A hands-on day of practical techniques led by four members of the outstanding team of carpenters and joiners from Carpenter, Oak & Woodland.Peter Burman, University of York
Giving a building renewed life and purpose, while retaining as much of the fabric of the building as possible, takes immense care and consideration.
When Carpenter Oak & Woodland helped to drive the renaissance of timber-framing twenty-five years ago, original medieval design and construction techniques were largely forgotten. And it was through our careful conservation work, which included the need to study old construction techniques in depth, that these skills were recovered. Today, we believe that no company matches our understanding of ancient buildings and has our ability to work with them in the same ways as those original craftsmen.
There are a number of ways to restore an old building; however the real skill is in selecting the most suitable technique to do so. By taking into consideration a number of factors like the structure of the building, its historical significance and conservation principles we are able to use the most appropriate techniques to restore that building.
An ethos of ethical conservation
Carpenter Oak & Woodland very much aligns its conservation ethics to those of the Burra Charter (The Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter, 1999). Although not conceived specifically around our own timber-frame heritage, it is nonetheless an excellent, well-thought-out set of principles which underpin our approach to timber-frame conservation. The Burra Charter advocates a cautious approach to change: ‘do as much as necessary to care for the place and to make it usable, but otherwise change as little as possible so that its cultural significance is retained’.
The importance of the Burra Charter
Although there is a traditional understanding of the terms ‘conservation, restoration and repair’ a much more useful set of definitions is available in the Burra Charter. This includes conservation, maintenance, preservation, restoration, reconstruction and adaptation. When working on conservation projects, it’s important to share a common vocabulary – and the Burra Charter provides a more precise way of describing the different kinds of conservation interventions.
Understanding the goals of our clients
It’s also important for us to understand what our clients are trying to achieve – whether that is a private client, a building’s owner or a conservation body. This has to be balanced against many things – conservation principles, funding provisos, planning permission and so on. We’re ideally placed to offer advice and help that takes all of this into account, always seeking the best outcome for the client and the building.