How should we approach conservation? (by David Millar, Austin-Smith:Lord)

How should we approach conservation? (by David Millar, Austin-Smith:Lord)

I find it both refreshing and reassuring that an inspired individual in New York City has decided to understand and revitalise heritage with the Lowline project gathering pace.  It is an ambitious re-use of a derelict tram line to create an underground park and landscape which re-energises heritage embedded within the city.

Now, I am not saying we must be inventive and find a new use for every piece of heritage that survives. No, just realise that it is important to appreciate and understand our heritage, as it can positively influence our actions and inform our current thinking, which, in turn, can lead to the enrichment of our lives and the environment that surrounds us.

Whilst New York tackles the Lowline project, Austin-Smith:Lord’s conservation architects are currently working on one of the most exciting and important conservation projects within the UK, if not Europe.  It is the restoration of The Great Pagoda at Kew Gardens, in London.

Working closely with Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) and, in particular, the surveyors, curators and project sponsor, Austin-Smith:Lord is providing the technical conservation expertise to restore The Great Pagoda to present the building as it looked at the time of construction in 1761.

Designed by the eminent architect Sir William Chambers, this exotic octagonal brick and timber tower structure resembles closely the Chinese “ting” temples that Chambers probably saw on his visits to Canton in the early 18th century.

The structure is over 150 feet tall consisting of nine storeys above ground level with each floor plate and storey height diminishing both in width and height at each floor level.  It represents a true masterpiece of 18th century English architecture.

Following extensive research by HRP and physical analysis, original paint colours and lost architectural detailing will be reintroduced on the building. This will include the restoration of the 80 dragons that once adorned each corner of the Pagoda roofs.

On completion of the restoration work the Pagoda will be opened to the public, who will be able to gain a better understanding of this remarkable heritage asset.

As details are finalised more updates will be posted…….

David Millar, Director and Head of Conservation at Austin-Smith:Lord

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