A question of heritage

23 January 2019

What’s been your favourite heritage project to work on and why?

KB – Every project has been memorable so I couldn’t choose just one, but in general I enjoy working on challenging sites with complex histories of development over time. The discovery of the past and reacting to things we uncover during the building process is all part of the process that we enjoy. This invariably means working with all sorts of specialists with new skills and ideas that are often new to me, so it’s a constant learning process.

What part does new technology play in restoring old buildings?

KB – We are now using photogrammetry as a technique to capture and inform the design process on elements at early stages of the project. This has been a fascinating development and is paying dividends in some of our post strip-out surveys without the additional costs and time delays of commissioning conventional surveys.  We are now regularly using BIM on projects which can bring huge benefits in the co-ordination of information, but it may not be appropriate on all historic projects.

How do you manage quality and workmanship when you’re dealing with the variables of historic properties?

KB – The key to a successful building project on historic properties is being flexible to respond to the unknown. I like to involve the craftspeople as part of the construction process, so the relationship between architect and builder is very important.

How do you maintain quality on complex projects with lots of challenges?

KB – Having a collaborative and supportive approach makes a huge difference. We don’t always have all the answers immediately to hand, but usually there is someone on the team who will have the necessary skills. Ultimately, understanding what clients really value is key in understanding what quality means in their mind, so defining this in the briefing exercise is important.

Old buildings can be inherently sustainable when you are re-using what’s already there. How do you integrate further sustainability into your work?

KB – Understanding how historic buildings evolved to naturally respond to their immediate climate (and the use of local building materials) is a perfect starting point. Breathable paints and lime plasters help regulate moisture and heat, but understanding the benefits of thermal mass also help us prepare for buildings that will be suitable for the next 100 years.