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Conservation compendium

The Conservation compendium aims to improve the way engineers handle historic fabric through the study of historic materials, conservation philosophy, forms of construction and project examples.

Articles in the series are written by Conservation Accredited Engineers. The series editor is James Miller.

To find out more about the Conservation Accreditation Register for Engineers, visit: www.ice.org.uk/care

The series was published between January 2015 and June 2016.

 

Articles in this series

The Structural Engineer

James Miller, a Conservation Accredited Engineer, introduces a new series on conservation engineering by exploring the philosophy and history of the modern conservation movement, from its roots in the works of John Ruskin to the present day.

Publish Date - 5 January 2015

Author – J. Miller (Ramboll)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

In response to the need for particular professional skills when working on heritage assets in the UK, the principal construction professions have formed schemes for accrediting those professionals in architecture, building surveying and civil and structural engineering who have the necessary skills. This article provides details on the schemes.

Publish Date - 5 January 2015

Author – J. Avent (CARE)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

As structural engineering students, we learn about mild steel, modern design and construction methods. However, historic structures often do not fit into this mould. Whether you work in conservation or are a general practitioner, you are likely to come across cast iron, wrought iron, as well as early mild steel structures.

Publish Date - 1 February 2015

Author – J. E. Ruddy (CARE)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

Replacement of stone on historic buildings may be required for numerous reasons. These include age-related decay and weathering, poor workmanship in terms of material choice or setting, defective fixings, and structural failure. The main aim, in assessment, will be to retain the historic fabric where practical. However, the decision to replace will depend to a great extent on having a clear understanding of the significance of the stone, both individually and within the context of the element that it is part of, its predicted life or durability and its cost.

Publish Date - 27 February 2015

Author – E. Morton (The Morton Partnership Ltd)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

Cantilever stone staircases have been used in all sorts of buildings for more than 350 years. Unfortunately, when surveying buildings we can be so intent on getting from floor to floor that we forget to look at the stairs on the way. Like all structures, stairs need regular inspection and maintenance; without which, collapses can ultimately occur.

Publish Date - 1 April 2015

Author – C. Richardson (AECOM and CARE)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

Geoff Clifton describes the use of concrete as a major constituent of repair work performed on English cathedrals in the 20th century, but raises concerns about the long-term problems this use may result in.

Publish Date - 1 May 2015

Author – G. Clifton (Accredited Conservation Engineer, and Consultant to Ramboll)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

This article looks at some aspects of floor loading and how its application has changed for the better. It encourages a careful consideration of loadings to avoid unnecessary and irreversible loss of fabric through the application of significant strengthening schemes, cutting away existing historic framing.

Publish Date - 1 June 2015

Author – I. Hume (formerly English Heritage) and J. Miller (Ramboll)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

This article focuses on the phenomenon of 'bond timbers', which were commonly built into masonry walls from the late 17th to the early 19th century. Guidance is offered to engineers who may encounter these when working on an existing building.

Publish Date - 1 July 2015

Author – L. Hurst and A. Dutton (Consultants, Hurst Peirce + Malcolm LLP)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

This article is the first of two which will discuss the problem of corrosion of steel frames behind masonry elevations. It aims to provide an introduction to this form of construction and to consider the ways in which lack of maintenance can lead to corrosion of the steel frame, before setting out how remedial work should be approached.

Publish Date - 31 July 2015

Author – Eur Ing M. D. Beare (CARE, AKS Ward-Lister Beare Consulting Engineers)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

This article continues from the previous instalment in the series, and aims to guide engineers in assessing the extent of corrosion of steel frames and in selecting appropriate treatment methods.

Publish Date - 1 September 2015

Author – M.D. Beare (AKS Ward-Lister Beare Consulting Engineers)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

Our built heritage is a finite resource stretching back thousands of years. Protecting and conserving this heritage is a challenge requiring knowledge, skills and experience, together with an ability to bring practical engineering judgement and often creative and imaginative solutions. This paper sets out the challenges faced by engineers and some of the approaches taken in the appraisal and protection of ruins.

Publish Date - 1 October 2015

Author – J. Avent (Conservation Accreditation Register for Engineers)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

In this article, issues associated with the scaffolding of historic structures are briefly explored and illustrated through four case studies. These are projects that crossed the author's desk, as a consulting engineer specialising in the conservation of historic structures, within a few months of each other. They explore some of the constraints imposed by 'historic fabric' and other factors, the compromises made, and the solutions reached.

Publish Date - 2 November 2015

Author – J. Ruddy (CARE & Capstone Consulting Engineers Ltd)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

Timber and stone are the oldest known building materials. Our most ancient buildings are characterised by their use. So it is no surprise that an engineer looking after historic fabric will regularly encounter the need to repair timberwork.

The greatest threats to the structural integrity of timber are from attack by rot and insect; therefore, in the damp British Isles, those working in conservation will often need to reach for the sketchpad to record and re-detail areas damaged by the effects of moisture.

Interventions to historic timberwork are also necessary when a building is converted. This happens, for example, when floor joists are reframed or loading is assessed for a new use. While philosophically this is different to a simple repair, it nevertheless requires similar skillsets to achieve the best, most sensitive results.

This article looks briefly at these matters, first from the aspect of conservation philosophy and material choice to establish some ground rules, and then by showing some of the details typically in use in the UK today. In order to focus on these, it does not consider survey and diagnosis.

Publish Date - 1 December 2015

Author – J. Miller (Ramboll)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

The previous article in the Conservation compendium provided an introduction to common repairs and strengthening of structural timbers in historic buildings. This article continues by illustrating how structural timber fared at the Grade II listed Dunston Staiths in northeast England.

The River Tyne has been a major discharge port for coal from the UK’s Northumberland and Durham coalfields for centuries. Staiths were constructed near the mouths of navigable rivers as a means of discharging coal from railway wagons into ships, and the Dunston Staiths were the largest timber structure in Europe at the end of the 19th century. Their repair history has been reasonably well documented and so they provide a good case study for timber deterioration, selection of repair species and strength analysis.

Publish Date - 4 January 2016

Author – C. Blackett-Ord (CARE + Blackett-Ord Conservation Limited)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

In conservation work and like-for-like repair on older masonry, lime mortar is the only recommended material. The thick, plain or lightly punctured walls that make up most historic buildings have few concentrations of load. Calculations of stress in such cases are often needless and, subject perhaps to the check of any critical element, we can generally lay aside our concerns about mortar strength.

In contrast, the need to maintain a balance of moisture and flexibility in the body of an old wall is essential. Ignoring this will lead to the classic error of repointing old structures in brittle, impermeable Portland cement (OPC) mortar. The mortar provides the route for evaporation from the core and should be more permeable than the brick or stone. To reverse this by sealing the joints with a hard finish can only lead to trouble.

Publish Date - 1 February 2016

Author – T. Ryan

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

Historic buildings and structures, like any other, move to some degree, whether due to thermal effects, changes in moisture levels in the structural fabric, influences on the founding subsoil, or environmental forces. The key question for the conservation engineer is to determine whether the movement is progressive and presents a risk to the structure.

This article introduces engineers to the various techniques available to monitor movement in historic structures, from simple manual techniques which are less commonly used today, to sophisticated electronic systems. The form of monitoring will depend on the nature of the assumed movement, the funds available, and the possible consequences if the movement is progressive.

Publish Date - 1 April 2016

Author – E. Morton (The Morton Partnership Ltd)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

According to the Institution’s librarians, one of the most common requests they receive is for information on structural floor systems dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In particular, engineers appear to have a thirst to know more about filler-joist floors. This article describes their origin and how they perform.

The term “filler joist” is a generic one used for certain types of building floors dating in particular from the late Victorian era to World War II. These may commonly have embedded iron or steel joists. Those of earlier date, from the 19th century, can have wrought iron sections, or even cast iron tees in early floors. They span one way between beams or bearings, and are encased in concrete made with coke-breeze, clinker, broken brick or conventional aggregates.

The filler-joist floor was – at the time – a very important structural development, now long superseded by other systems, such as flat slabs and composite decks. It grew out of an enthusiastic age of Victorian invention that had created a wide range of proprietary, patented make-ups that all worked in a roughly similar way. Filler joists are encountered frequently in the alteration and remodelling of large office and institutional buildings.

Publish Date - 1 May 2016

Author – J. Miller (CTP Consulting Engineers)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

When existing buildings need to be inspected and assessed, the structural engineer is often presented with the challenge of needing X-ray eyes. Lacking such a gift, and despite what clients may assume, the engineer draws instead on knowledge and experience to make value judgements in many situations, with appropriate margins of safety and consideration of appropriate risk incorporated along the way. Codes of practice and British Standards are not to be ignored, but are a useful tool to assist with this process.

This article aims to discuss some of the issues, challenges, tools and techniques available to the practising structural engineer when assessing existing structures. While the article focuses principally on floor structures, the techniques can be used on a range of applications to provide an understanding of how existing structures are actually behaving, rather than how we might think they are working.

Publish Date - 1 June 2016

Author – J. Avent (Conservation Accreditation Register for Engineers)

Price – £9

The Structural Engineer

James Miller brings this series to a close by looking back over ground covered and forward to a bright future in which conservation accreditation is increasingly valued and engineers are able to innovate through the application of emerging technologies.

Publish Date - 1 June 2016

Author – J. Miller (CTP Consulting Engineers)

Price – £9