Looking to the Future, Caring for the Past
Copyright © 2014 Conservation Architects
Conservation Architects shortlisted for the 2016 Church Architecture Awards - reordering, extensions or alterations to existing church buildings.
Does your church need urgent roof repairs? If so there is a new round of government grants available, but applications must be in by the February.
August - September 2014
Ashley House is the home of Conservation Architects, it is in Grove Street right next to Wantage town centre. It appears to be a three storey double fronted Georgian town house, however within its walls are the remains of a late 17th century timber framed building and half of the frontage was built around 1900. Like many old properties it has been subject to change and development, adapting to different living standards. More can be read about this property in some of the very good local history publications.
The main work carried out was repointing in lime to the chimneys and frontage, involving the careful matching of the mortar to existing and the replacement and turning around of very eroded bricks. The result was a much improved frontage but it appeared as if nothing had been done!
The other work carried out was to the sash windows, these had become very tatty, rattly and drafty. Despite this they were in structurally good order with lovely original glass; to replace them would be an absolute crime, but how do you deal with the real issues of heat loss and maintenance in windows like this?
Sash windows are made to be serviced, it is expected that they be periodically taken apart and redecorated and repaired as required. In this instance a couple of the oak sills needed to be replaced and all windows needed repainting inside and out. This involved scaffolding the whole front to gain proper access, however this was also needed for the chimney repairs. The results were very good visually, but the windows were still a bit drafty and during cold spells condensation collected on the cold glass surface. The solution was secondary glazing, something I dislike greatly as I think it is generally ugly. The type used in Ashley house is an acrylic sheet held on by a white magnetic strip, the idea is that you remove the panels in the summer. Though not a perfect solution these panels are almost invisible, they stop drafts 100%, reduce sound transfer and condensation drastically, meaning the windows stay clean and mould free. I highly recommend this solution, but bear in mind they will need to be stored in the summer and being acrylic, will scratch if care is not taken.
On a recent visit to Ribe (Denmarks oldest city) I had the privilege of being able to spend some time in the beautiful cathedral of Our Lady Maria. Built in the Romanesque style with half-rounded arches supporting a flat timber ceiling, it is a typical basilica style building. Both inside and out the building has many inspiring features, lovely old and new joinery as well as colourful mixes of different materials.