Context 164 - May 2020

52 C O N T E X T 1 6 4 : M A Y 2 0 2 0 A souvenir cartoon by a student on a lecture visit (Leuven, Belgium) in 1978 their listed building consent now and the project finished tomorrow. It might just open their eyes to a slower form of conservation and the benefits of a light hand. Kate Judge, architectural historian Friend of old buildings Living Buildings. Architectural Conservation: philosophy, principles and practice Donald Insall, Images Publishing, first published 2008, reprint 2018, 272 pages, 66 black & white and 565 colour illustrations, hardback, ISBN 978 1 864701 92 0, £35 Sir Donald Insall is an internationally renowned pioneer of architectural conservation. The updating and reprinting of Living Buildings in 2018 was a celebration of his 60 years of conservation practice, a few years earlier than the anniversary of the Venice Charter. The reader is conducted through the book by Insall’s voice telling captivating stories about befriending old buildings. After a summary of his professional journey, Insall devotes 20 pages to explaining that buildings are alive, highlighting examples of phases and changes that a building goes through during its lifespan. Then he outlines the methodology of organising the conservation project. The philosophy and principles of conservation are fleshed out by illustrated examples of actual projects. This is a great guide for students and practitioners of architectural conservation. It includes practical tips, such as the rationale for organising the report. ‘For order and consistency, we like to work from the general to the particular, and from fact to opinion. In this way, detail falls within its broader framework, both in historical sequence and in terms of spatial layout.’ The philosophy and principles of conservation are further explained by defining, by means of case studies, 10 degrees of intervention that buildings may be subjected to, emphasising that every building is unique. The first and least intrusive degree is the ‘day-to-day building care’ at the bottom of the ladder, while at the top are ‘new buildings in context’ and ‘conservation in changing historic areas’, with different degrees of intervention in between. An example of the day-to-day building care is the programme of systematic and continuous major repairs, which was developed for Trinity College, Cambridge. Accordingly, work continued in the different buildings and parts of the college without a break since the early 1970s. An example of ‘conservation in a changing historic area’ is the pilot scheme that was developed for the Bridgegate area in the historic city of Chester, including renewal, replacement and integrating new buildings with old ones. Different degrees of intervention are