UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


Conservation challenges of modern architecture and materials

01 April 2021, 5:30 pm–6:30 pm

Photo of modern steel construction in bright orange

Join us for a virtual guest lecture with Prof Uta Pottgiesser, Chair of Heritage & Technology at TU Delft.

Event Information

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UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage

About this lecture

Approximately 80% of our total building stock dates from the 20th century. The use of new materials, constructions and buildings elements, permitted to reach innovative design solutions considered part of our cultural heritage.

At the same time, this materiality creates challenges such as the lack of recognition for its values (material and immaterial), the existence of knowledge gaps regarding adequate conservation techniques or the reluctance to apply suitable rehabilitation methodologies. These issues were reflected in The New Madrid-Delhi-Document (ICOMOS, 2017). 

Despite the growing appreciation of modern architecture, this part of the built heritage is facing the urgent need to address the adverse effects of climate change and resource scarcity, often more than the older building stock. Accomplishing this goal will require to transform the majority of existing modern buildings from being rather energy-inefficient to having nearly net-zero energy use.
Efforts to preserve or improve the modern building stock have lately been at the forefront of real estate and historic preservation debates about the future of these assemblies in the metropolitan marketplace for high-performance buildings. There is an urgent need to outline evidence-based and applicable recommendations and set forth professional best practices to guide interventions.

Virtual event details

This virtual lecture will consist of a 45 minute presentation from Prof Uta Pottgiesser, followed by a 15 minute Q&A chaired by Dr Josep Grau-Bove

About the speaker

Uta Pottgiesser studied architecture at TU Berlin (1984-91) and is a licensed architect (1993). She obtained her PhD (Dr.-Ing.) on Multi-layered Glass Constructions. Energy and Construction at TU Dresden (2002), both in Germany. She is Professor of Building Construction and Materials at Detmold School of Architecture and Interior Architecture (Germany) since 2004 where she also served as vice-president (2006–2011) and dean (2012–2016). She was appointed Professor of Interior Architecture at Faculty of Design Sciences, University of Antwerp, Belgium from 2016–2019. Since 2018 she is also Chair of Heritage & Technology at TU Delft in the Netherlands. 
As an architect and academic she is concerned with the protection, reuse and conservation of the built heritage and environment, in particular modern heritage. Since 2016 she serves as vice-chair of DOCOMOMO Germany and as chair of the DOCOMOMO International Specialist Committee of Technology (ISC/T). She researches, teaches and lectures internationally and is a reviewer for international journals and (co-) author of several publications with a focus on building construction and built heritage and is a member of the Advisory Board of the European 4CH-project aiming to establish a Competence Centre on the Conservation of Cultural Heritage.
See the newest publication and a tool developed with TU Delft to which I will refer in my lecture:

Reglazing Modernism

The use of building envelopes in steel and glass is one of the characteristic features of modern architecture worldwide. Many of these pre- and post-war buildings suffer from severe defects in the building fabric which necessitate measures to preserve the buildings. Using a selection of 20 iconic buildings in Europe and the USA, the book documents the current technological status of the three most common strategies used today: restoration, rehabilitation, and replacement. The buildings include Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright, Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Fagus Factory and Bauhaus Building by Walter Gropius. (https://www.degruyter.com/view/product/513352)

Monument Diagnosis and Conservation System (MDCS) 

The online damage-expert for monumental buildings is an interactive support tool for the inventory and evaluation of damage to monumental buildings. During visual inspections MCDS helps to identify the types of materials and the types of damage. Based on the damage types found, hypotheses on possible causes are suggested. (https://mdcs.monumentenkennis.nl/)