The Haining, Scottish Borders – Lee Boyd

© Graeme Duncan Photography

Understanding Conservation

Architects considering Conservation Accreditation may find it useful to refer to the online resource Understanding Conservation. The aim of this site is to offer assistance and guidance to practitioners who are applying to various professional institutes to gain accreditation of building conservation skills.

It is not a course nor does it provide an easy route to accreditation, what it does seek to achieve is to influence your way of thinking and provide you with a self-assessment regime that will assist you in compiling an appropriate body of evidence to demonstrate your accrued knowledge across a range of projects. The site was developed by Heriot-Watt University under the auspices of Historic Scotland and English Heritage.

Skill Sets

It is structured around five skill sets equivalent to the five units contained within this support material:

  • Cultural significance
  • Aesthetic significance
  • Investigation, Materials and Technology
  • Social and Financial Issues
  • Implementation and Management of Conservation Works

These skill sets are based on, and condensed from, abilities a to n adopted in the ICOMOS Education and Training Guidelines: skills considered essential in order to operate as a conservation practitioner. The ICOMOS Guidelines are internationally recognised and form the basis of most conservation training courses. An outline of the Guidelines can be found through the link on the Understanding Conservation home page.

Individual practitioners seeking accreditation will already be fully qualified and experienced in their own professional disciplines. The skills essential to operate as a conservation practitioner are effectively a development of or additional to those of your professional discipline. Thus the content of each unit is not specific to a professional discipline. Its purpose is to raise the profile of conservation as an approach in its own right.

The five units in this set are not intended to be a course, but to help develop the knowledge you already have. It will be a personal challenge intended to test that knowledge and direct you towards additional knowledge or, improve your understanding and reflect on your experience.

These CPD units offer a framework for you to develop; they will not provide answers but stimulus and routes to comprehension. They are not an easy route to accreditation either! They are intended to challenge your understanding of the skills necessary to act as a conservation practitioner.

Self-assessment questions will make you question your understanding and knowledge. You should be willing to recognise that, despite your experience gained through practice, there is a more complicated, challenging and philosophical knowledge base that requires constant updating.

Following the route of the units will provide a personal challenge, requiring you to question your established values and perceptions.

The units are not designed to provide definitive answers but to question your philosophy, ethics and principles of conservation thinking. It aims to provide the spark to ignite your own investigative and reflective processes. After completing it you will be better able to assemble a portfolio of evidence in support of your application for accreditation.