What are we up to?

/ Iain King / Conservation

Our Monday morning meeting is a chance to share new thinking and debate the viability of new ideas, but it is also a forum to reflect on where we are and what we are doing.

Continuing Professional Development is the rather prosaic title given to the formal learning we undertake as professionals, as distinct from the knowledge we intuitively absorb ‘on the job’. It sounds like a chore – something we are obliged to do but take little pleasure from – and whilst that is sometimes the case, more often it can be a revelation, unlocking new corners of potential as we learn about new research, legislation and theory, as well as old ideas that have largely been forgotten. It forms an integral part of our working life, as we attempt to keep tabs on the ever changing landscape of legislation and best practice.

Nowhere is this truer than in Conservation , a practice so rooted in the past but subject to a constantly evolving understanding of what might be appropriate in any given situation. The word ‘might’ is used advisedly, as hard truths in this area are often hard to come by. Balanced opinion based on sound, demonstrable reasoning is often as good as it gets and experience, therefore, is our greatest asset.

Knowing where to look can be the biggest hurdle. There is a wealth of information out there, but if you don’t know where to begin your search then it may as well not exist. Others who have been there already, who have faced similar challenges and found an appropriate way of dealing with them, can add layers to what we already know.

We rely, to some degree, on those who are prepared to share this information, and so it is incumbent on us to share the specific knowledge that we have gained through our substantial catalogue of projects with historic buildings and environments. Communication, a recurring theme in all of our Monday morning meetings, is at the heart of it; discussing and sharing ideas.

The Glasgow School of Art building has been an education in itself as our team painstakingly pick through the remains of the fire so that the catastrophic destruction of Glasgow’s jewel might not have been in vain. For many of us the building seems as old as the city itself; a relic of a bygone age, but a more tempered, refined one that still holds a few secrets. More archaeology than architecture in some respects, for now anyway, we ever have one sooty ear against its charred walls, tape measure in one hand and notepad in the other, listening carefully.