As conservation architects who specialise in historic buildings, our motto is very much that ‘The greenest building is the one that is already built.” At the core of our business is challenging the idea that traditional buildings are not obstacles to sustainability – they can be highly energy efficient with the right design.
Our experience has taught us that we need to take a pragmatic approach to understanding the energy performance of a building so we can recognise where there is capacity for improvement and the grounds for change. This is very much the case at the University of Oxford, namely Magdalen College and Pembroke College, where we're currently working with the University on sustainability upgrades. Both colleges are undertaking a masterplan which will set out the roadmap to achieving Net Zero operational carbon and Net Zero indirect carbon, as well as significantly increasing biodiversity across the College sites.
Magdalen College includes an array of heritage buildings of high architectural value but low-carbon efficiency. Decarbonising these buildings is a complex and multi-step project, but the investment will improve comfort and functionality, as well as the College’s aspirations for net zero.
Magdalen College commissioned a high-level report into decarbonising its buildings in April 2022. Carbon emissions estimated at around 2152 tonnes CO2 per year in 2022 were dominated by space heating, especially of pre-1900s buildings. Recognising the challenges of upgrading listed buildings, the report identified the potential to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 through a combination of heat-pump technology and building fabric upgrades. There is also a 5-year decarbonisation plan for College.
One of the College’s projects, 71 High Street now functions as student accommodation and dates from c1772. The building has functioned as flats or student accommodation for a number of years, and the project is addressing energy efficiency by introducing sustainability upgrades. These include:
Our philosophy and approach is very much about understanding buildings in a holistic way, treating each one individually and this is very much the case for our work at Magdalen and Pembroke Colleges.
Stay tuned for more project progress as the project develops.
The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust have embarked on a three-year programme, Conserving the Historic Estate (CHE), to repair some 49 buildings.
Work ranges from removing vegetation and external redecoration to re-roofing and stabilisation works. As Architect for the CHE programme, we are working with The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust to bring the heritage assets into a good state of repair and provide a sound base for future maintenance.
The project focuses on the heritage buildings in their original context/environment within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.
The main cluster of buildings and structures can be found at Coalbrookdale, Coalport, Jackfield and Blists Hill (Madeley) and there are a number of structures and monuments situated throughout the Gorge including five Scheduled Monuments, one Grade ! Listed structure, 10 Grade II* listed structures and 19 Grade II listed structures all within an area of 5.5km2.
The buildings of specific interest are:
Congratulations to Charlotte Davies who has passed her RIBA Part III and is now officially an architect after nine years of hard work and studying!
Charlotte joined us almost four years ago as a Part II Architectural Assistant after graduating from Birmingham City University. Her Masters projects included an analysis of Chiswick House in London and a thesis scheme of temporary performance structures linking ecclesiastical buildings across Birmingham, which led her to pursue a career in conservation.
Since joining, Charlotte has worked on a range of historic buildings including phase two of roof repairs to The Museum of the Gorge in Ironbridge.
We're very proud of Charlotte and look forward to watching her develop in the future!
The MArch Architecture programme at Birmingham City University offers a unique opportunity for architecture practices to work with students on a live project. This tests advanced skills of design and collaboration within the context of professional practice. This year, we were delighted to lead the conservation aspect of the module, and yesterday we listened to the final presentations from students. We were impressed by the quality of the architectural design proposals which focussed on The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Museum of the Gorge. We wish the students luck in their final submissions this month.
Thank you also to our clients from The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust who attended and provided some excellent and insightful feedback.
This year we're collaborating with Birmingham City University's Architecture School on their Advanced Praxis Module. The module aims to provide students with real-life learning and practical experience in the architecture industry, collaborating or consulting with an external client. As one of the architecture practices involved, we are working with a group of postgraduate students on one of our live projects (Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust Museum of the Gorge). This will test students’ advanced skills of design and collaboration within the context of professional practice, culminating in a detailed architectural design proposal, which they will share this with us next month.