The welcome news that London’s Grade II listed Battersea Power Station has been removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register is another reminder of the importance of preserving historic buildings. Built in 1929, the Power Station was decommissioned in 1983 and, after years of neglect, added to the Register in 1991. But after extensive… Read More
The importance of conserving Britain’s architectural heritage
The UK is home to some of the world’s best architecture, and we don’t just mean modern buildings. There are many stunning examples of architecture from centuries gone by. Everywhere you’ll find the hallmarks of our ancestors efforts to satisfy their needs, sustain life and express themselves. With more than one in five buildings in Britain pre-dating 1919, our historic environment is one of our most valuable assets. These buildings are so common that it’s easy for us to take them for granted without giving them a second thought. But without investing in architectural conservation, these buildings may not still be here in the future. Conservation maintains change to a historic building to sustain and enhance its significance for the quality of life it brings to us today and future generations.
Conservation of historic buildings
A historic building may look beautiful and have a past of historical, cultural or architectural interest. However, looking beautiful is not always enough if the building no longer fits the community’s needs or its owners. Older buildings can also be expensive to maintain, which is why many are knocked down for a modern, fit for purpose building to be put in its place. But with each old building that’s demolished, we lose another connection to our history.
Regeneration is an important element of conserving our architectural heritage. It gives a new lease of life to old buildings and ensures their continued re-use, which is in all of our interests. It allows current and future generations to experience and benefit from the physical expression of past generations.
Why architectural conservation is important
Architectural conservation is becoming extremely important in preserving our historic buildings. Put simply, it’s about restoring old and historic buildings using appropriate methods and materials to preserve the building. It is essentially about making the best of the buildings we already have. Heritage building conservation enables people to restore these buildings while at the same time bringing them into the 21st century. Building conservation aims to restore the cultural heritage while also adding value to the building and its surroundings. A specialist team can create designs that will maintain the integrity of and design of the building but make it fit for modern use.
There are also important economic benefits to urban heritage conservation. Britain has a rich history, and it’s this heritage that helps bring tourism to the country. Many of our monuments, buildings, stately homes, castles, churches, and cathedrals are famous worldwide and helped make Britain a world-class destination for its built heritage. Tourism in England alone contributes an astonishing £106 billion to the British economy and provides 2.6 million jobs. While heritage conservation draws tourism to our towns and cities, it also helps businesses attract customers and keep the local economy moving.
Through architectural conservation, we can recognise the great artistic achievements and the craftsmanship that has gone into the building. In our changing world that relies heavily on technological innovations, these buildings have an enormous cultural significance that we often only recognise when they are put under threat or lost entirely from our landscape.
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