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Core curriculum topic: Building conservation and heritage

To help you gain the skills you need to practise architecture now and in the future as a RIBA Chartered Member, we have defined 10 mandatory core curriculum topics to address through CPD.

The topic Building conservation and heritage covers understanding the legislative framework and principles of conservation practice. It also includes having the right knowledge, skills and techniques, or access to the right specialists, to work on conservation (repair and maintenance) projects and historic or listed buildings and places.

Building Conservation and Heritage

Please note that some of these topics are more relevant to accredited conservation professionals and crafts people.
This competency potentially covers:

Background and context: understanding of

  • Historic Assets (buildings, areas, monuments, gardens and parks, whether designated yet or not), their settings, contents and contexts, along with any implications for potential conservation treatments and interventions.
  • Designations
  • National and international organisations and charters
  • How professional, client and other stakeholder relationships should function
  • ICOMOS guidelines
  • Common conservation terms
  • The repair, alteration/extension, refurbishment and management of historic assets

Legislation and published governmental and other guidance

  • Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990
  • BS7913: 2013
  • NPPF and government policy
  • Assets of Community Value
  • Special considerations in the application of approved documents (including Building Regulations)
  • The Equality Act
  • Fire safety strategy and legislation
  • Statutory consents, requirements and processes
  • Enabling Development and the Conservation of Heritage Assets
  • UNESCO conventions and recommendations
  • The Venice Charter & The Burra Charter
  • Guidelines for Education and Training in the Conservation of Monuments, Ensembles and Sites (1993)

Significance: understanding of

  • Historical significance (based on many factors including quality, rarity, condition etc.)
  • Social, cultural and emotional significance
  • Architectural and aesthetic significance
  • Constructing a conservation plan which takes into account the historical significance of the project
  • Researching the historic development of a building and its setting using both observational techniques and archival sources
  • New designs in designated and historic contexts

Making judgments and collaboration: ability to

  • Make balanced judgements based on shared ethical principles
  • Accept responsibility for the long-term welfare of cultural heritage
  • Recognise when advice must be sought by different specialists
  • Give expert advice on maintenance strategies, management policies, and the policy framework for environmental monitoring, protection and preservation
  • Ensure that all conservation work is documented in detail to ensure an informative and accessible timeline of all work done
  • Work in multi-disciplinary groups using sound methods
  • Work, consult and collaborate with inhabitants, administrators and planners to resolve conflicts and to develop conservation strategies appropriate to local needs, abilities and resources

Reading and understanding a monument: ability to

  • Read a monument, ensemble or site
  • Identify its emotional, cultural and use significance for contemporary users and beneficiaries of such
  • Understand the history and technology of a site in order to define its identity and plan for its conservation
  • Interpret the results of this research for existing communities
  • Understand the setting in relation to other buildings, gardens or landscapes
  • Find and absorb all available sources of relevant information
  • Provide accessible, informative resources for wide dissemination to a non-expert audience

International and historic context: understanding of

  • Various historic periods, their defining styles and technologies, and their historic, social and cultural impacts (ranging from the ancient to the contemporary)
  • Where knowledge is lacking and where advice must be sought from different specialists

Surveys and investigations: understanding of

  • Site surveys
  • Invasive and non-invasive analysis
  • Destructive and non-destructive analysis
  • Recording, documentation and communication
  • Reading the building
  • Determining and understanding defects and causes of decay
  • Understanding defects and behaviours of various materials
  • Approaches to repair and conservation techniques
  • Use of hydroscopic or vapour permeable mortars
  • Cleaning historic buildings

Materials: understanding of

  • The potential impacts (visual, physical, biological, environmental, chemical) of the introduction of new materials to an existing building/site/monument.
  • The performance characteristics of pre-industrial and industrially produced materials
  • The conservation of stonework, brickwork, timber and concrete
  • Thermal upgrade of listed buildings, buildings in conservation areas, and unprotected buildings of traditional construction, including the use of insulation, appropriate window upgrades
  • Vapour permeable materials

Conservation strategy: understanding of

  • Grants, funds and funding organisations
  • Climate change and special considerations applicable to the historic environment
  • Implementation and management of conservation works
  • Procurement and contract administration
  • The value of specialist accreditation in conservation, particularly as a conservation architect

Links to further information


CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)

APM (Association for Project Management)

Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Business in the Community (BITC)

Institute of Directors (IoD)

Chambers of Commerce

Federation of Small Businesses

The Freelancer and Contractor Services Association

The Creative Industries Federation

British Library Business and Intellectual Property Centre

Find CPD on this topic

You must take two hours of CPD on this topic every year.

Find RIBA accredited CPD on Building conservation and heritage through RIBA Academy.

Related courses include:

Find related CPD offered by our partners on the CPD Providers Network.

Podcasts, videos, articles, and other offers can also contribute towards your CPD requirements.

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