The online resource for the historic environment

3.10 Conclusion

An essential requirement for you as a conservation practitioner involves an ability to synthesise a whole raft of information and, from analysis of it, make recommendations about intervention works. These works might involve, repair and maintenance or, where called for, changes of use, rehabilitation, refurbishment, etc.

The historic record that the asset holds and offers must not be compromised by such work of intervention. It is, therefore, incumbent upon you to clearly understand the implications of any proposed intervention work; this based on detailed knowledge through research and investigation about what it is that makes the asset significant and what, in terms of its deteriology, is a threat to that significance.

You must be able to intervene in a way that demonstrates respect for significance but at the same time recognises that change may be inevitable. It is the ability to manage appropriate change that marks out good conservation practice.

You must be able to analyse and interpret information you glean from the building itself, as a primary source, and records and other documentary and secondary sources that help focus your understanding of significance.

You must be able to propose a suitable investigative methodology to assist in gaining better knowledge about the asset, its fabric, use of materials and structure. All of this knowledge is essential in order to formulate an understanding of the asset, its significance, what threatens that significance and how it is to be protected.

“The object of conservation is to prolong the life of cultural heritage and, if possible, to clarify the artistic and historical messages therein without loss of authenticity and meaning. Conservation is a cultural, artistic, technical and craft activity based on humanistic and scientific studies and systematic research. Conservation must respect the cultural context.”
ICOMOS, Guidelines on Education and Training (c)