UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


UCL ISH Guest Lecture 'Useful data: practical environmental survey for real built heritage projects'

16 February 2017, 5:45 pm–8:00 pm

Thermal images showing heat - Tobit Curteis

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UCL Institute for Sustainable Heirtage


G01, Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0NN

Tobit Curteis, Tobit Curteis Associates 'Useful data: practical environmental survey for real built heritage projects'


Understanding and controlling environmental deterioration is a key element of any successful conservation project involving historic buildings and collections. However, the nature and level of information required to effectively achieve this is often badly understood with poorly focused research being commissioned, resulting in data which does not answer the relevant questions. Indeed, in many cases the relevant questions are never fully defined. This situation is becoming increasingly common as the significance of building environment is now more widely recognised, particularly in built heritage, as an area which must be addressed, if the conservation project is to be successful. Both the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England are in the process of developing guidance for lay clients and conservation professionals to guide the decision-making process in commissioning the correct research for specific projects. In this lecture, Tobit Curteis will explore the issues involved in commissioning and undertaking this type of research to ensure that it is useful, practical and affordable for historic buildings and collections projects. Tobit will consider how to define the relevant questions, how to determine what type of research will most effectively answer them and how such information is usefully integrated into a complex building or development project.


Tobit Curteis trained in historic building environment and the conservation of wall paintings at the Courtauld Institute of Art, in conjunction with the Getty Conservation Institute. Since 1992 he has run a practice specialising in the diagnosis and control of environmental deterioration for historic buildings and collections, and the conservation of wall paintings.

He works in the UK and internationally for clients, including English Heritage, The National Trust, Historic Royal Palaces, The Office of Public Works in Ireland, Heritage Malta and the World Monument Fund. He is an external consultant for the Building Conservation and Research Team at Historic England and is the National Trust's Advisor on historic wall paintings. Recent projects include investigations into the environmental deterioration and control at Hampton Court Palace, Knole House, the cathedrals of Coventry, York, Durham, St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, and the Hypogeum Hal Saflini in Malta, as well as numerous domestic buildings and churches.

He is accredited by ICON, and is a fellow of the IIC, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a corresponding member of the Cathedral Architects Association. He is a member of the Fabric Advisory Committee for Rochester Cathedral and the Stained Glass Conservation Committee for the Church Buildings Council. 

© Image: 'Thermal images showing heat distribution and leakage' Tobit Curteis Associates 2017