Heritage buildings cannot be mothballed and become museum pieces - As some building uses cease or decline we need to find new and viable uses to keep these heritage buildings as active and vibrant places that are sustained into the future.

These new uses and upgrades must be undertaken sensitively to retain the values and significant aspects of our heritage places. Sensitive reuse should include consideration of new uses that are a good fit with an existing building to maximise retention of existing heritage fabric and enable new services and technologies to be added.

As Conrad Gargett celebrates 125 years of practice with a legacy of a vast body of work we also reflect on what makes for good practice in heritage conservation. Our heritage and adaptive reuse team of around 15 includes expertise for the full spectrum of heritage practice; conservation planning, providing high level advice to guide conservation process and approvals as well as expertise in the physical building conservation and reuse process.

Best heritage practice requires following a proper and rigorous process. This includes guidance using best practice heritage philosophy and by conservation plans and protocols.

The key to a successful project outcome is to take the time to understand a place – both its history and its physical fabric (to understand how the place was as built and what changes have been made during the life of a building). This process can then inform how best to conserve and reuse a place – which parts are of very high value and should be protected and which parts are less important and can be altered, changed or removed.

Best practice conservation work requires the using trades with appropriate skills as well as the specification of appropriate materials and products. Building owners are looking for affordable solutions that also offer longievity to reduce future maintenance costs.

Some of the key challenges for heritage projects include adding new services and technologies in a sensitive way. Equitable access can also create great challenges and required innovative solutions to be done sensitively.

As we advance into the digital age at high speed our need for connection to place and memory becomes more of an imperative. Heritage buildings provide these anchors to place and memory – they are conduits to our collective past and shared culture.

The challenge for building owners and heritage practitioners is to keep these places occupied, vibrant and commercially viable. 

READ: David Gole’s feature in Infolink | BPN Magazine here




David Gole
Principal and Senior Heritage Architect
Conrad Gargett