The judge for the 2013 IHBC Annual Gus Astley Student Awards, Jeremy Musson, architectural historian and writer, has selected Sebastian Fry as the winner, for a thesis presented to the IHBC-recognised conservation course at the Architectural Association, a work Musson describes as an ‘impressively wide-ranging study’ into Knight Hospitaller commanderies and associated parish churches.
Three other submissions have been selected for commendation by Musson, all also made to courses fully recognised by the IHBC:
- Yuk Hong Ian Tan, University of Edinburgh, on bridges in Singapore
- Tim Lewis, Birmingham University, on a case study around post-War social housing
- Lauren Ayers, Oxford Brookes University, on the conservation of the Edwardian terrace house.
Fry, and the authors of the 2013 Award’s three commended submissions, all will received free places at the IHBC’s 2014 Annual School in Edinburgh on 5-7 June, hearing speakers ranging from Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Fiona Hyslop, MSP, to a global authority on the history of conservation, Prof Jukka Jokilehto. Jeremy Musson will also attend the School, and present the Award’s prizes at the IHBC’s Annual Dinner.
Jeremy Musson said of his experience of judging the 2014 IHBC Gus Astley Award: ‘I very much enjoyed the privilege of being the judge of this Award and was overwhelmed by the high quality of research going on in the broad field of historic building conservation. It ranges from in-depth analysis of conservation policy, to more building-focused studies that highlight the complexity of so many contemporary conservation issues. Selecting my finalists was a challenge, but it was a very rewarding journey.’
Of Fry’s Award-winning submission, Jeremy Musson said: ‘Knowledge and clear understanding of buildings underpin the best conservation philosophy and practice so I have selected for the first prize, the impressively wide-ranging study of Knight Hospitaller commanderies and associated parish churches by Sebastian Fry.’
‘I was, in truth, quite swept away by the depth of research and the rigour with which Mr Fry tackled and explained this much overlooked but fascinating subject, drawing not only on on-site survey work, and visits to structures as far apart as Pembrokeshire and the Mediterranean island of Rhodes, but also first-hand research in medieval and later sources.’
‘This study must stand as one of the best surveys of the subject to date, and includes both a valuable gazetteer of surviving commanderies (of a historic 37 only 14 remain) and it also concludes with a thoughtful survey of the history and current practice of the conservation and presentation of surviving commanderies. I very much hope that this dissertation will be progressed to publication.’
He continued: ‘The other three dissertations I have chosen to receive awards have a similarly impressive range although they tackle very different subjects. Each showed a thoroughness in investigating significant and unusual topics: Lauren’s study into the conservation of Edwardian terraces illustrates the need to review their current conservation protection; Tim’s study, a rewarding review of concrete structures used in postwar public housing projects, and Ian’s study of historic Singapore bridges also was stimulating and unexpected.’
On the submissions for the 2014 Award as a whole, Jeremy Musson noted: ‘The work going on in universities and architectural schools today in this field, represented by the wide range of entries and those selected here for awards, is truly inspiring and gives great hope for fresh new ideas in the philosophy of conservation and preservation. I humbly thank the Institute for my exposure to so much talent and industry: which gives us all great hope for the future.’
Andrew Shepherd of the Architectural Association said of Sebastian Fry’s award-winning work there: ‘Sebastian was an interested and interesting student who participated very fully on the course and as ever my colleagues and I will watch the expected progression of his career with pride. We were a little dubious about the scope and possibilities of his selected thesis topic, but are delighted that he proved us wrong, and produced such a work of scholarship’.
Sebastian Fry said: ‘I’m delighted and proud to win this fantastic award for a thesis I really enjoyed writing – what a fantastic opportunity the IHBC Gus Astley Award has offered. Thank you to the IHBC, to Jeremy Musson and to the Architectural Association.’
Of the submission by Tim Lewis commended in the 2014 Award, Jeremy Musson said: ‘I was captivated by Tim Lewis’s fascinating study into a period too much overlooked and a subject that also is a defining one for the British town: post-war social housing.’
‘The provision of postwar housing was an enormous challenge to national and local government and Mr Ellis’s investigation into the new housing on Hester’s Way Estate in Cheltenham, built using non-traditional systems, is again rigorous and well-written. It offers a robust understanding of the process and historic context of the design of such houses, which were constructed using poured and pre-cast concrete to speed the delivery of building targets, and of the challenges of repair and maintenance of these houses in modern times.
Tim Lewis said: ‘To have one’s work commended by fellow professionals is hugely gratifying and will hopefully help bring the subject of study to a much wider audience’.
Of the submission by Lauren Ayers commended in the 2013 Award Jeremy Musson said: ‘Ms Ayers’ work was on a much more everyday subject, but caught my eye for its careful and systematic character, pursuing an effective account of the legal conservation protection of the Edwardian terraced house in Britain. This lively study vividly underlines the vulnerability of the Edwardian terraced house, which is not only an important feature of the evolution of the British terraced house, but a defining feature of the British townscape and way of life; in my view Ms Ayers makes a very good case for further nationwide analysis, recording and indeed the extension of legal protection.’
Lauren Ayers write: ‘I am very honoured that my submission has been commended for the Gus Astley Student Award’
Of the submission by Yuk Hong Ian Tan commended in the 2013 Award, Jeremy Musson said: ‘This is an ambitious, multi-layered study of five historic colonial era bridges over the Singapore River, built between the the 1860s and 1930s; this study was very well researched, clearly argued and puts a compelling stress on a holistic approach to the conservation of such bridges, drawing on a clear understanding of the technological, historic, economic, and contemporary social significance of such bridges.’
Dimitris Theodossopoulos of the University of Edinburgh said of Ian: ‘Ian has been brilliant as a student, driving the project from the start, with genuine enthusiasm and will for knowledge. I also learnt so much on the procurement of such important structures through the colonial network.’
Ian writes: ‘This came at a most opportune time in my career as I embarked on a year long project to document and showcase the historic infrastructure development of Singapore during the colonial and early independence period.’
‘My current employer, National Heritage Board had kindly sponsored my Masters Education in the University of Edinburgh, allowing me to have the opportunity to embark on this research dissertation on Historic Bridges over Singapore. Upon my return, they had further encouraged me to showcase the research findings, culminating in a series of public lectures and walking tours along the Singapore riverfront and historic bridges. I am glad the research findings from the dissertation have been disseminated to a wider public audience over the last two years’.
‘Thank you once again for the award.’
And of his intention to travel from Singapore to the IHBC’s Annual School in Edinburgh to receive his award, Ian writes: ‘This trip will be even more memorable for me as I will be receiving the awards in Edinburgh, where I embarked on this research dissertation on Historic Bridges over Singapore River.’
The winning submission for the 2014 IHBC Gus Astley Student Award is:
- Sebastian Fry, AA Graduate Diploma in the Conservation of Historic Buildings, Architectural Association: ‘Function, Tradition, Ideology or Patron: What influenced the architecture of Knights Hospitaller Commandery Chapels and Associated Churches in Britain, 1140-1370?’. Tutor Andrew Shepherd.
The ‘Commended’ submissions for the 2014 IHBC Gus Astley Student Award are:
- Yuk Hong Ian Tan, MSc Architectural Conservation (2012) University of Edinburgh, ‘Bridges to Our Heritage – The Significance of Five Historic Bridges over Singapore River’. Tutor: Dimitris Theodossopoulos.
- Tim Lewis, MA Historic Environment Conservation 2012, University of Birmingham, ‘’Homes fit for heroes’ – An evaluation of non-traditional post war social housing, Hester’s Way, Cheltenham 1945-59’. Tutor: Harriet Devlin.
- Lauren Ayers, MSc Historic Conservation 2012, Oxford Brookes University ‘The Significance and Protection of the Edwardian Terraced House’. Tutor: Michelle Thomas.
For background details, submissions and other aspects of IHBC Gus Astley Award for 2014 see: LINK