Technical Study: Hill House, Helensburgh, by Carmody Groarke

01_hillhouse_johan_dehlin

Ike Ijeh explains how a chainmail shed is protecting a Charles Rennie Mackintosh mansion from water ingress

How do we define conservation? Is it solely the physical act of repairing old buildings? Is it the philosophical debate about the authenticity of said repair? Is it the environmental task of protecting buildings from the elements while they are being prepared? Perhaps it is the economic challenge of how old buildings can be funded when repairs close off vital revenue streams by preventing the public from visiting? Or is it the accessibility issue of whether or not old buildings should be closed to the public to enable the repairs to take place?

To various degrees these five questions fundamentally inform all conservation projects and we are going to see them writ large on the two defining conservation ventures of the next decade, the Palace of Westminster and Notre Dame cathedral. But in recent years many conservationists believe they have found a solution that addresses most of the questions posed above: to provide a temporary cover or shelter for the building while the works take place that may or may not be publically accessible. This solution is more than just scaffolding; it often provides a protective thermal as well as visual barrier for the building that allows conservation works to take place regardless of weather conditions.

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