The Building Conservation Directory 2023

14 T H E B U I L D I N G C O N S E R VAT I O N D I R E C T O R Y 2 0 2 3 | C E L E B R AT I N G 3 0 Y E A R S C AT H E D R A L C O M M U N I C AT I O N S up layers from the medieval timber frame to its early 20th century metal frame windows, but the Landmark Trust’s specialists considered that its value as a 17th century farmhouse justified the removal of later features. The loss of evidential value was minimised by recording the existing Llwyn Celyn: the Landmark Trust's specialists considered that its value as a 17th century farmhouse justified the removal of later features which are now exhibited on site to minimise the loss of evidential value. (Photo: John Miller, courtesy of the Landmark Trust) Building materials often contain ‘evidential value’ which may be lost in a restoration. Here at the back of St Paul’s cathedral, for example, war damage provides valuable evidence of the building’s history. (Photo: Eva Palacios) condition and exhibiting the removed elements on-site as part of the educational experience. The localised reinstatement of features could facilitate the better reading of distorted details. For instance, the loss of a segment within a cornice can be solved by replicating the adjacent design. In that case, the evidence supports the introduction of new elements. In other cases clues to the original design may be found on site or, in the case of terraces or buildings of the same period, features lost in one building may have remained next door. Historic documents like photographs, paintings or drawings can also be of great assistance. The reintroduction of missing details should be guided by the significance of the building. A deep understanding of the building, its construction and its decoration will clarify how and which features may be reinstated. Authenticity is at stake when introducing new elements into a building: as well as the loss of original fabric there is the problem that new incorporations could be assumed to be original. So even in cases like the Glasgow School of Art where there is a good record and evidence of the original design, the repair is not straightforward. On the one hand a like-for-like reconstruction would recover the design value lost after the fire, on the other, a contemporary design within the original fabric would show the layers of its new life. A study of the building and its context would result in a better strategy for reintroducing features. Even when additions are intended to appear as new interventions, the research and analysis of the building’s significance can guide the new proposal. The contrast between original and new features can emphasise the evolution of a building, but it can also distract from the main features if, for instance, the addition breaks the characteristic symmetry of a façade. It is a fair assumption that reintroducing new features in Grade I listed buildings should be discreet to avoid disrupting their ‘exceptional interest’. Given these buildings’ uniqueness, traditional materials, techniques and design tend to be more appropriate. In the case of Grade II*, and certainly even more with Grade II, the contrast between historic and new could add value. At Astley Castle, for instance, contemporary design was considered suitable to bring the Grade II* listed building back to life. When carrying out repairs, the will to recover the original glory of the building might be tempting, but the significance of a building lies in more than just its aesthetics. Although often less immediately obvious than its architectural value, the existing fabric of a building holds historical and evidential value. The materials used and how they were put together over time also have value to be considered. As we ponder on the importance of those existing elements, the aspect of authenticity comes into play: can