Without your involvement, we would not have been able to achieve the fantastic end result that we have – and that which has been remarked upon by all who have visited the site.Paul Wass, building surveyor, Dogs Trust
Conservation is a light-touch approach which tries to make the fewest changes to a building while maintaining its cultural significance.
In an ideal world, the preservation of all historic buildings would require only the lightest of touches and the fewest changes.
The lightest of touches
With a tight conservation brief, it’s important to make as few changes as possible to a building, with the goal of retaining as much of its fabric as possible. That might not be the ‘original’ fabric – if the building has changed over the years, then those changes are part of the building’s story and should, where possible, be retained. This is very much in the spirit of a building not being ‘500 years old’ but ‘having lived for 500 years’.
A key aim of conservation is to retain a building’s cultural significance – and conservation decisions (the ways in which each intervention is decided upon) are based largely on this. This cautious approach is based on a respect for the building’s fabric, use, associations and meaning – making the fewest changes needed, while ensuring that changes are reversible at a later date, where possible.
The highest levels of craftsmanship
It can require significant levels of skills to make fewer sweeping changes to a building. This is especially true of an oak frame, where part of a timber can be lost while much is still in fine condition. The easiest approach – to replace the lot – simply doesn’t respect the building. For example, during the restoration of Dolbelydr for the Landmark Trust, some beams were almost totally lost to decay. However, by carefully removing the inside of the beams, we could fit new beams perfectly into the remaining shells, sealed then with resin – leaving beams which are both structurally sound and visually display the original timber from all angles.
Trebuchet, Secrets of Lost Empires, Channel 4
Because of the complex way that buildings can decay, it’s rare that one approach can be applied to an entire building. Sometimes, for part of a conservation project, a firmer hand is needed to preserve the building. We are able to offer expert advice on the best approach, in all circumstances.