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Personal profile

Biography

I am a university Associate Professor and programme leader for MSc in Building Conservation (Technology & Management) with 10 years industrial experience in general construction, building surveying, and building conservation practice.

Research: My research activities are undertaken within the Royal Academy of Engineering Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design; Investigating traditional & low carbon building materials & architectural technologies; Building pathology, fabric repair & maintenance; Survey & evaluation of buildings; Building resilience to climate change; Heritage Building Information Modelling; Building conservation philosophy; and Construction & engineering education. My research was returned in a joint submission with the University of Edinburgh for Unit of Assessment (UoA) ‘Architecture, Built Environment & Planning’ for RAE 2008, and REF 2014 & 2021. I have attained cumulative research grant funding as PI & CI totalling £750K [FEC] from major funding councils including, EPSRC, TSB, RSE, RAE & British Council. Dissemination of these projects and my broader research portfolio has led to 80 published outputs, five of which were recipient of outstanding and highly commended journal paper awards. I have an h-index of 15 and an i-10 index of 20. In addition, I was awarded the Sir Edmund Happold Senior Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of Bath in 2011, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh visiting Research Fellowship in 2014 in collaboration with the Academy of Sciences for the Czech Republic.

I am a peer reviewer for numerous international journals including; Building Research & Information (BR&I); Journal of Architectural Conservation; Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management (ECAM); Structural Survey: Journal of Building Pathology; Materials & Structure; Association Preservation Technology (APT); Intellect Publications; Heritage Science; WIREs Climate Change; Sustainable Cities and Society; Elsevier Science & Technology; Cities, International Journal of urban Policy & Planning; Construction & Building Materials; Palgrave Macmillian; Journal of Cultural Heritage; Journal of Cleaner Production; Studies in Higher Education. I have also undertaken grant proposal reviews for the following funding councils; British Council – Newton Fund / Newton Prize; European Commission – Cultural Heritage (FP7); Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) R4D – Thematic grants; Carnegie Trust; and the British Academy.

I have successfully supervised to completion two PhD students in the broad areas of low carbon materials and historic building fabric repair. I am currently first supervisor to 3 PhD student and second supervisor to an additional 2. In addition to my PhD supervision I have extensive experience as a PhD external examiner. 

Teaching & Learning: I have been delivering high quality teaching and learning in building conservation, architectural tectonics/construction technology, multi-disciplinary design projects and building surveying oriented subjects. I was awarded the 2010 Graduates Teaching Prize for lecturer of the year, the 2010 ‘Spirit of Heriot-Watt University’ award for Pursing Excellence and shortlisted for the 2011 & 2015 Teaching and Learning Oscars, ‘Switched on’ - most engaging lecturer award. I have written many journal papers and article relating to construction and engineering education and specifically the connectivity between academic industrial experience, student engagement and experiential learning, and professional identity formation. In addition to my MSc programme leader role my administrative duties include; first year undergraduate student co-ordinator, undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) dissertations coordinator, health & safety officer for the materials laboratory, and former Construction Management & Surveying Programmes admissions tutor (2009-2012).

Professional engagement & Citizenship: I have held several external programme examiner appointments, including; the MSc in Built Environment Courses & MSc Conservation of Buildings, Anglia Ruskin University (2012–2017); and BSc (Hons) in Construction Project Management, Northumbria University (2015-2020). Professionally, I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA); a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Builders (FCIOB); a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (FCABE); a full member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) and an associate member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Additionally, I am an elected member of the RICS Building Surveying Professional group (Scotland); a member of the Editorial Advisory Group for the RICS Building Conservation Journal; a member of the IHBC technical committee; and a member of the Editorial advisory board for the Journal of Building Pathology & Adaptation. Additional awards include the attainment of the prestigious travelling Lethaby Scholarship (2001) awarded by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) gave invaluable and unique, practical experience. This ultimately stimulated a long term interest in building conservation.

Industrial experience: Practical experience of surveying, recording and evaluation of historic buildings was attained whilst working for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) within the survey and recording section. Building surveying & site supervision of conservation projects was undertaken whilst working for Stirling Council, the Scottish Lime Centre and also Laing Traditional Masonry, with particular specialism in masonry fabric repair and internal and external lime works. Additional site experience relates to six years working in the mechanical services sector.

Academic Biography

2005- 2007 Post Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) – Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

2001 – Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (S.P.A.B) Lethaby Scholar (winner of 1 of 4 funded scholarship places)

1997-2002 PhD / Doctor of Philosophy (Heriot-Watt University). Thesis entitled ‘An assessment of the relationship between the water vapour permeability and hydraulicity of lime based mortars with particular reference to building conservation materials science’

1993 - 1997 BSc (Hon) in Building Surveying (awarded first class) (Heriot-Watt University)

1991 - 1993 Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Construction Studies (with Distinction)

1986 - 1990 City & Guilds Advanced Craft Certificate in Plumbing and Mechanical Services (winner of the JT Wilkinson Merit Shield and the JA Atkinson cup)

 

Research interests

1. Low carbon materials

2. Impact of climate change on traditional buildings

3. Construction technology & design 

4. Sustainable construction and green materials

5. Green building maintenance

6. Conservative repair of traditional structures

7. Building pathology, inspection & objectivity in evaluation

8. Building conservation philosophy & historic graffiti

9. Heritage Building Information Modelling (HBIM) 

10. Construction & engineering education

 

Funded Research Projects

Cumulative research grants funding as PI & CI totalling approximately, £750,000 [FEC] from major funding councils including, Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), Technology Strategy Board (TSB), British Council (BC), Global Challenges Research fund (GCRF), Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), and Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE).


Funder
:Royal Academy of Engineers (RAE); Frontiers of Development ‘The educational opportunity for building a resilient future’

  • Award Value£17,832;
  • Duration: 1week, July 2020;
  • Position PI;
  • Context: Workshop – development of an educational framework for blended learning on urban resilience

 

Global Challenges Research Funding (GCRF) ‘promoting the utilisation of low carbon concrete through performance testing’

  • Funder:GCRF;
  • Award Value£10,000;
  • Duration: 1week, Aug 2019;
  • Position CI;
  • Context: Collaborative symposium workshop

Global Challenges Research Fund workshop event: Urban Crisis resilience: ‘The Urban Opportunity for Building a Resilient Future’ Putrajaya Malaysia

  • Funder:Royal Academy of Engineers (RAE);
  • Award Value£1,500;
  • Duration: 1week, July 2019;
  • Position PI;
  • Context: Symposium – machine learning / digital technologies

 

Historic Digital Survey III: Digital Data Acquisition & Processing for Historic Building Fabric Condition Survey & Interpretation.

  • Funder: Historic Environment Scotland;
  • Award Value£63,400 (FEC);
  • Duration: 6Months, starting June 2018;
  • Position CI (10%);
  • Context: Development of GUI.

Historic Digital Survey II – Project extension: Digital Data Acquisition & Processing for Historic Building Fabric Condition Survey; Interpretation, Machine learning & Scan to BIM.

  • Funder: Historic Environment Scotland;
  • Award Value£40,840 (FEC);
  • Duration: 4Months starting January 2018,
  • Position CI (10%);
  • Context: Development of algorithms for HBIM applications

 

Historic Digital Survey II: Digital Data Acquisition & Processing for Historic Building Fabric Condition Survey & Interpretation

  • Funder: Historic Environment Scotland
  • Duration: 6Months, starting January 2017
  • Award Value: £82,500.00
  • Position CI (10%)
  • Context: Pilot study of drone based building fabric assessment

 

Researcher Links Programme "Building Information Modelling and Collaboration for Retrofit for Resilient Housing and Sustainability: Research, Practice and Support for Social Innovation" Research network & workshops, Istanbul, Turkey

  • Funder: British Council
  • Duration: April 2016 (4 days)
  • Award Value: Circa £3,500.00
  • Position PI (100%)
  • Context: Competitively awarded workshop participant 

 

Researcher Links Programme "Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure for Economic Development" Research network & workshops, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand

  • Funder: British Council
  • Duration: January 2015 (1 week)
  • Award Value: £48,000.00
  • Position CI (50%)
  • Context: Invited work shop facilitator & chair

 

Investigating Stereo-Vision based Videogrammetry for Cultural Heritage Building Fabric Condition Survey

  • Funder: Historic Scotland
  • Duration: 6Months, starting February 2015
  • Award Value: £80,000.00
  • Position CI (30%)
  • Context: Pilot study of drone based building fabric assessment

 

Low carbon materials in the historic built environment

  • Funder: Historic Scotland - PhD scholarship grant
  • Duration: 3Years, starting January 2015
  • Award Value: £22,500.00 + £21,000 (3yr fee waiver)
  • Position PI: (100%)
  • Context: Funded PhD student 

 

Reverse engineering historic limes: Provenance, production and performance – ‘Closing the knowledge gap

  • Funder: Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE)
  • Duration: 1 month, March 2014
  • Award Value: £8,600.00
  • Position PI: (100%)
  • Context: Bilateral exchange programme (Visiting Research Fellowship) awarded in collaboration with the Academy of Sciences for the Czech Republic. This work was undertaken within the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Centre of Excellence for Advanced Research Centre for Cultural Heritage Interdisciplinary Projects. The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic is the leading non-university public research institution in the Czech Republic. This grant enabled the development of meaningful collaborative research in the area of low carbon materials in the Built Environment.

 

Lime-Quest Project: ”Technical and environmental performance framework for regionally sourced lime mortars: A comparative analysis method”

  • Funder: Technology Strategy Board (TSB) – Knowledge Transfer
  • Duration: 18 months, 2013-14
  • Award Value: £135,000.00
  • Position PI: (100%)
  • Context: Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) collaborative project with Historic Scotland & Heriot-Watt University. The research developed a specification framework for use of regional lime mortars in conservation through determination of performance characteristics and bench-marking the potential for carbon/energy reduction.

 

Performance of sustainable / low energy alternative binders exposed to rapid dehydration – hydration conditions

  • Funder: SBE Early Career Researcher Doctoral studentship grant
  • Duration: 3 years, 2011-14
  • Award Value: £21,000.00 (3yr International Fee Wavier)
  • Position PI: (100%)
  • Context: The Funded by the HWU, Royal Academy of Engineering’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design.

 

Sir Edmund Happold Senior Visiting Research Fellowship, University of Bath

  • Funder: Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACE): Innovative Construction Materials Research Group -Competitively Awarded Grant – Co sponsored by ACE and the Happold Trust
  • Duration: 3 Months, July – Sept 2011
  • Award Value: £2,000.00
  • Position PI: (100%)
  • Context: The purpose of the Research Fellowship was to enable the development of collaborative research on a fundamental level leading to a long term relationship between institutions. The fellowship invited established academics working in a field relevant to any of the Department's research interests.

 

The use of earth as a contemporary construction material in Scotland

  • Funder: Collaborative ‘Kick Start’ Funding: Creativity and innovation:University of Edinburgh, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture & Heriot-Watt University, School of the Built Environment
  • Duration: 3 Months, Nov 2011
  • Award Value: £2,000.00
  • Position PI: (50%)
  • Context: Collaborative research funding enabling a student led exploration of earth finish, texture and colour.

 

Conduction calorimetry consultancy - on alternative binders

  • Funder: University College London (UCL)
  • Duration: 3 Months, Sept 2011
  • Award Value: £3,000.00
  • Position PI: (100%)
  • Context: Calorimetry testing upon innovative cement blends.

 

An assessment of binder leaching in traditional mortars for mass masonry

  • Funder: Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)EP/ G064865/1.
  • Duration: 3 years, 2009-12
  • Award Value: £150,000.00
  • Position PI: (100%)
  • Context: The research investigated the impact of climate change on traditionally built masonry structures and more specifically, established the rate of soluble binder leaching in various lime mortar types commonly used in their construction. The work investigated the effect on the mechanical properties of the mortar and changes to the macro and micro pore structure, evaluating its influence on moisture transfer mechanisms.

 

 National Progression Awards Consultancy

  • Funder: Historic Scotland
  • Duration: 2 Months, Sept 2009
  • Award Value: £5,000.00
  • Position PI: (100%)
  • Context: Wrote the national training package for the newly proposed National Progression Awards (SVQ) in conservation masonry, focusing on the impact of environment and building detailing on the specification of materials (on behalf of Historic Scotland).

 

 Cob Wall response to flooding

  • Funder: Funded by the Centre for the Built Environment [CEBE]
  • Duration: 6 Months, Nov 2008
  • Award Value: £5,000.00
  • Position CI: (50%)
  • Context: A preliminary laboratory based assessment of the performance of ‘Cob’ to increased incidence of flooding associated with climate change.

 

Specialist advisory research input & networks:

(i) LIMES.NET: Network for Low Impact Materials and innovative Engineering Solutions for the built environment (Sept 2011):BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, University of Bath

(ii) Engineering Historic Futures (EHF) impact of climate change on historic buildings (2003):Specialist advisor to Historic Scotland (stakeholder partner) and the Scottish Lime Centre trust for their input into the engineering historic futures project, specifically evaluating laboratory wall  simulations of historic buildings, correlated to site based monitoring (National Trust properties: Brodick Castle and Blickling Hall). Engineering Historic Futures was a three-year project, run by University College London (UCL) (2003-2006), and funded by EPSRC as part of their climate-change research initiative "Building Knowledge for a Changing Climate", investigating issues arising from water damage to historic buildings.

(iii) Experimental Lime Kiln (ELK) (2003):Research into production of traditional complex mortars. Worked as part of the research team analysing small scale lime burning.

(iv) Foresight Lime Research Project (2002):Specialist advisor to Historic Scotland and the Scottish Lime Centre for the then proposed ‘best practice guide for hydraulic lime mortar for stone, brick and block’. Project funding by EPSRC / DTI with PI responsibility at Bristol University.Advisory role included the peer review of the aforementioned publication. 

 

Completed PhD supervision:

  1. Kayan, B ‘Green maintenance for historic masonry buildings: a life cycle approach’ [Malaysian government funded £40K] (Awarded 2013)
  2. Ingram, V ‘Energy performance of traditionally constructed Scottish stone dwellings’ (Awarded 2013)
  3. Razali, N ‘Natural Hydraulic Lime Mortars for Use in High Temperature, High Humidity Climatic Conditions: Effect of Calcitic Fillers’ (Awarded 2014) [Competitively awarded funded £40K]

Current PhD supervision:

  1. Masson, L ‘An assessment of Natural Hydraulic Lime (NHL) binder aggregate interface for indigenous Scottish sands’ (Expected submission – April 2020)
  2. Spencer, H ‘Scottish medieval & post medieval window glass’ (Expected submission - April 2020)
  3. McGibbon, S ‘Towards a structured & holistic digital workflow for process improvement in the repair and maintenance of historic buildings’ (Expected submission April 2020)
  4. Aryan, A ‘Digital technologies’ (Expected submission 2021)

 

PhD Examination

Arturo Cruz ‘Planning to Live Longer:  Developing a Model for the Maintenance-focused  Heritage Building Conservation’ Queensland University of Technology (2020)

Westgate, P ‘Lime-based construction materials: effects of novel additives on physical and chemical properties’ University of Bath (2019)

Fuscade, L M M ‘designing and evaluating repointing lime mortars for the conservation of historic buildings in highly exposed environments’ University of Oxford (2019)

Hermo, J O ‘Lime based nanomaterials for the conservation of calcareous substrates in heritage structures’ Sheffield Hallam University (2018)

Whitman, C. ‘Low Energy Retrofitting of Historic Timber-Framed Buildings in the UK’ University of Cardiff (2018)

Wilke, S. ‘Evaluation of Cements and Other Constituents in Historically-Significant Structures in Scotland’ University of Dundee (2018)

Abo Kanon, H. ‘Flexible housing – UK and Turkey’ Heriot Watt University (2017)

Arnott, C. ‘The Origin, Development, Purpose and Properties of Galleting, Theory and Practices’ Faculty of Science & Technology, Anglia Ruskin University, England (2017)

Hippisley-Cox, C. ‘Towards a system of understanding for the traditional granaries of Northern Portugal based on those in the vicinity of Lindoso, Alto Minho’ University of Huddersfield (2016) – MPhil - PhD transfer viva

Ampatzioglou, E. ‘Investigating Natural Pozzolans and their use with Lime-Based Conservation Mortars’ University of Lincoln, England (2015)

Akande, O. ‘Energy Management in Designated Heritage Assets’ Faculty of Science & Technology, Anglia Ruskin University, England (2015)

Skelton I.R for the thesis entitled ‘Tall Buildings - Innovation in Construction’ School of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University (2014)

Zawawi, R. ‘The effect of burning conditions on the properties of hydraulic lime mortar obtained by calcining limestone and siliceous waste materials’ Heriot Watt University (2010)

Lennie, L.A. ‘The conservation of historic shop fronts in Perth and Perthshire’ Heriot Watt University (2006)

 

Journal Editorial roles 

Editorial Advisory Group member for the RICS Building Surveying/ Conservation Journal (2014- Present): The RICS building conservation journal is main professional publication for Building Surveyors. It is utilised as an integral component of CPD structured reading for the profession and forms an important role in the examination process of the Assessment of Professional Competency.  Its content is topical and reflects the technical education requirements of the profession. The reader base is significant with 15,000 thousand Chartered Building Surveyors receiving this publication (both electronically and hardcopy) 6 times a year. I have published extensively in the journal on a range of topical issues and this enables effective dissemination of my high end research papers.

Editorial advisory board member for The Journal of Building Pathology Adaptation (2015- Present): The Journal of Building Pathology & Adaptation is arguably one of the most important journals relating to the Building surveying profession. Its content is topical and it is related specifically to the core competencies required by chartered building surveyors and architects. It publishes findings on contemporary and original research in building pathology and building forensics, refurbishment and adaptation. This includes all related areas towards supporting more sustainable and resilient futures. Particular emphasis is placed on the emerging environmental challenges associated with sustaining the modern built environment.  

 

 

 

 

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Research Output

  • Role requirements in academic recruitment for construction and engineering

    Pilcher, N., Galbrun, L., Craig, N., Murray, M., Forster, A. M. & Tennant, S., 12 Feb 2020, In : European Journal of Engineering Education. 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Automated defect detection and classification in ashlar masonry walls using machine learning

    Valero, E., Forster, A., Bosché, F., Hyslop, E., Wilson, L. & Turmel, A., Oct 2019, In : Automation in Construction. 106, 102846.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Lime binders for the repair of historic buildings: Considerations for CO2 abatement

    Forster, A. M., Valek, J., Hughes, J. J. & Pilcher, N., 21 Dec 2019, In : Journal of Cleaner Production. 252, 119802.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Off Course

    Forster, A. M., Nov 2019, Built Environment Journal, p. 22-24.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationFeatured article

    Open Access

    Prizes

  • Best Paper Award at the 2018 International Symposium for Automation and Robotics in Construction (ISARC)

    Frédéric Bosché (Recipient), Enrique Valero (Recipient) & Alan Mark Forster (Recipient), 2018

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

    Edinburgh builders student prize

    Alan Mark Forster (Recipient), 1994

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

    Activities

    International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation (Journal)

    Alan Mark Forster (Editorial board member)
    4 Feb 2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPublication peer-review

    PhD External examiner - Queensland University of Technology

    Alan Mark Forster (Examiner)
    4 Feb 2020

    Activity: ExaminationExternal Examiner

    Global Challenges Research Funding (GCRF) ‘promoting the utilisation of low carbon concrete through performance testing' Collaborative symposium workshop

    Alan Mark Forster (Invited speaker)
    26 Aug 201928 Aug 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    Global Challenges Research Fund workshop event: Urban Crisis resilience: ‘The Urban Opportunity for Building a Resilient Future’

    Alan Mark Forster (Invited speaker)
    23 Jul 201926 Jul 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (External organisation)

    Alan Mark Forster (Chair)
    26 Oct 2019

    Activity: MembershipMembership of Advisory Panel

    Press / Media

    Pioneering automation in digital surveys

    Frédéric Bosché, Alan Mark Forster & Enrique Valero

    14/03/17

    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Research

    Digital Technology Helps Cultural Heritage Manage the impact o f Climate Change

    Frédéric Bosché, Alan Mark Forster, Enrique Valero, Lyn Wilson, Alick Leslie & Ewan Hyslop

    20/10/16

    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Research