial training in architecture,
surveying, building and engineering, and this needs to be encouraged, but such a
strategy would still leave large numbers of ill-informed professionals already in
practice. This conundrum could be solved by developing an understanding of
conservation and by building up their decision-making skills and experience through
practice, supported either by enrolment in relevant postgraduate courses and/or by
pursuing more structured, relevant, continuing professional development (CPD). The
increasing trend towards professional accreditation of practitioners favours the
structured approach and this paper describes a framework that has been developed to
support professionals in this activity. Based on a desk survey of electronic resources
available in this subject domain, it appears that this approach is unique in the world.
Governments across the world recognise the importance of the quality of the built
environment. The UK government has committed itself to improving the quality of
architectural design and recognises the role played by historic buildings in promoting
that quality. For example, one objective of the Policy on Architecture for Scotland
(Scottish Executive, 2001) is “to promote the value and benefits of good
architecture...[and] commission and publish research on matters relating to
building conservation and traditional materials”. Another is “to foster excellence in
design, acknowledge and celebrate achievement in the field of architecture and the built
environment, and promote Scottish architecture at home and abroad”. This will be met
by working to “promote the imaginative re-use of old buildings and develop the skills
necessary for their conservation, repair and maintenance.” (Scottish Executive, 2001).
Similar sentiments underpin the work of the UK Commission on Architecture and the
Built Environment (CABE, 2006). The UK government’s policy statement (DCMS,
2002) “looks to a future in which the historic environment is accessible to everybody
and is seen as something with which the whole of society can identify and engage, ... the
historic environment is protected and sustained for the benefit of our own and future
generations, ... [and] the historic environment’s importance as an economic asset is
skilfully harnessed.” This was reiterated in Planning Policy Statement 5 (DCLG 2010),
in a commitment to conserve England’s heritage assets by ensuring that decisions are
based on significance and that they are put to uses consistent with their conservation.
Recognising that “the preservation of this irreplaceable heritage [of historic
properties] is in the public interest so that its vital legacy of cultural, educational,
aesthetic, inspirational, economic, and energy benefits will be maintained and enriched
for future generations of Americans”, the US National Historic Preservation Act
(NHPA, 1992) requires all federal agencies to establish programmes for the
identification, evaluation and protection of historic properties, and provides assistance
to non-federal agencies. Elsewhere, for example, South Korea’s Cultural Heritage
Administration seeks to “enhance the quality of conservation and management of
cultural heritage in order to increase the social, historical and economic values of
cultural heritage” by designation, approvals, support, management and education
(CHPA, 2011).
The value of the built heritage is being increasingly recognised, even though it may be
difficult to quantify that value (Allison et al, 1996). The Advisory Council on Historic
Preservation (ACHP, 2008) compiled a bibliography of reports on the economic impact
of historic preservation, revealing, for example, over $1.4 billion of economic activity
in Texas in one year and creation of 7550 jobs in Georgia in five years. Cultural tourism
is recognised as a major contributor to the economies of many countries. For example,
in 2008, 15 million tourists visited Scotland for one or more nights, spending £4 billion
and contributing 11% to the economy of the service sector (VisitScotland, 2009).
Tourists are attracted by and drawn to the historic built environment, and they expect to
see buildings and structures in appropriate condition, and well-maintained settings. In
2008 90% of international tourists visited cities, castles, historic houses and palaces and
75% visited Scottish architecture (VisitScotland 2008). Direct and indirect expenditure
by heritage tourists in Colorado reached $3.1 billion in one year (ACHP, 2008). Culture
and heritage are key contributors to a sense of national identity and place. People enjoy
being able to identify their origins, and to appreciate buildings through their association
with particular historical events. The built heritage offers essential aids in the education
process. The quality of life is also enhanced by the enlightened conservation and
imaginative re-use of old buildings. Run-down districts can be given new leases of life,
and communities re-invigorated, by effective conservation and restoration work
(English Heritage, 2000). Conservation activities contribute to the sustainability agenda:
extending the life of existing buildings avoids the waste of what environmental agencies
(e.g. Countryside Commission, 1997) call “environmental capital” - the resources and
energy embodied in the existing built environment. Finally, because conservation,
repair and maintenance, with an annual turnover of about £6 billion (COTAC, 2010),
accounts for 43% of all the UK’s construction activity, conservation works make a
significant economic contribution to the construction industry.
However, the size of the conservation, repair and maintenance sector in the UK is not
matched by the current construction industry’s educational and training provision. As
already noted, this, almost exclusively, focuses on the issues of new-build work, which
in turn leads to variable levels of practitioner competence in conservation, repair and
maintenance. Some of the statutory agencies that administer government grant-aid to
building conservation projects in the UK increasingly became concerned over this
variability in the early 1980s, with subsequent indications of a positive move to the
accreditation of practitioners being eventually issued by Scotland’s Historic Buildings
Council (HBC) in their Annual Reports of 1997 - 1998 and 2000 - 2001. (e.g.
Johnstone, 1999). Recognising that the best-informed practitioners can be outstanding
in their professional approach and methodology, the performance of others on some
grant-aided conservation projects had been observed by the HBC to have fallen
somewhat below the expected standards, with adverse consequences for project costs
and the quality of finished work. To help address this issue, Historic Scotland and
English Heritage, with pressure coming from, and support of, the surveying and
architectural professional bodies, subsequently required grant-assisted, historic building
repair projects to be led by an accredited practitioner. Consequently, others have
recognised the value of this approach, and it is becoming common for local authorities
to make it a condition of listed building or similar planning consent, and the need for
accredited status is increasingly appearing as a requirement in job descriptions. In
addition, official discussions are continuing with Cadw, in Wales, and the Northern
Ireland Environment and Heritage Service, to determine whether a requirement for
accredited status should become a condition of grant-aided projects under their
jurisdiction. Meantime, in the Republic of Ireland, local authority planning departments
specifically require identified accredited practitioners to be an integral part of
development projects associated with the built heritage.
It should be noted that recognition or licensing to practise is already required in other
parts of the world. In Japan, conservation architects undergo special training and
practical experience leading to a licence issued by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and
only those licensed are authorised to supervise site offices for the repair of national or
prefectural properties (Enders and Gutschow, 1998). Similarly, in France, only those
classified as a Chief Architect for Historical Monuments are permitted by the Ministry
of Culture to manage works to state-owned listed buildings (Wikipedia France, 2011).
In contrast, Woodcock (1996) felt that there was little prospect of professional
certification of preservation practitioners in the USA.
In response to this discrepancy in professional education, in recent years a variety of
schemes of accreditation in building conservation, managed by professional bodies have
emerged in the UK. These include the
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS, 1992)
Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS, 1995)
Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC, 1998)
Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI, 2001)
Conservation Accreditation Register for Engineers (CARE, 2003)
Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT, 2008)
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA, 2010)
Both the RIBA and AABC schemes are open to all Architects Registration Board
(ARB) Registered Architects. Furthermore, the more recently established RIBA scheme
also accommodates Chartered Architects of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects
(RSUA) and Royal Society of Architects in Wales (RSAW) who wish to apply. While
four schemes accredit individuals to a single level of proven competence, the RIAS and
AABC operate on two levels of accredited status, and the RIBA scheme has three, the
entry level of which is intended to encourage young professional to apply. As a result of
these initiatives, over 400 professionals have previously been accredited in the UK,
with a further 100 individuals having been assessed, endorsed and recently added
through the new RIBA scheme.
Linking across all these initiatives, the Edinburgh Group is a pan-professional forum
initially convened and enabled by Historic Scotland, which, since 2008, has been
administered by the Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation (COTAC).
Since 2001 it has consistently been promoting a common approach to accreditation in
building conservation (Maxwell et al, 2004), which requires practitioners to
demonstrate their personal competence and relevant experience through a portfolio of
suitable evidence of their decision making, subject to peer-review. With progress on the
various schemes still ongoing, the history of this initiative is unfinished and beyond the
scope of this paper; however, more focused direction and support in the form of CPD,
would undoubtedly be beneficial to assist those who anticipate applying for
accreditation. CPD would help practitioners develop their skills, evaluate their
competence, and assemble and present their individual portfolios of evidence for
assessment. This approach was considered relevant by members of the Edinburgh
Group to help deliver the improvements in professionals’ abilities and competences that
the accreditation initiatives set out to achieve.
This paper focuses on the set of competences initially presented to, and agreed upon by,
the Edinburgh Group in 2001. An educational framework was prepared from these,
which, in turn, has been developed into a set of easily accessible internet-based learning
support materials for use by practitioners. The aim is to challenge participants’
perception of why they intervene in conservation projects and the impact of those
interventions on cultural significance. It starts from the premise that because users are
already experienced and knowledgeable in their discipline and professional practice,
this framework does not duplicate the already existing body of accessible information.
However, challenging self-assessment questions compel professionals to re-examine
their perceptions and values with regard to conservation issues. It also helps them
assemble a personal portfolio, defined as a comprehensive collection of appropriate
documents and graphical material with an accompanying narrative. This evidence is
intended to demonstrate clearly their competence to those responsible for assessing their
application for accreditation through any of the professional schemes.
Following a brief survey of the educational and professional development context,
particularly in relation to built environment conservation the rationale for the
competences and the framework in which they are incorporated are described later,
together with a brief description of the support materials.
CPD can be seen as a process in which individual practitioners engage in a continuing
process of reflection and action throughout their working lives (Megginson and
Whitaker, 2007). Professional bodies recognise that it is crucial to ensure that their
members keep up to date with the latest thinking and current issues in order to be able
to provide a professional service throughout their working lives, careers which may
include several changes of direction (Handy, 1994). Kennedy (2005) identifies nine
models of CPD, which she categorises in terms of their capacity for transformative
practice and professional autonomy. While she discusses these in the context of CPD
for teachers, they are equally applicable to conservation professionals, for whom the
goal, implicit in the discussion above, is to transform their practice for the better, while
recognising their role as autonomous actors in the care and enhancement of the built
environment. The nine models are as follows.
1. The training model of CPD supports a skills-based, technocratic view of practice and
is generally delivered by an expert, who sets the agenda, to a participant, who adopts a
somewhat passive role.
2. The award-bearing model emphasises the achievement of qualifications or chartered
status through programmes of academic study that may or may not be practice based.
3. The deficit model is typically based within a performance management context and
attempts to remedy perceived weaknesses in individual practitioner performance,
implicitly measured against a baseline of competence.
4. The cascade model involves individuals attending training events and then cascading
or disseminating the information to their colleagues, such information typically being
skills- or knowledge-focussed but rarely focusing on values or attitudes nor questioning
why an action is undertaken.
5. The standards- or competence-based model typically involves the centralised external
definition of competences that must be achieved by all practitioners, who may then be
discouraged from considering alternative approaches to those promoted by the
6. The coaching or mentoring model commonly requires a one-to-one hierarchical
relationship between a novice and an experienced professional, akin to that of an
apprenticeship, which can transmit not only skills and knowledge but also a wide range
of messages about how and why actions are performed. It can also, if the actors are
peers, be a “confidential process … to reflect upon current practices; expand, refine
and build new skills…[and] share ideas.” (Kennedy, 2005) This moves CPD into a
more reflective approach.
7. The community of practice model is similar to the peer-based coaching / mentoring
model but involves a group of people and is clearly not confidential. It relies on a social
theory of learning whereby learning happens as a result of the community and not
merely as a result of planned learning events such as courses.
8. The action research model encourages practitioners to study some aspect of their
practice by involving themselves as participant researchers. It provides them with an
opportunity to ask critical questions of their practice, and shifts practitioners from a
dependence on the outcomes of other people’s research into practice towards being
empowered to identify and implement relevant research activities of their own. It has
significant capacity for transformative practice and professional autonomy.
9. The transformative model is an effective integration of a range of processes and
conditions drawn from the other models, together with an awareness of the issues of
power embedded in the processes. The key aims are to support a transformative agenda,
with values and attitudes in addition to knowledge and skills, without the constraints of
imposed standards and accountability, and to support the professional in taking control
of his/her professional development.
In questioning the purpose of CPD as a means of transmission of skills and knowledge
or as a means of transforming practice and attitudes, Kennedy (2005) identifies a
spectrum along which these nine models can be placed. She calls the first four
‘transmission’ models for their focus on transmitting skills or knowledge, the next three
‘transformative’ for their ability to transform practice. The capacity for professional
autonomy increases in that order. She argues that transformative practice and
professional autonomy require professionals to be able to articulate their own
conceptions of what their practice involves and then be able to select and justify
appropriate modes of practice.
Reflective practice is a core requirement of transformative CPD and is widely
recommended in education and professional development. According to Race (2002)
“Reflection deepens learning. The act of reflecting is one that causes us to make sense
of what we’ve learned, why we learned it and how that particular increment of learning
took place.” Reflection on actions taken involves thinking about how effective they
were and the consequences that followed (Cowan 1998) and is based on the classic
cycle of experience – reflection – experimentation – experience (Kolb 1984). Schön
(1983) asserts that professional practitioners almost unconsciously take decisions about
action using accumulated knowledge and understanding but that conscious reflection
becomes important when dealing with “situations of uncertainty, instability, uniqueness
and value conflict”. These situations are precisely those that are regularly encountered
by building conservation practitioners in their work and therefore reflection is central to
their activities.
While a review of CPD provision in building conservation is beyond the scope of this
paper, it can be noted that the leading professional institutions require members to
undergo a specified number of hours of CPD each year without significant restrictions
on the type of content, although members can expect to be audited on their activities to
ensure compliance. CPD provision includes short courses, lasting from an hour to a few
days, both face-to-face (with the capacity for hands-on experiences) and remote,
delivered by a variety of media, such as web-based on-line seminars, webinars,
podcasts, Facebook and YouTube videos of techniques at a how-to-do-it level. Some
providers offer a self-test facility where participants answer a multiple choice
questionnaire on-line which is checked electronically and a certificate of achievement
awarded. It is possible to find this kind of provision all over the developed world and
the common feature is that it falls into the category of transmission CPD (Kennedy,
2005): it transmits skills and knowledge but does not lend itself to reflection. An
internet search using Google® failed to reveal any support materials in the building
conservation field which challenge users to reflect on why they do what they do, and
which deal with the particular issues faced by building conservation practitioners. This
lacuna led to the specification that the materials to support practitioners working
towards accreditation should be transformative, forcing users to reflect on their work;
comprehensive; and internet-based to ensure that users have access without having to
attend a training venue.
The 14 criteria outlined in the international ICOMOS Education and Training
Guidelines ratified by the ICOMOS General Assembly during its meeting in Sri Lanka
in 1993 (see Table 1) are the key reference points (ICOMOS, 1993), coupled with an
understanding of the promoted conservation standards, policies and charters (Bell,
1997; (BS 7913) BSI, 1998; Historic Scotland, 1998). The ICOMOS Guidelines were
originally conceived and promoted as an integrated educational and training framework
through identifying the functions relevant to conservation professionals, technologists
and craft operatives. Stating that “conservation works should only be entrusted to
persons competent in these specialist activities”, the guidelines refer to ensembles
(groups of buildings and their settings), monuments and sites defined as such by the
World Heritage Convention of 1972. This includes historic buildings, historic areas and
towns, archaeological sites and their contents, in addition to cultural and historic
landscapes. As recognised and adopted by the Edinburgh Group, there is a strong
underlying argument that the Guidelines should underpin work on all existing
traditionally constructed buildings.
Table 1 The 1993 ICOMOS Education and Training Guidelines (Section 5, 14 clauses)
Clause Conservation works should only be entrusted to persons competent in these
specialist activities. Education and training should produce from a range of
professionals, conservationists who are able to:
read a monument, ensemble or site and identify its emotional, cultural and use
understand the history and technology of a monument, ensemble or site, in
order to define their identity, plan for their conservation and interpret the
results of this research
understand the setting of a monument, ensemble or site, its context and
surroundings, in relation to other buildings, gardens or landscapes
find and absorb all available sources of information relevant to the monument,
ensemble or site being studied
understand and analyse the behaviour of monuments, ensembles or sites as
complex systems
diagnose intrinsic and extrinsic causes of decay as a basis for appropriate
inspect and make reports intelligible to non-specialist readers of monuments,
ensembles or sites illustrated by graphic means such as sketches and
know, understand and apply UNESCO conventions and recommendations, and
ICOMOS and other recognised Charters, regulations and guidelines
make balanced judgements based on shared ethical principles, and accept
responsibility for the long term welfare of cultural heritage
recognise when advice must be sought and define the areas of need of study by
different specialists, e.g. wall paintings, sculptures and objects of artistic and
cultural value, and/or studies of materials and systems
give expert advice on maintenance strategies, management policies and the
policy framework for environmental protection and the preservation of
monuments and their contents and sites
document the works executed and make same accessible
work in multi-disciplinary groups using sound methods
work with inhabitants, administrators and planners to resolve conflicts and to
develop conservation strategies appropriate to local needs, abilities and
The 14 fundamental clauses in section 5 of the ICOMOS Guidelines create an
interlocking set of desiderata. However, because of a lack of awareness, some
individual practitioners have experienced difficulty in understanding or interpreting the
clauses, and therefore an aim of the Edinburgh Group’s work was to provide a
simplified basis to overcome this hurdle. Additionally, despite the fact that all of the
UK’s postgraduate building conservation courses are based on an interpretation of the
same Guidelines, some wrongly consider that their direct translation into a formal
curriculum is problematic.
[It should be noted that re-drafting and updating work on the 1993 edition of the
ICOMOS Education and Training Guidelines is currently in progress. Building upon the
1993 version, the update is likely to reflect recent changes in conservation practice
driven by concerns over sustainability issues, climate change influences and energy
efficiency requirements. However, this paper refers to the original 1993 ICOMOS
Possessing many years of experience in architectural conservation education, Bell
(2001) provided the simplified basis. This was based upon a consideration of the
conservation process in terms of the seven sequential stages of a typical project:
Investigation and assessment of the cultural significance of a site;
Investigation and assessment of its physical condition;
Conservation planning and the definition of issues;
Resolution of social and economic issues;
Resolution of technical issues;
Implementation of an action plan; and
Management of a site of cultural significance.
By dealing with the definition of issues (stage (iii)) together with their resolution stages
(iv) and (v), and by recognising that the final two stages (vi) and (vii) are both related to
management of the site over its lifetime, it became possible to propose an integrated
five-unit framework, as described in the next section.
Stirling and Bölling (2002) amplified Bell’s content to assist individuals identify where
they lack particular knowledge or expertise, and expounded the framework to inform
the provision of appropriate professional development and training. Recognising that
conservation needs are additional to basic professional qualifications, the competence
framework is divided into five units. Each unit has a clear statement of its aims, the
competences required and examples of the sort of evidence that practitioners would
expect to provide for peer assessment. Every unit includes the explicit requirement that
practitioners should show appropriate knowledge and understanding of conservation
principles and ethics, and the impact these have on their work.
6.1 Unit 1 Cultural significance
The success of every conservation project depends on understanding the site’s cultural
significance. By identifying the site’s qualities, what needs to be protected against
decay, intervention or removal, becomes clear. Working within a common code of
ethics prevents the application of contemporary social, political or individual bias to
what should be sensitively dealt with. The unit aims to explain the concepts upon which
the significance of a building or site is based, and to provide tools to investigate and
assess the historical, cultural, social or other components of this significance..
After completing the unit, practitioners should be able to identify, survey, assess and
analyse sources relating to the historical, cultural, social or emotional significance of a
site, and record it as appropriate. As a result, they will be able to identify vulnerable
aspects of a site and define their philosophical approach to its conservation - from
which evidence of their abilities in appropriate decision-making will emerge.
6.2 Unit 2 Aesthetic qualities and value
Aesthetic or architectural quality is a major component in the assessed value of most
historic buildings and areas. Because any intervention might affect appearance, and thus
the historic and cultural value of the asset, no project work should be undertaken
without fully understanding its impact on the existing aesthetic quality. This unit aims
to ensure that practitioners are able to identify aesthetic quality and value, and therefore
design interventions that meet the requirements of the brief, without reducing the
existing aesthetic quality.
Practitioners should be able to identify, survey and understand the aesthetic quality of
any structure in terms of its formal concept, spatial relationships, massing, form and
proportion, influence of light, colour and texture, detailing, and use of materials. From
this they will be able to better identify existing qualities and vulnerable areas, and
define a conservation philosophy. They should be able to appraise alternative solutions
and choose those that satisfy the technical, functional and economic requirements of the
brief with minimum impact on existing quality. The level of intervention may range
from basic repairs to full scale re-use, alteration, adaptation, addition, and landscaping,
whilst satisfying public access needs, safety requirements and the possible introduction
of modern services.
6.3 Unit 3 Investigation, materials and technology
The special qualities of cultural sites can often restrict the choice of investigative and
repair methods that can be used. Furthermore, construction that does not conform to
present day standards is not necessarily defective, and should not be changed without
serious consideration. Clearly, original materials that have deteriorated beyond repair
through environmental processes and other influences may need replacement, but the
reasons for the deterioration and degradation should be fully understood and addressed.
This unit aims to ensure that practitioners have the skills to carry out a condition survey,
investigate defects and make balanced decisions regarding the options for action within
sites of cultural significance.
Practitioners should be able to select and use appropriate survey methods, employing
specialists as necessary, and back up their decisions by documentary evidence, to
identify defective material, structure and construction, and the causes of decay and its
likely impact. Having completed this unit they should be able to identify vulnerable
areas and define a suitable conservation philosophy. They should also be able to
appraise, and select from alternative solutions to deal with the problems presented, in
order to preserve the significance and authenticity of the site or building.
6.4 Unit 4 Social and financial issues
This unit covers a broad range of social, financial and other activities associated with
the use, evaluation and management of sites of cultural significance. Function, use,
ownership, property valuation, public attitudes and external factors, such as vibration
from highways and railways, mining subsidence, atmospheric pollution, vandalism and
theft, all need to be investigated and their impact assessed before relevant conservation
plans can be drawn up. Legislative controls and the existence of potential new uses,
together with the availability of project funding and sustainable income sources for the
building after conservation, may all restrict the options available to the practitioner.
This unit aims to ensure that practitioners can make balanced and defensible decisions
about options for action, and develop these in such a way as to resolve the social and
economic issues that threaten the building or site. Practitioners should be able to deploy
or call upon specialists as necessary in all the above areas.
6.5 Unit 5 Implementation and management of conservation works
Significant problems created by the asset’s sensitivity influence the way the work
should proceed and help determine the use of the most suitable form of contract,
contractor or directly employed labour that might be engaged. The sustainable
continuing use of the asset requires consideration of potentially larger numbers of users,
greater environmental impact during its lifetime, and resilience to future climate
change. This unit aims to ensure that practitioners involved in the financial and
managerial aspects of implementing a conservation plan or project can do so without
damaging or compromising the cultural significance of the asset, and can implement
measures to ensure its future survival.
To assure success, practitioners must be aware of the special needs of conservation
projects in identifying the standards of work required and in appointing suitably expert
contractors for it, in selecting appropriate means of procurement, cost planning and
control, and in the management and supervision of works in progress. They must also
be able to develop and assist in implementing short and long term maintenance plans,
provide for the sustainable management of associated factors (e.g. tourism) and be able
to assist in continuing monitoring and review of the asset’s overall condition,
significance and conservation.
The mapping of these five units in relation to the fourteen ICOMOS Education and
Training Guidelines is summarised in Table 2. This demonstrates that all of the
guidelines are covered by the competences addressed in the five units. As a result, the
units are solidly grounded on internationally recognised precepts.
Table 2 Matching of 5 Units to the 1993 ICOMOS Education and Training Guidelines
Unit 1
Unit 2
Unit 3
Unit 4
Unit 5
While it would be tempting to imagine that different professional groups might be
concerned with only some of the units and/or guidelines, such a notion is unfounded.
For example, designers might consider themselves to be concerned only with Unit 2,
but all design interventions require an understanding of the building (Unit 1), the syntax
of materials and construction technology (Unit 3), consideration of users and costs (Unit
4) and management of the process (Unit 5). The same argument can be applied to
planners, surveyors, construction managers and the various engineering disciplines, so it
is clear that the underlying framework provides a universally applicable set of
Fundamentally, the framework acknowledges that professionals using it already possess
a body of knowledge and skills as a result of their undergraduate training in their own
discipline. However, it is also predicated on the basic premise that conservation requires
this knowledge and skill to be applied in a context that is ethically and philosophically
different from that of a new building. Conservation projects require a different approach
from new-build work because heritage assets have an established value to society that
must be recognised, evaluated and understood before any work of intervention is
undertaken. This need for recognition and identification of value underpins all
conservation decisions associated with heritage assets, and is the basis for all national
inventories of heritage assets: without an assessment of what is valuable no rational
policy of conservation can be developed (Earl, 2003).
The framework has been developed into a set of educational support materials in a webbased format. Web technology enables the material to be an evolving resource that can
be amended over time, free of the constraints inherent in traditional publishing. The
website was set up to be capable of instant editing, re-formatting, revision and updating,
allowing those responsible for its administration to make minor changes to the text
without affecting the site’s inner workings. Pages can be easily adjusted, as all versions
of them are stored for retrieval as necessary. Every page is created using database
technologies, allowing simple changes to be made by the site administrator, with
minimal intervention by technical support staff. In essence, it has the benefit of offering
a supportive and fully up-to-date, structured suite of building conservation-orientated
CPD activities that individuals can use at their own pace.
Finally, it was originally seen as important in designing the website architecture to
include a note-taking facility and a means of bookmarking so that users, once logged in
and registered, can record their progress as they work through the site. Once this feature
has been enabled (it is currently dormant), it will be possible for candidates who wish to
submit themselves for peer-reviewed accreditation status to their professional body, to
log-in and build up their personal portfolio online. (Activation of this facility will
require the various professional bodies to enable the dormant links to their own online
accreditation scheme proforma, but this process has yet to be instituted). The same site
architecture would also enable users to record their related CPD activities on the site,
should this be a requirement of the professional body as part of their individual
portfolio submission process for accreditation.
The website’s opening page reflects on a key point recognised by ICOMOS: that
conservation projects typically require both an interdisciplinary approach and a need for
craftspersons and communities. A single click from the homepage leads users directly
to each of the 5 units and to a comprehensive glossary of terms. The site offers relevant
support material, text, illustrations, and links to other relevant sites, and presents
numerous self-assessment questions and other challenging exercises. The section
headings listed in Table 3 hint at the comprehensive nature of this content.
Table 3 Contents of
Unit 1
Unit 2
Unit 3
Unit 4
Cultural Significance
Aesthetic qualities and values
Investigation, materials and
Social and financial issues
1.01 Preface
1.02 Unit Overview
1.03 Selected quotations
1.04 Introduction and
overview of cultural
1.05 Components of
1.06 International charters and
society's response
1.07 Conservation strategy
1.08 Recording
1.09 Self-assessment questions
1.10 Provision of evidence
1.11 In conclusion
1.12 Reading lists
2.01 Preface
2.02 Unit overview
2.03 Introduction
2.04 Architectural/Aesthetic
2.05 Area analysis
2.06 Conservation strategy
2.07 Degrees of intervention
2.08 Determining appropriate
levels of intervention
2.09 In conclusion
2.10 Reading lists
3.01 Preface
3.02 Unit overview
3.03 Introduction
3.04 Investigation and survey
3.05 Materials
3.06 Construction
3.07 Structure
3.08 Conservation strategy
3.09 Repair techniques
3.10 Conclusion
3.11 Reading lists
Unit 5
Implementation and
management of
conservation works
4.01 Preface
5.01 Preface
4.02 Unit overview
5.02 Unit overview
4.03 Introduction
5.03 Conservation strategy
4.04 Function use and
5.04 Identification and
selection of advisers and
4.05 Property valuation
4.06 Public attitudes
5.05 Contracts and
4.07 External factors
4.08 Conservation strategy
5.06 Cost planning and cost
4.09 Legislative controls
4.10 Compatible re-users
5.07 Management of works
4.11 Identification and use of
funding sources
5.08 Maintenance plans
4.12 Identification and
5.09 Health and safety
assessment of income sources 5.10 Management of
4.13 Promotion, understanding tourism
and interpretation
5.11 Monitoring and review
4.14 Provision of evidence
5.12 Provision of evidence
4.15 Conclusion
5.13 Conclusions
4.16 Reading lists
5.14 Reading lists
The textual material in the units is amply illustrated and provided with links to other
resources. An important requirement was to encourage users to engage with the
material; therefore the self-assessment questions were included to be thought provoking
and challenging. For example, in the section on components of significance (section
1.05), there are the following five aspects:
Consider the effects of a major fire on a building of local and national
importance where a substantial part of the fabric and structure of that
building was lost as a result of the fire.
In respect of a redundant urban church, consider the question as to the
extent to which it is acceptable to convert the church to a drop in centre
with coffee bar.
Identify at least one example of 20th and 21st century buildings that may
have significance in respect of: a. Celebratory or commemorative
importance (related to an event or societal need to commemorate an
event), b. Aesthetic importance – an example of good design or an
example of a famous architect’s work.
Identify a 20th century building that was an example of a particular
architectural design period that has recently been lost through
demolition and reflect on why such loss is significant.
Consider how a building can have different significance for different
sections of society.
None of these matters is answered explicitly, but links to relevant resources are
provided, and points to guide the process of reflection and consideration are given. The
questions aim to encourage candidates to evaluate their knowledge and understanding
of the philosophy that underpins the approach to conservation. There are no rules, but
only consensus and guidance based on an internationally agreed approach to
conservation philosophy. As Humberstone (1997) points out “… there are two clear
lessons which have emerged from the common experience of those who work with and
care for historic structures. The first … is there are no hard and fast rules on which to
base decisions. Second, that there will usually be a range of possible options or
‘solutions’ available to practitioners in any one case.” This reflective learning and selfevaluation is firmly grounded in educational theory (Kolb 1984, Schon 1995, Race
2002) as a complex and deliberate process of interpreting experience. The website
prompts readers to reflect on sample situations and consider their response to them,
encouraging an evaluation of their own decisions to enrich their learning and enhance
their portfolios of evidence.
( originally went live in March 2007 and is clearly
satisfying a considerable need. Usage grew to over 2,000 visits per month in 2009, with
the typical visitor viewing three pages, and a total of 20,000 hits per month. Over
500,000 hits had been registered up to July 2010, a high score for a website of this
nature. Tracking the server which originates the visit has revealed that these include a
high proportion of “.com” visitors, indicating that they were commercial organizations,
followed by those with a “.uk” identity. However, the geographical spread is wide, with
users identified from the USA, Mexico, Georgia, Latvia, Hungary, Australia, New
Zealand and Brazil. This confirms the international relevance of the site, and justifies
the strong link to the internationally agreed ICOMOS Education and Training
In order to obtain a user perspective on the website and its contents, a short online
questionnaire was circulated in April 2011 to 70 practitioners in the AABC register who
had been accredited during the period since the website had been launched - 28 of
which completed the questionnaire. Strengths of the website were reported to be “an
amazing amount of information logically set out”, together with an “ordered approach
leading the student to the next stage”, while the only weaknesses identified were that “it
is a bit wordy and sometimes repetitive”, with “possibly too many pages”. The only
significant improvements offered by the respondents were to streamline it a little and to
update the graphics. All found it easy to use and to give them new information and only
one respondent disagreed with the statement “the website made me think about the way
I make decisions.” Based on an admittedly small sample, these are positive opinions
that suggest that the website is serving its intended purpose of assisting people work on
their portfolios of evidence for accreditation. A follow-up study to investigate the
transformative effects of this form of presentation on the practice of professionals
would clearly be useful, when funding becomes available.
The website and its support materials have the potential to positively influence building
conservation practice in countries with less well developed awareness. For example,
Godden Mackay Logan (2010) strongly recommend the establishment of an
Australasian heritage training and education accreditation taskforce with the aim of
identifying core competences and accrediting educational products that deliver such
training. This would lead ultimately to a requirement that professionals be appropriately
qualified for the work in hand and to some form of professional accreditation. The
support materials described in this paper clearly have the potential to contribute to such
professional development activities and underpin the nascent accreditation scheme.
Fidler (2009) observes that there is potential for European construction professions to
follow the UK’s lead in developing their own conservation accreditation programmes
that look towards a free market in conservation services across the European Union.
Because conservation awareness and understanding has been generally omitted from
undergraduate architectural and building education, where the primary emphasis for
more than half a century has been on new-build activities, the value, gain and potential
impact from using the site should not be underestimated.
Since almost half of the UK’s construction industry activities are in the conservation,
repair and maintenance sector, as shown by recent research findings of the National
Heritage Training Group and others (NHTG, 2008), there is a clear mismatch between
the education and the required operational skills of those who work in the area. The
website will assist in addressing this imbalance.
A common set of competences for professionals working in built environment
conservation have been identified. Support materials for professionals to improve their
personal competence, and work towards achieving accreditation status in building
conservation from their professional body, have been set up on a website. Over time,
this is expected to significantly contribute to the supply of competent accredited
professional individuals, leading to an improvement in the overall quality of
The website could be of considerable benefit to
eligible practitioners in all of the schemes, should they consider applying for accredited
It should also be noted that the successful conservation of historic buildings and
structures requires the integrated availability of knowledge and understanding, access to
appropriate traditional materials, and a pool of well-trained craft skills. This paper has
considered only the first of these three aspects. Other integrated initiatives are required
to ensure that sufficient matching supplies of traditional building materials and the
availability of relevant craft skills are also developed in unison.
We gratefully acknowledge the enthusiastic cooperation of the directors and staff of, Norwich, and the helpful comments made by past and present
members of the Edinburgh Group.
AABC (1998), (accessed July 20th 2010).
ACHP (2008), Web-available studies on the economic impacts of historic preservation, (accessed May 2nd 2011)
Allison, G, Ball, S, Cheshire, P, Evans, A, Stabler, M (1996), The value of
conservation? London, English Heritage.
Australia ICOMOS (1999), The Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS charter for
places of cultural significance, Burwood, Australia ICOMOS inc.
Bell, D (1997), The Historic Scotland guide to international conservation charters,
Edinburgh, Historic Scotland.
Bell, D (2001), Research into structured support for CPD development for
accreditation in architectural conservation. Unpublished report, Commissioned from
Edinburgh College of Art by Historic Scotland.
BSI (1998), BS7193:1998 Guide to the principles of the conservation of historic
buildings, London, British Standards Institution.
CABE (2006), Corporate strategy 2006-2009. London, Commission on Architecture
and the Built Environment,
(accessed January 7th 2008)
CARE (2003), (accessed July 20th 2010).
CHPA (2011), The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea,
(accessed May 2nd 2011).
CIAT (2008), (accessed July
20th 2010).
COTAC (2010), Half a century on – the aims and objectives of COTAC 2010-2015,
London, Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation.
Countryside Commission (1997), Environmental capital: what matters and why, a
provisional guide. CAG Consultants and Land Use Consultants for Countryside
Commission, English Heritage, English Nature, Environment Agency, London.
Cowan, J (1998), On becoming an innovative university teacher, Milton Keynes, Open
University Press.
DCLG (2010), Planning policy statement 5: planning for the historic environment,
London, Department for Communities and Local Government.
DCMS (2002), The historic environment: a force for our future, London, Department
for Culture Media and Sport.
Earl, J (2003), Building conservation philosophy, Shaftesbury, Donhead.
Enders, S R C T, Gutschow, N (1998), Hozon: Architectural and Urban Conservation
in Japan, Stuttgart, Menges.
English Heritage (2000), The power of place, London, English Heritage.
Feilden, B M (2003), Conservation of historic buildings, Oxford, Architectural Press.
Fidler, J (2009), Conservation Accreditation for Architects in the United Kingdom,
Preservation Architect, The Newsletter of the Historic Resources Committee, American
Institute of Architects.
(accessed May 6th 2011).
Godden Mackay Logan (2010), Heritage trades and professional training project –
Final report. (accessed May 6th 2011).
Handy, C (1994), The empty raincoat: making sense of the future, London, Hutchinson.
Historic Scotland (1998), Memorandum of guidance on listed buildings and
conservation areas, Edinburgh, Historic Scotland.
Humberstone, J (1997) Taking the philosophical approach Building Conservation
Directory, Tisbury, Cathedral Communications Ltd.
ICOMOS (1993), Guidelines for education and training for the conservation of
monuments, ensembles and sites.
(accessed July 20th 2010).
Johnstone, R, (1999), Historic Buildings Council for Scotland 1997-1998 Annual
Report, Edinburgh, Stationery Office Books.
Kennedy, A, (2005), Models of continuing professional development: a framework for
analysis, Journal of In-service Education, 31 (2), 235-250
Kolb, D (1984) Experiential learning: experience at the source of learning and
development, London, Kogan Page.
Maxwell, I, Heath, D, Russell, P (2004), Accreditation in historic building
conservation: The work of the Edinburgh Group, Journal of Architectural Conservation,
10, 36-48.
Megginson, D, Whitaker, V (2007), Continuing professional development, London,
Chartered Institute of Professional Development.
NAAB (2009), Conditions for accreditation, Washington DC, National Architectural
Accreditation Board Inc. (accessed
May 2nd 2011).
NHPA (1992), National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (16USC470), Washington
DC, US Congress. (accessed May
2nd 2011).
NHTG (2008), Built heritage sector professionals: current skills, future training,
London, National Heritage Training Group.
Race, P (2002), Evidencing reflection: putting the “w” into reflection, (accessed July 20th 2010).
RIAI (2001),
(accessed July 20th 2010).
RIAS (1995), (accessed July 20th
RIBA (2010),
nservationRegisterinautumn2010.aspx (accessed July 20th 2010).
RICS (1992),
(accessed July 20th 2010).
Schön, DA (1995), The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action, New
York, Basic Books Inc.
Scottish Executive (2001), A policy on architecture for Scotland, Edinburgh.
Stirling, JS, Bölling, C (2002), A framework description of competence for a shared
approach to built environment conservation accreditation schemes in the UK,
Unpublished report, commissioned from Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh College
of Art by Historic Scotland.
March 15th 2010).
2008, (accessed March 15th
France,âtiments_de_France (accessed May 6th
Woodcock, D G (1996) Professional certification for preservation and rehabilitation,
in Kelley S J (editor) Preservation and rehabilitation (STP 1258), West Conshohocken,