Building conservation philosophy for masonry repair: Part 1 - "ethics"

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    Purpose: The techniques available for the repair of historic masonry structures are extremely wide ranging. The advantages and disadvantages of each type of repair can be evaluated in terms of cost, time and quality as with modern projects. It is however, important to realise that when repairs to historic buildings are selected they must conform to building conservation philosophy, or an ethical and principle based evaluation. This paper (part 1 of 2) aims to establish what is meant by ethics in this context and wherever possible seeks to apply practical examples to these concepts. Design/methodology/approach: The paper takes the form of an evaluative literature review of the ethics encapsulated within building conservation philosophy utilising them to stimulate discussion on practical repair interventions. Findings: It is shown that ethical considerations are of prime importance for decisions relating to masonry repairs. These repairs have varying degrees of defensibility, and will ultimately lead to good or bad conservation approaches. The paper briefly discusses the ethics, highlighting some of the issues that may be initially confusing to the practitioner. Research limitations/implications: It must be emphasised that as with any aspect of philosophy, there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer, only higher levels of defence for the selected repairs. Originality/value: The evaluation of building conservation philosophy and more specifically, ethical considerations for masonry repair has been little studied. The importance of this undervalued aspect of building conservation cannot be over emphasised and far from being an esoteric concept, it affects every practical repair. This paper brings together the study of the philosophical and practical, enabling practitioners to better understand the implications of building conservation philosophy on their projects. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)91-107
    Number of pages17
    JournalStructural Survey
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • Building conservation
    • Ethics
    • Philosophy
    • Stone


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