Regulations and codes A history of building regulations Design codes: do they work? Codes and pattern books Kyiv: a tour of the city No 172 June 2022 Institute of Historic Building Conservation
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Regulations and codes A history of building regulations Design codes: do they work? Codes and pattern books Kyiv: a tour of the city No 172 June 2022 Institute of Historic Building Conservation C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 1 www.ihbc.org.uk @IHBCtweet Registered as a charity in England and Wales number 1061593 and in Scotland number SC041945. Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered in England number 3333780. Registered Office: Jubilee House, High Street, Tisbury, Wiltshire SP3 6HA Officers President Mike Brown, email@example.com Chair David McDonald, firstname.lastname@example.org Vice Chair Lone Le Vay, email@example.com Secretary Jo Evans, firstname.lastname@example.org Treasurer Jill Kerry, email@example.com National Office Director Seán O’Reilly, firstname.lastname@example.org Operations Director Fiona Newton, email@example.com Consultations Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org Membership Services Officer Carmen Moran, email@example.com Professional Services Officer Michael Netter, firstname.lastname@example.org Administration Officer Lydia Porter, email@example.com Committee Chairs Policy Roy Lewis, firstname.lastname@example.org Membership & Ethics Andrew Shepherd, email@example.com Education ChrisWood, firstname.lastname@example.org Communications & Outreach Dave Chetwyn, email@example.com Branch Contacts North firstname.lastname@example.org NorthWest email@example.com Yorkshire firstname.lastname@example.org West Midlands email@example.com East Midlands firstname.lastname@example.org South email@example.com SouthWest firstname.lastname@example.org East Anglia email@example.com South East firstname.lastname@example.org London email@example.com Scotland firstname.lastname@example.org Wales email@example.com Northern Ireland firstname.lastname@example.org Republic of Ireland email@example.com Rest of theWorld firstname.lastname@example.org Cover: A pair of semidetached council houses illustrated in the UK’s Housing Manual of 1919, and extracts from current building regulation approved documents 2 Briefing 5 Out of Context 6 Letter 6 The writer’s voice 7 Periodically 13 Editorial 14 A brief history of building regulations and control Robert Huxford 21 Patterns of influence Liz Mayle 24 Design codes: intentions and reality Roy Lewis 27 Planning reform in England Dave Chetwyn 30 New building regulations Tony Gwynne 37 Kyiv: a tour of the city Louise Priestman 42 The history of a simple church Anthea Jones 45 Moulds in historic buildings Jagjit Singh 47 Professional standards and the IHBC 49 Notes from the chair 50 Director’s cut 52 Vox pop 54 New members 55 New member profile 56 Book reviews 60 Inter alia 61 Products and services 64 Specialist suppliers index
Editor Rob Cowan Editorial Coordinator Michael Taylor, email@example.com Editorial Board Tom Copp Nigel Crowe Peter de Figueiredo (book reviews) Rebecca Madgin Andrew McClelland Fiona Newton Louise Priestman Gordon Sorensen Jonathan Taylor Michael Taylor (chair) Cartoons by Rob Cowan Context is distributed to all members of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. © Institute of Historic Building Conservation 2022 ISSN 0958-2746 Publisher Cathedral Communications Limited, High Street, Tisbury,Wiltshire, England SP3 6HA 01747 871717 firstname.lastname@example.org www.buildingconservation.com Non-member subscriptions to Context Context is available to corporate bodies at an annual subscription rate, including postage, of: United Kingdom £60.00 Elsewhere £90.00 Context on-line archive Past issues of Context can be viewed on the IHBC website. The archive provides a searchable database and reference for key articles. See www.ihbc.org.uk/page55/ context_archive. The views expressed in Context are not necessarily held by the IHBC or the publisher. Neither the publisher nor the IHBC shall be under any liability whatsoever in respect of contributed articles. We gratefully acknowledge the support of firms whose advertisements appear throughout this publication.While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this issue of Context is current and correct, neither the IHBC nor the publisher can be held responsible for any errors or omissions which may occur. Context themes and copy deadlines Context is published four times a year in March, June, September and December. The next three themes and copy deadlines are: Diversity, September, issue 173 (8 July) The IHBC at 25, December, issue 174 (7 October) East Anglian coast, March, issue 175 (13 January) Please contact Michael Taylor at email@example.com to discuss any editorial submissions or for information about the Context editorial board. 2 C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 Briefing Smithfield restoration Julian Harrap Architects (JHA) has led the three-year restoration and conservation of the ‘outer crust’ to West Smithfield General Market (1881–83) building, originally the London Metropolitan fruit and vegetable market, ahead of its conversion to the Museum of London. The latest works have involved the repair of external and internal brickwork and Portland stone, reinstatement of lost carved elements, and repairs to the timber roofs, floors and windows. JHA retrieved Sir Horace Jones’s early competition schemes and original specification for the buildings, which listed the materials and quantities used, and special techniques that Jones specified. ‘We wanted to show the building’s marks of time by adjusting the levels of cleaning to the outer crust,’ says Georgia Politi, an associate at JHA. ‘The staining was removed but the patina was preserved, which exposed important features of the building’s past, such as a Victorian, hand-painted advertisement on Farringdon Street.’ The practice employed secondhand materials where possible. The huge existing roof slates were largely re-used, combined with second-hand and new, handmade bricks, and new and salvaged lead. For the timber repairs to the windows, floors and roofs, salvaged 19th-century Baltic pine was used from the dilapidated parts of the building, after it had been catalogued and numbered. ‘We enjoyed studying the original carvings, which represented fruit and vegetable motifs,’ says Politi. ‘By working closely with the stone carvers, we used these as inspiration for new designs when doing the repairs. The selection of the window colour was debated at length before agreeing on a dark stone colour.’ The left-hand section of West Smithfield General Market’s facade has been restored. The rest will be part of the next phase. (Photo: Craig Matthews)
C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 3 War: a call for papers Against the background of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the threats to that country’s heritage, the journal Historic Environment Policy and Practice is planning a volume with the theme of war. Context readers are invited to contact the editor, michael. firstname.lastname@example.org, with ideas or proposals in areas such as the deployment of history and archaeology in the pursuit of war, the implementation of conservation policy in the face of military aggression, and the destruction of symbolic and historic assets in an attempt to erase the past. Climate change update John Preston writes: This update complements, and if possible should be read with, my article in the 2022 IHBCYearbook. That was submitted before chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement, which was followed by the British Energy A refurbishment programme of the Grade II*-listed facades of the Harrods’ building in London has completed its first stage. Make Architects has worked with a team of specialist contractors and craftspeople to reinstate and restore the original architecture, particularly on the entrances, windows and awnings. (Photo: Make Architects) Mechnikova Street, Lviv (Photo: Wikimedia)
4 C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 Security Strategy. The Spring Statement cut VAT to zero on solar, insulation and heat pumps, but not on repairs, which are the essential precursor to retrofit. The Energy Security Strategy focuses on energy supply, with nuclear featuring strongly and controversially. More immediately for Context readers, it mentions ‘Reviewing the practical planning barriers that households can face when installing energy efficiency measures such as improved glazing, including in conservation areas and listed buildings. This will be completed by the end of 2022 and ensure protection of local amenity and heritage, while making it easier to improve energy efficiency’. The strategy claims that ‘On aesthetics, upgrades can retain and enhance a building’s character with measures being easy to install and beautiful in design’ (whatever that means). To facilitate solar power, the strategy will ‘bring down bills and increase jobs by radically simplifying planning processes with a consultation on relevant permitted development rights and will consider the best way to make use of public sector rooftops’. Heat pumps and heat networks are promoted, with no recognition that heat pumps may not be suitable for all properties. Government and industry are essentially promoting products, not a holistic low-carbon approach – see the STBA’s (Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance) From Retrofit to Regeneration. Informed owners will be vital, but as the National Trust (an informed owner if ever there was one) has found, what can they do if the enforcement officers applying the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards do not listen to advice East Farleigh bridge across the River Medway in Kent, dating from the early 14th century (Photo: Stacey Harris, Wikimedia) Retaining and enhancing character is difficult with solar panels disrupting an existing roof. This is about as good as it can get: the White House, Cambridge, 19th century, slate roof, no dormers, no irregularities, orientation excellent, almost the whole roof covered. (Photo: John Preston) from conservation officers? The Energy Security Strategy claims that ‘Research suggests the government is the trusted source of advice so we will work with trusted voices to scale up our information offer to help households understand energy saving measures. By summer we will launch a comprehensive Energy Advice Service on gov.uk, which will help consumers navigate what can be unknown territory to improve the energy performance of their homes’. Will this include anything relating to traditional buildings, or make the existing very costly guidance and standards (PAS 2035, BS 7913, etc) freely available? John Preston is heritage chair of the STBA. Historic stone bridges Tom Robinson has carried out a project to investigate historic stone bridges of the British Isles, a significant part of whose structure was built before 1700. It updates a survey carried out by Edwin Jervoise almost 100 years ago. The aims, methodology and findings, including photographs of each bridge, are at https:// historicbridgesofbritain.com.
C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 5 ‘A COWARDLY and wasteful decision has been announced to demolish Cumbernauld Town Centre in its entirety. It has had a hard life, but it’s enormously important as an urban experiment. Retrofitting imaginatively and well is the right thing for carbon and heritage.’ Barnabus Calder on Twitter @barnabuscalder ‘CUMBERNAULD town centre. The building breathes awkwardness from every pore, so recalcitrant that adaptation seems futile. ‘At the very least, though, thoughtfulness and evidence are called for. In which case, it would help if cases like this were removed from the conflict zones of the culture wars. Fans of brutalism should for their part refrain from accusations of outrage when local authorities propose what looks to most like common sense. ‘When almost everyone in Cumbernauld tells them that they want the old town centre gone, they should pay attention. To do otherwise is a gift to the Nadine Dorrieses of this world.’ Rowan Moore in the Observer ‘HARDLINE modern architecture is now something of a cult. There is a mini-industry of modern architecture tat – go into the shops of the Barbican or Southbank Centre in London, the Baltic in Gateshead, the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry or the Modernist Society’s specialist corner shop in Manchester, and you can buy an armful of tea towels, badges and mugs with British modernist buildings on them, as you could with Victorian buildings at their moment of rediscovery in the 1970s and 80s. ‘No doubt brutalism will eventually have its own Beamishstyle “living museum”, too – the 1974 Camden town hall annexe opposite St Pancras was recently restored as a hotel that looks far more “70s” than the original building ever did. ‘But there’s more here than just fashion: this rediscovery is also the result of a melancholic ‘RUSSIA is a signatory of the Unesco 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, that sets out legal obligations to protect culture and heritage in the event of armed conflict. This international agreement must be upheld. ‘Russia is only too aware of the great losses incurred to its own historic palaces and churches during fighting in the second world war.We urge Russia to halt the shelling of Ukrainian cities, and to end the inevitable loss of human life and architectural heritage that it is incurring.’ From an open letter from the Georgian Group to the minister of culture of the Russian Federation ‘AT A TIME of climate emergency, using natural, sustainable materials rather than manufactured and processed products is a base principle which should be upheld. ‘The Duchy appreciates that specific uPVC products can now demonstrate stronger environmental credentials than their forebears, but it remains a material with significant embodied carbon. ‘On this basis, the original specification of timber remains as justifiable today as it did 30 years ago, accepting that the manufacture and maintenance of timber windows naturally involves an element of carbon debt.’ A spokesperson for the Duchy of Cornwall quoted in the Mailonline, responding to 200 residents of Poundbury who want to be allowed to replace their rotting window frames with uPVC ones, which are forbidden under the town’s code. sense of lost civic purpose. In Birmingham, you can buy all kinds of merch featuring John Madin’s monumental brutalist library, but the building itself has been replaced with bland, private glass office blocks.’ Owen Hatherley in the Guardian ‘THE CHANNEL 4 headquarters counts as one of Richard Rogers most significant public commissions in the UK, one that absolutely should be listed. It was purpose built for the broadcaster and reflects the values of a publicly owned institution. ‘While the building itself could doubtless suit other occupants, it would be sad to see a landmark building stripped of its purpose and threatened with a quick sale.’ Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft on the C20 website
6 C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 Letter Good design From Bob Kindred MBE May I be the 94th person to express my astonishment at the planning inspector’s opinion (‘Out of Context’, Context 171, March 2022) that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and ‘any further discussion is unlikely to be helpful’? Clearly the current imperative for good design has passed the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) by, notwithstanding the work of, for example, the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission; and the fact that the amended NPPF has strengthened the requirement to deliver well-designed places that are beautiful, enduring and successful by setting out the essential characteristics of what good design means in practice. Clear principles of good design in historic places were set out as long ago as 1994 in paragraph 2.14 of PPG 15. Perhaps someone in PINS should read it, together with the wealth of recent advice on beauty and good design, and train its inspectors better? Bob Kindred FromThe Infinity of Geometric Design Exemplified by Robert William Billings (1849) Architecture is the solitary branch of the great tree of knowledge which is not only not allowed to grow, but which is systematically kept stunted; for it cannot be denied that architectural design… reached its limits of excellence long, long ago; and the result is, that professed architects, whose practice and prosperity too frequently depend on the worldly influence of such associations, are literally not permitted to design for themselves at all. They are chained down to copy from existing authorities; and, no matter whether these types be good or not, antiquity is the sufficient guarantee for imitation. While architects, as a body, continue to bend before these self-constituted tribunals, there is no hope for the progression of their art; for, according to them, the man who can patch together, in one jumble, the largest number of old parts into a new building, is the greatest architect, the most finished artist. In other words, it is only saying that the greatest copyist has the highest and most original talent—a reductio ad absurdum certainly; or, to use the language of analogy, that the man who borrows his light from an old lamp ought to shine brighter in the temple of fame than the genius who illumines the temple by the radiance of his own creations. It is an attempt to make imitation triumph over original conception, such as no profession, save architecture, has ever for a moment submitted to; and it is time, surely, that the architect and the mere builder should cease to be synonymous. We look and, until very recently, look in vain, among the enormous bulk of books published on medieval architecture during the last half century, for anything resembling an elucidation of principles. We have representations of buildings beautifully rendered, it is true, but they are without precepts; we have the body, minus the soul of science. And why? The modern artists who executed these works were merely the tools of book-makers, and not interested in the matter, farther than in being remunerated for their employment. The results of practice alone, or, in other words, of accomplished design, were thus given to the public; but the theoretical principles which regulated or originated that practice were utterly overlooked; for no sooner, probably, was the building delineated, than the principles which had guided the artist in his development were carelessly thrown aside, and for ever lost to the world of art. Augustus Pugin,… the great reviver of Gothic architecture in Britain, stands out as an honourable exception to this showy, anti-theory school; for his works not only contain much of principles, but it is evident that he and his pupils not only knew, but aimed at, and gave out more than the world was prepared to appreciate.
C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 7 Periodically Regular readers of this column will recall my advocacy of the annual transactions or journals of the national amenity bodies, and the added value this gives to membership. It seems unlikely that readers will be members of all these organisations, but the content provides valuable CPD even when it may not always inform day-to-day professional practice. It may also be an incentive for uncommitted readers to subscribe. Transactions of ASCHB One such is the Transactions of ASCHB, the Association for Studies in the Conservation of Historic Buildings (Vol 44, 2022). Published since 1973, the particular value of these transactions is the British case studies, as they often highlight important or overlooked buildings, their background history and the problems associated with their management. The successful repair solutions offered provide invaluable technical insights. In this volume Lee Prosser gives an account of a masterpiece of the English baroque, the Orangery at Kensington Palace, one of the few architectural commissions by Queen Anne and holding an important position in architectural history. Authorship has been attributed variously to Sir Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir John Vanbrugh, without this ever having been resolved satisfactorily. In the late 19th century the building helped inspire the Queen Anne revival. After decades of use as a potting shed, it was restored in 1898 and given a new, Dutch-inspired garden in 1907; but for many years thereafter it formed little more than the shelter from the rain. For much of the 20th century the Orangery was a building with little useful purpose. It has recently been the subject of a regeneration project combining repair and selective cleaning. The article illustrates the very high quality of the brickwork and polychromy, and the painstaking approach needed to conserve much of the painted decoration, including carvings by Grinling Gibbons, careful paint analysis and cleaning. An article by Erin Davidson discusses the current state of the somewhat contentious proposals for the Grade I listed Norwich Castle (which is also sited on a scheduled ancient monument) to generate a ‘world-class visitor experience’. The article is particularly noteworthy for explaining how the design aspirations by Feilden and Mawson have been tested against on-site investigation of the fabric, leading to amendment of the approvals originally granted. At the other end of the scale, an article by Sherry Bates assesses a building in Barnett High Street where an early timber frame was discovered behind an unprepossessing facade and modern partitioning. The building had been listed Grade II in 1983 and perfunctorily misdescribed. Bates explains in detail the required reassessment and how this impacted the detailed conservation proposals. The approach to this project is well described, with exemplary illustrations. It is a textbook case as such seemingly humble buildings are quite often encountered but their heritage significance is often initially under-appreciated (some such are not necessarily even listed). The outcome can be very beneficial when they are assessed properly. Following on from the Notre Dame fire, Steve Emery, fire officer for Oxford University, looks at the impact of fire on limestone. He describes an ongoing project to understand what effect heat has on the compressive strength of limestone and what this means in particular for the structural stability of English cathedrals if fire should occur, and identifies lessons for fire-fighting tactics. This is work in progress and the outcomes of fire testing are eagerly awaiting. Further work on the different structures of the roof timbers and how the spread of fire will progress has followed to inform how roofs will eventually collapse, and what effect this will have on the heated vaults below if left to burn. Comparisons can then be made on the various precautions that have aschb transactions volume 44: 2022 ASSOCIATION FOR STUDIES INTHE CONSERVATION OF HISTORIC BUILDINGS
8 C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 been adopted around the country and whether they are appropriate for the particular circumstances. With much continuing discussion about heritage significance and values-based practice, Kate Clark reprises some of the work that has been done since the 1990s (and in particular since Power of Place) on the development of heritage values and a continuous thread of reports regarding the values-based approach to managing change. Clark warns about what she sees as a recent, worrying move away from the more open and inclusive approaches to articulating value towards more closed approaches, based on discrete classifications of significance, determined by experts and fixed at the point of designation. She reminds us of the need to look for the hidden stories that are not being told, and to challenge received wisdom about the past rather than blindly checking boxes marked ‘significance’. This paper is particularly important and timely, reminding us of the need to question critically the values that shape our own practice. Retrospection can often be useful in practice as well as process. Peter Rawlings sets out a case study on the use of earthen mortar when repairing a Grade II* dovecote at Barholm Old Hall in Lincolnshire. The south wall was repaired in the summer of 2016 as part of a comprehensive renovation of this building at risk. Earthen mortars were not used much in the UK after the 19th century, but they were successfully applied here. The article invaluably documents the context, assessment, trials and implementation, with a focus on how the earthen mortar was considered to have been successful some years after it was used. Association of Preservation Technology Bulletin The latest issue of the Association of Preservation Technology Bulletin (Vol LII, No 4, 2021) is another thematic one, focusing on wood as a building material. Articles cover wood-conserving projects at a wide range of locations and scales. Suzana Radivojevic and Chad Randl kick off the edition with a discussion of the importance of plywood in 20th century architecture and housing, and the need for heritage professionals to develop strategies for assessment and conservation. Plywood structural assemblies, finishes and decorative elements are increasingly being considered for their historic significance on national and international heritage lists. It is imperative that heritage professionals develop appropriate evaluation strategies and conservation treatments for historic plywood panels. Specifying appropriate like-for-like contemporary replacement panels, especially for plywood fabricated prior to the 1960s, can be difficult because of changes in production and performance standards. The authors give a helpful history of plywood and its particular properties, and describe a method of assessing the condition of exterior panels, based on three case studies commissioned between 2017 and 2021. The authors conclude that plywood remains in an early phase of study, documentation and research. The importance of material analysis in architectural conservation is well established, but the analytical methods and protocols for investigating historic plywood are lacking, and clear guidelines for the identification, evaluation and treatment of historic plywood panels are yet to be established. In a second paper, RonaldW Anthony and Brian D Aschim explain the functions of openweb wood trusses and how they behave under unanticipated loading conditions. These structural framing systems were often used to support the roofs in large buildings that may now start to be considered for statutory protection. The authors explain the factors affecting truss and design factors in loading conditions that can also affect this. They point to the importance of the hardware that connects the trusses together, before setting out five considerations necessary for the assessment of open-web trusses if failures are to be avoided. Considerations for the use of purified linseed oil on historic wood are considered by Erin Gibbs and Katherine Wonson. Their paper, geared towards professionals unfamiliar with the treatment, sets out the advantages and disadvantages of using this fluid. The authors set out the qualities of linseed oil versus the characteristics of modern coatings and linseed oil paints, and the experience gained since 2012. They conclude that purified linseed oil systems are a promising preservative treatment and a viable option for use on historic wood resources. But they are not a preservation panacea, and when selecting linseed oil paint users must understand what they need and what they are buying. Good specifications are the key to acquiring and applying the optimal product for any given project. Although wood shingle roofs are uncommon in the UK (referenced in just over 500 listings in England, they are sometimes found on church steeples, for example) they are widely encountered in America but vulnerable and particularly threatened by incidences of wild fires. The paper from Samuel Zabb-Parmley may have some interest to those who may need to consider fire risk, damage and protection (if not wild fires).
C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 9 Heritage Now In Context 170 (December 2021), we referred to Historic Buildings and Places, the new working name of the Ancient Monuments Society, and its new magazine Heritage Now. The second issue (Spring 2022) has now been issued, with the theme of facing the challenges of maintaining and regenerating historic buildings. The director, Lucie Carayon, picks up on the feedback from its member survey and explains the unique selling point of Historic Buildings and Places. Peter Howell, the author of a new monograph on triumphal arches, explains that, although these monuments were usually freestanding, it might be thought that they would be left untouched. He illustrates and explains that this has not always been the case. Elsewhere, James Grundy MP, chair of the House of Commons’ Conservation, Places and People All-Party Parliamentary Group (an APPAG ably supported by the IHBC) gives his personal take on how heritage transcends stately homes and other highend properties. Alastair DickCleland, the Landmark Trust’s conservation manager, outlines the origins of the trust in 1965 and its ethos, expanding its excellent work of repurposing difficult buildings often at risk. In a varied issue, Roger Wools sets out the campaigning concerns of Historic Buildings and Places about the c1774 Grade I listed Bootham Park Hospital by John Carr of York. The building inYork has been vacant since closure by the NHS in 2015 and in need of more sympathetic proposals. Elsewhere in the magazine, the comment column questions whether the initial enthusiasm for the widespread applicability of heritage partnership agreements was a false dawn. The Victorian In TheVictorian (No 69, March 2022), theatres are placed in the VicSoc’s spotlight. This is a useful complement to the remit and work of the Theatres Trust and a reminder, if any were needed, of the complementary and mutually supportive roles of the national amenity organisations. To that end, Mark Price of the Theatres Trust explains its fight to preserve Victorian and Edwardian theatres across the UK. Griff Rhys Jones, the Victorian Society’s president, shares his instinctive love of the great Victorian theatres and his memories of being involved in the campaign to rescue the Hackney Empire, one of the longest conservation campaigns of modern times. In northern Ireland James Grieve of Consarc Design Group describes the major restoration of Belfast‘s Grand Opera House, one of the most important surviving works Frank Matcham. Elsewhere, Jon Newman considers how John Ruskin’s life in south London (Herne Hill, then Denmark Hill) shaped his attitudes and ideas, as set out – with Laurence Marsh – in their book Sunset over Herne Hill: John Ruskin and south London. They expound on the significance of place as a critical aspect of Ruskin that has previously been relegated to the status of local historical footnote, and argue that his south London life impinged on, influenced and finally came to embody many of the larger preoccupations of his writing. The Construction Historian In The Construction Historian (Issue 9, March 2022) Michael Heaton offers a short article entitled ‘Another Fine Mess…’, looking at mistakes (or mistaken understanding) in construction. Heaton observes that engineering history, especially that of vernacular structural carpentry, assumes that craftsmen builders had an innate understanding of the capacity of materials and structures to withstand and transfer the forces created by and operating on the structures they built. As we rarely find, or report, evidence of failures, we assume that structural forms were developed and improved in response to the changing demands of society in careful empirical stages. In the case of roof trusses for duo-pitched roofs, the many forms developed in Europe during the last c2,000 years all perform the same two functions in slightly different ways: restraining the outward thrust of the pitches under load while, if possible, creating a usable space within the roof (the interrupted tiebeam roof truss is a good example of this). A common truss form in small 19th-century British stables is needed for a usable space in the low-pitched roof for storing feed or staff accommodation. A rigid structural triangle has to resist outward thrust of the loaded principal rafters without needing the full span of the tiebeam that would ordinarily render the roof space difficult to use.
10 C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 In the case Heaton observed, the carpentry had allowed the roof to spread outwards, threatening the imminent collapse of the building. This demonstrates that, contrary to received engineering history, the designer (or carpenter) of this early-19th-century roof truss did not understand statics. Although assumed to be experienced and competent, they were copying a structural detail they had seen elsewhere, possibly in a book, (that is, fashion) without understanding how it worked, which suggests also not knowing how the traditional forms actually worked. Also of note is an article by Edwin AR Trout about the Orchestrelle Factory, Benlow Works, in Hayes, Middlesex, a Grade II listed building at risk. The name was closely associated with the fashion of the day for mechanised music (the pianola), and was both the name of a musical instrument and its manufacturer. The four-storey building was designed in 1909 for the Aeolian Organ and Music Company by Walter Cave, with distinctive fullheight Diocletian windows. It was constructed in a material new at the time, Stuart’s Granolithic Stone, a form of reinforced concrete. A possible reuse is being explored, but the future of this significant building, described at the time of its construction as ‘one of the most important undertakings in reinforced concrete construction erected in this country… A noteworthy example of the practical use of reinforced concrete for factory construction’ is not yet secured. SPAB Magazine The SPAB Magazine (Spring 2022) is devoted principally to celebrating the fifth anniversary of SPAB Ireland, with articles on the initiatives of Dublin’s department of housing, local government and heritage on climate action; the SPAB Ireland campaign in support of vernacular architecture, with awareness-raising and championing better standards of conservation (including articles by Barry O’Reilly on the surviving folk tradition, and Sinéad Scullion on the mud and thatch revival); and a short history by outgoing SPAB Ireland chair Tríona Byrne of the history of, and legislation for, heritage protection, and the groups supporting it. Construction History Construction History (Vol 36, No 2, 2021) presents its usual international outlook. Two papers may be of particular interest.We tend to think of the conservation of buildings as completed without necessarily thinking about how they were originally assembled. A paper by Stefan M Holzer examines the role of the temporary works needed for medieval construction through to the early industrial period, with particular reference to methods of scaffolding, the use of cranes, and the materials and structures that were in operation on these early sites. Holzer highlights the close interdependencies between scaffolding, lifting machines and material types on the historic construction site.When in the middle ages cranes played a subordinate role, most of the transport of building materials had to be by carriers, who required convenient sound and stable scaffolding (mostly pole scaffolding) to serve the masons just in time. The progress in lifting machinery, notably from the late 14th century onwards, alleviated the pressure on scaffolds, and may have permitted the use of lighter or more basic scaffolding, while big ashlar blocks were assembled directly from the cranes. The development of robust rotative cranes spurred this development, and the rediscovery of the Vitruvian gin pole had the same effect. The second paper, by Keith Parry, deals with the repair and maintenance of the wooden bridge over the Thames at Marlow between 1620 and 1820. The bridge was set on a series of wooden piles grouped in ranges, linked together by wooden joints. It was typical of many bridges spanning the Thames between Reading and London. Rents from the Bridge Estate funded the repairs and two bridgemasters recorded their income and expenditure over two centuries. This permits analysis of records that show that the cycles of bridge closure of repair and replacement by a ferry averaged 11 years. Also of note in this issue are articles about the construction of the city wall at Pompeii; brickmaking production in medieval Novgorod; a history of early reinforced concrete in modern Shanghai (1890–1914); and the spreading regional development of the railway system in São Paulo, Brazil. Bob Kindred MBE
C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 11 Independent Heritage and Planning Specialists We work on a wide spectrum of projects across all building sectors from residen�al and commercial to educa�on and ecclesias�cal. 07507734030 email@example.com www.brighterplanning.co.uk STEICO Wood Fibre Insulation Now available from High performance environmentally friendly building products from renewable sources MIKE WYE www.mikewye.co.uk 01409281644 firstname.lastname@example.org Cintec provides not only solutions for terracotta repairs but solutions for all major structural defects in masonry. Keyhole surgery for buildings provided by over 30 years’ experience and expertise in the structural stabilisation, repair and conservation of the nation’s historically important buildings and structures. Working worldwide with heritage authorities, conservation architects and engineers to preserve the past for the future. UK : 11 Gold Tops, Newport NP20 4PH tel 01633 246614 fax 01633 246110 email email@example.com www.cintec.com
C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 13 REGULAT IONS AND CODES Opposite: The Rebuilding of London Act 1666 legislated for ‘the speedy Restoration whereof, and for the better Regulation, Uniformity and Gracefulness of such new Buildings as shall be erected for Habitations.’ (See page 14) Editorial Winners and losers At the time of writing, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is examining the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the fire on the night of 14 June 2017. The inquiry’s examination of witnesses has revealed, among other things, an extraordinary catalogue of fatal decisions being taken about building regulations and their application. Politicians had insisted on deregulation without, seemingly, being concerned about the consequences. The building industry responded by seeking to maximise profits, and a range of professionals took the opportunity to cut corners, without being concerned about the consequences. The consequence of their dereliction of duty and responsibility was the loss of 72 lives. Awareness that regulations are needed often follows disaster or crisis. There is a balance to be achieved. Regulating matters that do not need to be regulated is an unjustified infringement of freedoms. Neglecting to regulate what needs to be regulated risks lives, the quality of lives, or the planet. Reducing the process of finding that balance to simple slogans is irresponsible. Decisions about what regulations are needed are always a matter of balancing conflicting interests. Leading up to the Grenfell fire, regulations had been created and applied inways that made money for some people, allowed others an easy life and caused others to die. Most such decisions are in some way political; costs and benefits need be weighed up by responsible people in the light of the necessary knowledge. This issue of Context focuses on how regulations and codes have shaped and are shaping the historic environment. The questions are always: what is important to regulate and control? Howwill the process be managed?Who will be the winners and losers? It is not just a matter of balancing private and public interests. Several competing public interests often need to be resolved: between the appearance of a historic building and its energy performance, for example. Successful solutions are always possible, but care and commitment are needed if they are to be found. The current UK government is in favour of both deregulation and regulation in the built environment. How is that possible? The answer may be that regulating through such means as design codes, pattern books and street votes will allow regulation in some local areas at the same time as allowing deregulation more generally – by relaxing local-authority-wide planning control, for example. Pilot schemes are currently testing some of these approaches, and other pilots will no doubt follow.Theywill probably conclude that innovative approaches to regulations and codes can work well if they are managed with the right democratic processes and the necessary skills. But there is no general commitment to enhancing local democracy; adequate resources are lacking (and are likely to be in the foreseeable future); and the necessary skills barely exist. So, there will be no breakthrough. The world of regulations and codes will remain a fascinating, potential nightmare.
14 C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 ROBERT HUXFORD A brief history of building regulations and control The story of building regulation and control is one of belated action in response to crisis, and of continuing tension between the protection of the public and private profit. Structural soundness, the prevention of fires and the promotion of public health are the main and long-standing objectives of ‘building control’. In the code of Hammurabi, one of the world’s earliest legal codes (dating to Babylon around 3,000 years ago), Edict 229 provides that ‘If a builder build a house for a man and do not make its construction firm, and the house which he has built collapse and cause the death of the owner of the house, that builder shall be put to death’. One could call that a sort of ‘performance specification’; that is, houses shall be built in such a manner that they do not fall down, as opposed to an ‘input specification’ setting the exact requirements for the method, materials and dimensions.The other distinction to make is between building regulations (the law relating to buildings) and building control (the administration and implementation of that law). Building regulation and control are tied to the development of central and local government, and of the representation of the people. It is often the poorest and least powerful in society who stand to gain the most from a system of building control, and are most likely to be the victims of poor and uncontrolled building. At Nos 55 and 54 Britton Street (formerly Red Lion Street) are terraced houses, built 1720–24. On the right (No 54) the ground and first floors reflect the Rebuilding of London Act 1666. On the left (No 55) the facade, renewed in 1810, reflects the London Building Act 1774: window frames and door frames to be set in reveals, and recessed by at least four inches from the front of the building. Party walls are carried above the roof.
C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 15 REGULATIONS AND CODES the time of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, where Manchester workers were protesting against a lack of political representation, barely one in 10 males could vote at national elections. The Reform Act 1832 had extended the vote to small landowners, shopkeepers and householders who paid more than £10 per year. But when, for example, the Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain was published in 1842, the labouring population of Great Britain had no vote and no political power. The governance of towns evolved from medieval boroughs, corporations and aldermen, to the municipal corporations of the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 (with the members elected by ratepayers), through to the Local Government Act 1894, which created a two-tier system of counties, and urban and rural district councils. For a large part of this period the promotion of the interests of the poor depended on the magnanimity of the wealthy. Turning to building regulation and control, London led the way. There were serious fires in the City of London in 1133 and in Southwark in 1212, and other smaller fires. Fire could mean impoverishment or worse. Below are extracts relating to buildings from the City of London Wardmote regulations in the Liber Albus, a compilation of laws and civic regulations of London from as early as 1067 but principally of the 13th and 14th centuries, here translated by Henry Thomas Riley: Item, that no chimney be from henceforth made, except of stone, tiles, or plaster, and not of timber, under pain of being pulled down. Item, that no house within the liberties be otherwise covered than with lead, tile, or stone; and if any such there be, that the same be forth with rased [sic] by the constables and scavagers, they taking for their trouble fourpence. Item, if any purprestures (encroachments) are made in the streets or lanes, or upon the walls or fosses of the City, or upon the Thames, or other the common soil within theWard. That the Penthouses and Jetties of Houses shall be so high that folks on horseback may ride beneath them. And they shall be of the hight of nine feet, at the very least. Scavagers were employed to watch for transgressions. Their duties are outlined in an oath: You shall swear, that you shall diligently oversee that the pavements within your Ward are well and rightly repaired, and not made too high in nuisance of the neighbours; and that the ways, streets, and lanes are cleansed of dung and of all manner of filth, for the decency of the City; and that the chimneys, furnaces, [and] reredoses, are of stone, and sufficiently defended against peril of fire; and if you find anything to the contrary, you shall shew unto the Alderman, that so the Alderman may ordain for the amendment thereof. And this you shall not fail to do, So God you help, and the Saints. A picture emerges of medieval London with a set of regulations and a means of control, part of a system for the safe and efficient operation of the city. Other towns and cities in England were affected by large fires, but local systems of building control are thought to have been patchy. The arrival of the Black Death in 1348, and its continuing presence, dramatically reduced the size of the population. Two hundred and fifty years were to pass before new town building recommenced. So let us resume the story in 1666. Rebuilding of London Act 1666 Produced in response to the Great Fire of London of 1666, the act (passed in 1667) states that it is for ‘the speedy Restoration whereof, and for the better Regulation, Uniformity and Gracefulness of such new Buildings as shall be erected for Habitations in order thereunto; and to the End that great and outrageous Fires (through the blessing of Almighty God) so far forth as human Providence (with submission to the Divine Pleasure) can foresee, may be reasonably prevented or obviated for theTime to come, both by the Matter and Form of such building.’ The act required ‘That all the Outsides of all Buildings in and about the said City be henceforth made of Brick or Stone, or of Brick and Stone together except door cases and window frames’. It created a design code, specifying that ‘there shall be only four sorts of building and no more’. As an example of the requirements, ‘the first and least Sort of Building, fronting By streets or Lanes as aforesaid, shall be of two Stories high, besides Cellars and Garrets; That the Cellars thereof be six Foot and a Half high, if the springs of water hinder not; that the first Story be nine Foot high from the Floor to the Ceiling, and the second Story nine Foot high from the Floor to the Ceiling; that all Walls in Front and Rear, as high as the first Story, be of the full Thickness of the Length of two Bricks, and thence upwards to the Garrets of the thickness of one Brick and an Half etc’. The act set out structural requirements for wall thickness in relation to building height, and dimensions of beams and bressummers (or ‘Brest Summers’) in relation to length. The act provided for the election of surveyors by the mayor and company to ‘prevent irregular Buildings’. A further act (Rebuilding of London Act 1670) added a requirement for gutters and downpipes. ‘And bee it enacted That the Water from the tops of all Houses already built since the late Fire, and hereafter to be built and fronting or that shall front upon any the Streets, Lanes or Passages within the said City and
16 C O N T E X T 1 7 2 : J U N E 2 0 2 2 Libertyes shall bee carryed and conveyed into the Channells by Pipes and Partie pipes (as the case shall require) to be brought downe on the Sides or Fronts of the said Houses.’ Foundations had to be inspected by a surveyor. The 1770s The system of 1666 persisted with varying degrees of observance and enforcement until the London Building Acts of 1772 and, most significantly, 1774: ‘An act or for the further and better regulation of buildings and party- walls and for the more effectually preventing mischief by fire within the cities of London and Westminster (etc)…’.This act replaced the ‘four sorts of buildings’ detailed in the 1666 act with seven classes or rates of buildings, with requirements prescribed for each class. For example, the definition of a first-rate building included dwelling houses which exceeded 900 sq ft on the ground floor, but the class also included other buildings such as churches, chapels and meeting houses, and buildings for the distilling of liquor, or the making of soap or turpentine, which exceeded three clear storeys above the ground or 31 ft. Walls, roofs and external decorations were to be of non-combustible materials, and window-frames and doorframes were to be set in reveals, and recessed by at least four inches from the front of the building. The act set requirements for the thickness of walls and party walls and their foundations which were related to the rate of the building. Party walls were required to be carried at least 18 inches above the roof. There are many sections in the act covering party walls, their removal and their replacement, with the aim of compartmentalising fire and preventing its spread. There was a statutory role for surveyors in inspecting new buildings, and an oath for them to swear. In the 19th century this system was criticised for promoting uniformity or monotony, although anyone who takes to the trouble to read the act itself will realise that it does nothing of the sort. The 19th century By the 1840s the threat of fire had been eclipsed by epidemic disease.The average life expectancy of children born into labouring class families in industrial towns was below 20 years. The causes were thought to be overcrowding, damp and bad air, and the remedies were thought to be light, drainage and ventilation. Numerous reports were published and campaigns organised, but action was painfully slow. The provisions of the Town Improvement ClausesAct 1847 applied to England and Ireland. They included: Commissioners to appoint a surveyor and an inspector of nuisances. Notice of buildings and rebuildings to be given to the commissioners. A map of the district to be created. Powers created to set drainage rates. Sewers to be created and all new houses to be connected to drains. Doors and gates which open on to the street to be made to open inwards. Party walls to be carried up through the roof. The Local Government Act 1858 gave local authorities power to make byelaws with respect to new streets and the provision of sewerage, the structure of walls of new buildings for securing stability and the prevention of fires, a sufficiency of space about buildings to secure free circulation of air, and the ventilation and drainage of buildings. It also created the power to remove, alter or pull down any work begun or done in contravention. Party walls are carried above the roofline of these London houses. It was not unusual in semi-urban districts to modify the relevant clause in the model byelaws to exempt houses of less than 30 feet in height, reducing cost and the potential for penetration by rain. (Opposite) 41/42 Cloth Fair, by the church of St Bartholmew the Great. Built in the early 17th century, it is a unique survivor of Great Fire of London. The use of timber on the gable would be prohibited by the Rebuilding of London Act 1666.ihbc.org.uk