UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


UCL ISH February Guest Lecture 'Research into Practice'

15 February 2018, 5:45 pm–8:00 pm

The Graduate School QUB

On Thursday 15 February, UCL ISH will be hosting a Guest Lecture to be delivered by Dawson Stelfox, Director of Consarc Conservation Architects.

Event Information

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UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


G01, Central House, University College London, 14 Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0NN


Good built heritage conservation practice has evolved from trial and error over centuries, but a changing climate with more intense rainfall is challenging long established practices and, particularly in the west and north of Britain and Ireland, there are increasing reports of damp penetrating through historic masonry. In the last ten years there has been considerable research on moisture movement through masonry walls and understanding is increasing, but this is only slowly filtering through to the building site, and the industry is poor at sharing learning experiences from failures and problems.

This seminar explores the links between university based research into moisture movement through historic masonry, the role of the statutory bodies in disseminating good practice and the challenges for architects and engineers responsible for the conservation and repair of historic fabric. The focus will be on a number of case studies where research and study has played an important part in developing good practice, and some where challenges remain to find practical solutions to an increasing problem, as the climate changes.


Dawson Stelfox is an accredited conservation architect and Director of Consarc Conservation Architects, based in Belfast but working throughout Britain and Ireland. He is a former Chair of the RIBA Conservation Accreditation Steering Group and a former President of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects.

Consarc has a 30 year track record in award winning conservation projects and have been acting as the industry partner on a number of university research projects for over 20 years – through Queen’s University Belfast, UCL and Oxford University. They have completed two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and from one of these Dr Joanne Curran, a geologist, joined the practice and set up a specialist consultancy, Stone Conservation Services, bridging the gap between research and site practice. Together with QUB, Consarc jointly wrote and published a handbook on stone conservation – ‘Stone by Stone’ and a number of other papers, posters and educational material. Consarc are currently acting as the industry partner on a PhD thesis on ‘Wet Walls’ with Scott Allan Orr, with Historic Environment Scotland and Oxford University, and one of their recent projects, the restoration of New College for the University of Edinburgh, was used as a testbed for moisture measuring technologies.