IHBC’s Gus Astley Student Award winners now out: Sarah Kahn (AA) on The Ghost in the Machine…: ‘Completely absorbing and fascinating, and genuinely useful’ said guest judge Ben Cowell

logoThe winner of the IHBC Gus Astley Student Award for 2019 has been selected by guest judge Ben Cowell, Director General of Historic Houses, as Sarah Khan, whose course work on ‘The Ghost in the Machine: Occupants’ influence on the Environmental Performance in a Grade I Listed Building’ was submitted to the former Postgraduate Diploma in Building Conservation from the Architectural Association, an IHBC-Recognised conservation course.

Cowell said that he found Sarah’s work ‘completely absorbing and fascinating, and genuinely useful’.  Sarah will receive a £500 cash award and certificate, though sadly for her and all the winners the 2020 award, the COVID-pandemic means that there no Annual School or Dinner places for the 2020 award presentations.

There were several other prizes announced, each of which comes with a cash prize and certificate.

Two ‘Highly Commended’ prizes have been also awarded by Cowell.  One goes to Tim Horne, from the IHBC-recognised conservation course at Kingston University, for his ‘Designation or Demolition? An exploration of the significance and conservation of London’s Post-War housing estates’.  The other goes to Charlotte Penny, from the University of Westminster, for ‘Conservation Theory and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings Manifesto…’.  Both Tim and Charlotte will receive a £150 cash awards and certificates.

Cowell described the former as both ‘interesting and very  well presented’, while he said of the latter that its value lay in exploring ‘how the National Trusts approach compares against Morris’s conservation philosophy’.

The Gus Astley Memorial Fund ‘Trustee’s Special Commendation’ – selected by Bob Kindred in his role as trustee of the fund that inspired the IHBC’s annual awards programme – has been awarded to Rhona Fleming, from the IHBC-recognised MSc in ‘Architectural Design for the Conservation of Built Heritage’ at Strathclyde University, for her work comparing the legislation and regulations of Scotland and England.  Rhona will receive a £100 cash award and a certificate.

For 2020 a new award has been announced in the IHBC’s Student Awards, to recognise the institute’s long and close association with and leadership by its past-President (and much else!), the late Eddie Booth, and The Conservation Studio practice that he led with partner Chezel Bird, as an initiative promoted by IHBC member and colleague Eimear Murphy.

Currently titled the ‘Booth Bird Award for a Conservation Plan’, for 2020 this has been awarded to Anna Jacka, from the IHBC-recognised PGDip in Conservation of the Historic Environment at Birmingham City University.  For her Conservation Management Plan for Denny Abbey, she will receive a £100 cash award and certificate.

Further details on the awards:

Sarah Khan (Dissertation): The Ghost in the Machine: Occupants’ influence on the Environmental Performance in a Grade I Listed Building

David Hills, BA (Hons) GradDiplCons(AA)dist RIBA AABC Partner at Purcell, and tutor, said: ‘Sarah’s study is a startlingly original and valuable contribution to the debate on energy efficiency in highly-graded listed buildings.  It reveals how we can learn from past occupation of these buildings with some surprising discoveries of how once commonplace additions improved environmental performance as well as impacting on their physical appearance.  It further explores how modern-day aesthetic preconceptions and attitudes expressed via the listed building consent regime may prevent their reinstatement, which has the potential of using historically correct methods to benefit building users and, ultimately, the planet….’

Sarah Khan said: ‘I feel extremely fortunate that for my dissertation, I was able to coalesce my seemingly divergent interests in building conservation and sustainability. As a conservation architect, it has been a constant struggle to find ways to rise up to meet the climate emergency challenge. I found it increasingly frustrating to hear old buildings being compared to energy-hungry vintage cars – there to be looked at, but not used. It was a great joy to discover the plethora of archival information about the different ways in which buildings were managed in the past, and how re-introducing them could be simple, but an extremely effective way forward.’

‘Enrolling at the Architectural Association Building Conservation was one of the best decisions of my career. I had wanted to broaden my horizons, and it did that spectacularly. I am incredibly grateful to my teachers for allowing me to experiment during my dissertation, for the faculty in the MSc sustainability program who lent their advice, and indeed the AA staff members who participated in the experimental research.’

‘I am very grateful also to the IHBC for recognising this research. The climate emergency is the biggest issue for our times, and I hope to raise awareness about techniques that enhance traditional buildings while improving occupant comfort and reducing their carbon footprint.’

Tim Horne (Dissertation) Designation or Demolition? An exploration of the significance and conservation of London’s Post-War housing estates

Amanda Lewis, Lecturer at the Department of Architecture and Landscape, Kingston School of Art, said: ‘Tim Horne was a reliable catalyst for engaging his peers in intriguing discussions on the MSc Historic Building Conservation which he undertook part-time at Kingston University while working for Historic England.  He encouraged debate on matters ranging from the need or otherwise to restore remnants of Soviet rule in Eastern Europe, to the consequences of the partial destruction of Deptford High Street, having organised a one-day walking tour in the area.  The range and depth of topics he covered, led him to investigate the controversies surrounding the architecture of twentieth century Brutalist social housing. His dissertation was the result of detailed research covering the efficacy of the listing system in comparison to the benefits of conservation area status.’

Tim Horne said: ‘I am very honoured to have received a ‘Highly Commended’ Gus Astley Student Award for my MSc research into the conservation of London’s Post-War social housing estates. I strongly believe that as increasing development pressure on our aging stock of Post-War housing raises the threat of harm to these significant and architecturally diverse heritage assets, we need to highlight the best examples of sympathetic estate regeneration and explore the full range of options for protecting and conserving these historic places and their wealth of tangible and intangible heritage.’

‘I would like to thank the IHBC for recognising the value of my research…. I am delighted to have completed the MSc Historic Building Conservation course at Kingston School of Art and I am extremely grateful to the course tutors and my fellow students for their guidance, wisdom, and enthusiasm throughout what proved to be a hugely rewarding and wide-ranging course. I would also like to thank my colleagues at Historic England for their encouragement and support during my studies, especially Claire Brady, Geraint Franklin, and Posy Metz who all contributed invaluable and insightful interviews as part of my research.’

Charlotte Penny (Dissertation): Conservation Theory and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings Manifesto: The Red House and the Contest between the Theoretical and Practical Nature of Conservation

Dr Kate Jordan, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Westminster, said: ‘Charlotte mined a variety of sources to produce a thought-provoking analysis of contemporary conservation practice and theory. Her work makes a valuable contribution to the scholarship of architectural heritage.’

Charlotte Penny said: ‘I am delighted to have received the ‘Highly Commended’ Gus Astley Student Award. I would like to sincerely thank the IHBC for the recognition and the opportunity to attend the Brighton School, as well as Dr Kate Jordan from the University of Westminster for her uplifting support and shared enthusiasm for my research.’

‘I very much enjoyed researching and writing my dissertation, in particular delving into archives and finding fascinating resources. The question of ‘the contest between the theoretical and practical nature of conservation’ was the subject of the dissertation, which centred on the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings’ Manifesto and more specifically with the ongoing conservation of the historic fabric at William Morris’ Red House.’

‘I learned that philosophy and practice appear to only touch the surface of conservation and as such, conservation cannot solely be considered as three dimensional; the fourth dimension of time must be taken into account. Many factors are involved in the consideration of conservation work and custodians have to balance a wide range of often conflicting constraints, whilst also acting as faithful guardians of the United Kingdom’s shared heritage.’

Rhona Fleming (Project): Legislation and Regulations: The assignment was to compare and contrast the legislation and regulations of two different countries.  The submitted essay compares Scotland and England

Dr Cristina Gonzalez-Longo, RIBA SCA RIAS FHEA FRSA Director: MSc in Architectural Design for the Conservation of Built Heritage at the University of Strathclyde, said: ‘Rhona’s essay for the Legislation and Regulations module challenges the typical essay format. With H.B. Creswell’s ‘The Honeywood File’ as reference, it takes the form of a comic script, with an exchange of letters and extracts from meeting minutes and the intervention in between of a narrator. These documents unravel in very humorous and creative way the endeavours of Sir Nye Eve, a wealthy (property rich, cash poor) English client concerning a derelict building on the edge of his estate on the outskirts of a fictitious remote village in the English countryside. The names assigned to the different players are part of the characterisation: Lord Hamish MacDotty Dashwood of Dougleshire (distant cousin of Sir Nye), Ms Parla Motion (Conservation Architect, Scales and Scales Architects), Mr Ian Bodge (Builder), etc. As well as comparing legislation in England in Scotland, it makes a hilarious story, a mix of architectural conservation ignorance, indifference, incompetence and fake philanthropism. Truly the worst-case scenario in a project, but with very recognisable individual situations.’

Rhona Fleming said: ‘The award is an encouragement to all mature architects who may consider the prospect of a Masters Degree in Architectural Design for the Conservation of Built Heritage an overly daunting prospect, especially if many years have elapsed since qualification.  However, it is an opportunity to challenge your pre conceptions and to refresh, sharpen and widen your knowledge of the subject.  In a busy office it can be difficult to allocate sufficient time to address a topic in the level of detail it deserves but the discipline of a structured course and the necessity to complete an assignment to a deadline certainly focuses the mind.  This degree of rigorous study and reflection has proved a valuable tool in reassessing my approach to practice and the acknowledgement of the IHBC Gus Astley Award panel is much appreciated.’

Anna Jacka (Project): Conservation Management Plan for Denny Abbey

Katriona Byrne, Course Director, MA Conservation of the Historic Environment, said: ‘Anna Jacka is studying at Birmingham City University doing an MA in Conservation of the Historic Environment. She submitted this consummate CMP as the major assignment in Year 1 of the course. We are delighted that this award recognises her hard work and ability. Her cohort is of a very good standard and this was one of the top reports of the year. She also rose to the challenge of producing an academic assignment at the same time as ensuring it could be used immediately by her employers.’

Anna Jacka said: ‘I am honoured to have been awarded this prize for my Conservation Management Plan for Denny Abbey, Cambridgeshire. Producing the plan was a steep learning curve, but gave me the opportunity to liaise with colleagues across English Heritage, and to work with the Farmland Museum Trust and site volunteers. It has deepened my understanding of the challenges facing conservation professionals and of the various strategies used to tackle them.’

Find out more on the IHBC Gus Astley annual Student Award

See more background to the 2019 award guest judge

View the list of IHBC Recognised Courses

See more on the 2018 winners announcement

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