IHBC Gus Astley Student Award: Winners announced

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), the professional body for built and historic environment conservation specialists, has announced the winners in its prestigious Annual Student Award.

The 2012 judge, Terry Levinthal, of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), awarded the winning prize to a student from Oxford Brookes University, and commendations to students from the University of Bath, the Architectural Association and, again, Oxford Brookes.

The winner of the 2012 IHBC Gus Astley Student Award is architect Aimee Felton. She submitted her work on listed building maintenance in non-heritage bodies to the Masters course on International Architectural Regeneration and Development at Oxford Brookes University.  Aimee, who is currently working at Julian Harrap’s leading architectural conservation practice, will receive a £300 cash prize and a free place at the IHBC’s 2013 Annual School. The IHBC School will take place in Carlisle in June and, suitably, takes ‘skills’ as its theme.

Judge Terry Levinthal said of Aimee’s winning essay: ‘Her submission reflects the great paradox that the conservation profession is facing in a recessionary environment, as the downward pressure on resources of all kinds brings a paradigm shift in our approach to conservation. Ironically, as the paper points out, the maintenance regime takes us back to the era of William Morris and the foundation of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).’

Three other submissions have been selected for commendation, as students from conservation courses in Bath, London and Oxford receive smaller cash prizes as well as offers of places at the IHBC’s Annual School.

Jo Evans, IHBC Chair, said: ‘Our Student Award is crucially important for the IHBC, and for the heritage conservation industry as a whole. It highlights the best of the diverse professions and career routes that underpin successful conservation – from engineering to history and from young students to established professionals modernising their skills.’

‘I would like to thank everyone who took the trouble to make a submission, as well as their tutors for the guidance the have provided, often with very little recognition beyond the personal gratitude of the student. And of course I would also like to thank Terry for his energetic and dedicated review of the submissions for 2012, one of our busiest awards to date!’

Bob Kindred MBE, vice-chair of the IHBC’s Education Committee and a trustee of the Gus Astley memorial fund, said: ‘It is heartening, at a challenging time for conservation education, that there are so many committed and talented graduates. This would have given Gus, in whose honour we make the award, great delight and satisfaction.’

Winner of the IHBC Student Award 2012: Aimee Felton, author of ‘Securing a future: Non-Heritage Organisations’ approach to listed building maintenance’, submitted her work to Oxford Brookes University.

Terry Levinthal said of Aimée’s essay: ‘For an academic work, it is especially well structured for practical application, and supported by evidence of good research and lots of source material. I am a cautious about the assumption that only ‘non-heritage organisations’ should be fingered in this debate. The issue is almost an accountacy one – of revenue versus capital – and this paradox is rightly exposed in the legislative short-comings highlighted in the work’.

Jonathan Bassindale, tutor at Oxford Brookes for the winning essay, said: ‘Aimee’s writing is of a very high standard: fluent, articulate and accurate. This was an excellent study which makes a valid contribution to research is this area.’

Aimee Felton said: ‘It has taken the past two years of working at Julian Harrap Architects since writing my thesis to fully appreciate, disseminate and put into practice some of the complexities I stumbled upon whilst researching the maintenance of historic buildings, which even still remains an area much in need of further research. I now view the document as an enrichable theory, prime for development and I enjoy the opportunity to review this with reference to the projects I undertake in the practice.

‘The challenge of everyday practice for conservation architects is continually evolving, and it is only via an intelligent approach to process and thorough, practical research that can we enable historic buildings to act both as cultural assets within the urban fabric and play a fulfilling role within our towns and cities. This challenge, along with many others, is one I hope to be involved in throughout my career.’

‘I am both delighted and honoured to be recognised by the IHBC in memory of Gus Astley for this academic research.’

IHBC Student Award 2012: High Commendations
Terry Levinthal also awarded High Commendations to two essays, one each from the University of Bath and the Architectural Association, London.

He said: ‘The 2 highly commended entries represent excellent typological studies. Although not primary work, these synthesize material in a very competent way. Both subjects are huge, and would merit further study, possibly at doctoral levels’.

IHBC Gus Astley Student Award 2012 Highly Commended: Richard Free submitted his work, ‘The English Model Farm: Agricultural Enlightenment or Social Statement?’ to the University of Bath.

Richard’s tutor at Bath, and course director there, Dr Michael Forsyth, said ‘Richard is an experienced practicing architect whose contributions to our postgraduate Conservation of Historic Buildings programme at Bath were always lively and stimulating. The examiner said that Richard’s study of model farms ‘covers much new material [and is] a serious attempt to study a group of neglected buildings that were once at the centre of our way of life’.

IHBC Gus Astley Student Award 2012 Highly Commended – Lisa McIntyre submitted her paper, ‘Are the Historic Bishop’s Palaces of the Church of England fit for purpose in the 21st Century?’, to the Architectural Association (AA).

Lisa’s tutor at the AA, and course director there, Andrew Shepherd said: ‘I am Delighted for Lisa who is one of the most interesting and delightfully personable students that it has been my pleasure to tutor over the years. I look forward to watching her career blossom.’

IHBC Gus Astley Student Award 2012 Commended – Zana Lloncari submitted her essay, ‘Conservation of Vernacular Architecture in Kosova with reference to Kula as a special typology’, to Oxford Brookes University.

Terry Levinthal formally commended Zana for the work, saying that: ‘As this subject is so important to the sector, it scored especially high.’

Tutor Michelle Thomas, of Oxford Brookes, said: ‘ ‘The dissertation makes an outstanding contribution to thinking concerning the conservation of an important regional building type with significant cultural associations, both past and present, which led to its targeting for destruction in the recent Kosovan conflict.’

‘Zana provides detailed analysis of Kosovan heritage policy, and her dissertation gives those involved in conservation an invaluable overview of the contexts within which decisions concerning the future of Kullat have to be made.’

Background to the Gus Astley Student Award
The IHBC’s Annual Gus Astley Student Award is presented for outstanding work presented as part of a taught course in the UK, and selected by a different judge each year. To highlight the practical focus of the Award, judges are always selected for the pivotal role they play in practical conservation bodies and projects.

In 2012 here were 42 entries to Award, with contestants ranging from undergraduates learning about historic places to later-career architects honing skills in understanding places.

Though the Award open to anyone on a taught course, it is significant that all winners presented material to IHBC recognised courses, as these courses have been tested for compatibility with the international standard for conservation skills provided by ICOMOS.

For background and details of the IHBC Annual Gus Astley Student Award see: gasa.ihbc.org.uk

The 2013 award is open for entry online at: LINK

For testimonials see: LINK

For past winners and linked publications see: LINK

For details on the IHBC’s recognised courses see: LINK

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