/ Justin Fenton / Conservation

"to take effective shape, come into existence". There is no greater thrill than to see what has been conceived and drawn become reality on the ground. Where once was empty space becomes new form and enclosure, redefining at that point in time our relationship with that environment.

An even greater challenge is the realisation of our conceptions in already important environments whether buildings or landscapes. Here an extra and particularly onerous obligation is placed on us not to damage that setting and indirectly the imagination that created it.

We are helped here by processes established to build a common understanding of these special environments and the imaginations that shaped it. The now widely accepted ‘Statement of Significance’ and associated ‘Conservation Management Plan’ are a method to determine and share a broad understanding of the present and future importance of the legacy of a setting.

We reviewed three projects which were informed by these methods. Firstly, at Fettes where a broad range of projects in the setting of the existing school and its landscape have been resolved in a twin track approach, with a prosaic architectural language at the periphery and an elaborated response closer to the existing building. Secondly, at Fairfield, the former shipyard offices, with its juxtaposition of the plain and austere with the embellished and ornate. Finally, at Fairmaids House in Perth where the retained intimacy of the existing house now coexists with a modern rear pavilion.

Looking more broadly there appears to be a growing case to develop such methods of analysis for any and all settings. It is worth asking the question whether in our increasingly fragile world, is there any setting that justifies exclusion from such consideration?

Dalmeny House 4th Girls Boarding House, Fettes College