Register of Architects
Accredited in Building Conservation

Guide to Conservation Skills


1.0     Introduction

1.1     Accreditation requires a framework of reference shared by applicants and assessors alike for guiding applications and justifying acceptance or deferral. Applicants and assessors are already encouraged to refer to the ICOMOS Education and Training Guidelines. These provide a general foundation, but their very universality embodies a level of generalisation that is not always sufficiently precise for more specific circumstances.  For that reason AABC has assembled a list of conservation skills based upon those Guidelines for which it expects to see evidence in applications for accreditation.

1.2     A candidate is not expected to offer direct evidence of all the skills outlined below but examples of work should be selected to provide a good range with each group represented.  It should be stressed that this is not a check-list for ticking boxes or underpinning any arithmetical calculation. The absence of evidence would only count against a candidate if it related to a clear deficiency in the example or if there were too many absences in the submission overall. It is important to concentrate upon sound principles and practice as demonstrated by the examples of work.

2.0    Philosophy and Methodology

2.1    Understanding the requirements of conservation legislation.

2.2    Understanding the philosophical and practical differences between maintenance, repair, renovation, intervention, conversion, restoration and reconstruction.

2.3    Understanding the precautionary principle in conservation, avoiding any adverse change before less damaging alternatives have been properly considered.

2.4    Understanding the principles and practicalities of reversibility.

3.0    Cultural Significance

3.1    Awareness about the principal local and national sources of information about a building.

3.2    Understanding the overall historical, archaeological and architectural significance of a building and being able to place the significance of part of a building within the context of the whole.

3.3    Ability to identify historic architects and builders, and locate a building in its architectural/ vernacular tradition.

4.0    Investigation, Materials and Technology

4.1    Ability to diagnose structural and fabric problems and to judge when technical advice should be sought.

4.2    Ability to assess the capacity of an historic asset to receive interventions or alternative uses without unacceptable impacts upon its significance.

4.3    Awareness that documented history and records of previous investigation and management should be sought and, where available, critically used in a project.

4.4    Ability to scope options for repair and identify those which are most likely to conserve the historic fabric, character and appearance of a building.

4.5    Awareness of available scientific techniques such as paint analysis and dendrochronology and how to use them in appropriate situations.

4.6    Understanding the performance characteristics of historic materials, and of a consistent and balanced approach to the diagnosis of failure and the selection of replacements that are appropriate for the type of building and the scope of the required works.

5.0    Social and Financial Issues

5.1    Awareness of the range of cultural, social and economic values that might be associated with an historic building or area and the extent to which there may be conflicts between them.

5.2    Regard for the interests of stakeholders in developing public projects, and good communication with interested communities.

5.3    Ability to promote physical and intellectual access through publicity and interpretation in appropriate projects.

5.4    Application of a conservation-led approach to regeneration schemes in historic areas.

5.5    Ability to assess and design disability access arrangements that are reasonable in the context of historic buildings.

5.6    Ability to identify and secure potential sources of grant-aid.

6.0     Implementation and Management of Works

6.1    Ability to scope and carry out appropriate preliminary investigations and research.

6.2    Ability to identify and agree project objectives.

6.3    Understanding survey and recording needs at the appropriate stages of a project.

6.4    Ability to prepare a specification for repairs that is comprehensive, accurate and clear.

6.5    Ability to convey information and illustrate instructions through the targeted use of drawings and photographs.

6.6    Involvement of relevant specialist advisers and contractors at appropriate stages of a project and a successfully integrated team-based approach to a complex project.

6.7    Demonstration of a flexible approach to managing repairs that cannot be fully diagnosed until opening up works have been completed.

6.8    Monitoring schemes of works to ensure objectives are being met, standards of performance maintained, and contingencies properly handled.

6.9    Production of properly ordered project documentation securely deposited and reasonable accessible for future projects of repair, alteration or research.

6.10  Design and execution of sensitive works of alteration to meet current needs, successfully balancing respect for setting and impact on significance with the creation of value and contemporary cultural expression.

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