19/01/18 – Preserving Heritage


By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Here in the North East we are blessed with a fantastically rich history. Our rural and built environments show evidence of human habitation from centuries ago and the value held in within them goes beyond the obvious. Whilst our historic environments and buildings are undoubtedly fantastic to look at and explore, they contain within them knowledge and evidence of skills from centuries ago. Rebuilding, restoring, maintaining and upgrading sites and buildings of historical importance is an essential element of our industry’s work. We have a responsibility to enable people to enjoy and learn from these environments now and preserve them for future generations.

However, if you stop and think about it, this history is evident in so many ways, from the world-renowned structures like Hadrian’s Wall and Durham Cathedral, to the countless pre-1920’s domestic properties. Our industry must ensure we learn from the past and use appropriate methods and materials to secure their future in the most sustainable way. Preservation and restoration is the ultimate form of recycling. It helps reduce waste and ensures that the buildings work in the way in which they were designed.

The industry has really upped its game in terms of technology over the last few years, but for almost every piece of new tech, there are energy-efficiency lessons to be learned from historical buildings. For example, before air conditioning, structures made do with passive environmental control from cross-ventilation windows to shutters and bricks that helped keep out the sun. The high thermal mass of stone, as seen in most Victorian buildings, retains warmth in winter and cools in summer. When properly renovated or restored, old buildings can use less energy than modern buildings, even those that are ‘sustainable’.

Last year, the project team for the Co-op Development, Newgate Street, Newcastle were won the Preservation and Rejuvenation award at the Constructing Excellence North East Awards. The team rose to the challenge of restoring the iconic building after years of neglect. This category is one that holds a special place in my heart as it focuses on restoring and preserving the history and culture of the North East, and who wouldn’t want that?

This year’s Preservation and Rejuvenation award, sponsored by Watson Burton, is looking for projects that can demonstrate:
• Evidence of research and investigation into replacing, repairing and matching traditional methods and materials encountered with evaluation of alternative options.
• Choice of appropriate procurement that reflects the risks in such work.
• Application of well-considered and sympathetic technical solutions, both traditional and innovative.
• Delivery of customer satisfying quality and enduring outcomes.
• A clear commitment to the development of heritage skills and training opportunities to sustain heritage related works.
We know there are multiple projects which are eligible to enter this year and win or lose, the Constructing Excellence North East Awards are a great way to promote your expertise and knowledge. I anticipate it’s going to be a difficult decision for the judges this year.

The entries for both the CENE and G4C Awards close on Wednesday 28 February at 5pm. If would like to discuss your project or nomination with CENE please contact Leanne McAngus on 0191 500 7880 or email leanne@cene.org.uk