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Senior Cycle Construction Studies A guide to teaching the built heritage in your locality

Noel Frawley

Completed as a Final Year Project B.Tech (ED) in Materials & Architectural Technology

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Table of Contents: Section One - Guide Overview









Structure of guide



Key Skills obtained



Unit 1 – Introductory lesson



Unit 2 – Class trip



Unit 3 – Recap lesson & Conservation



Unit 4 – Conservation of buildings & Exam questions



Unit 5 – Individual research of a local heritage building



Student workbook



Exemplar Guide





Section 2 - Units of Study


Unit 1

Introductory lesson


Unit 2

Class trip


Unit 3

Recap lesson & Conservation


Unit 4

Conservation of buildings & Exam questions


Unit 5

Individual research of a local heritage building


Further Study


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Section one – Guide Overview:

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Recent Chief Examiners reports by the State Examinations Commission have outlined the lack of attention our built heritage receives in Construction Studies. This has been indicated by the low level of students undertaking a heritage based Leaving Cert project. However by neglecting such a unique topic we are depriving students of the opportunity to experience the efforts made by our previous generations. This booklet aims to guide teachers through five prescribed units. In addition there is an exemplar booklet to assist the teaching of the topic. This guide contains key questions at various parts of lessons which should be asked in order to develop student’s appreciation of the built heritage. Unit two is a class trip to a local heritage building. Subsequently the guide will need adjustment to match the building under exploration. It is expected that the overall structure and most of the content can be used despite the building under exploration. In particular the aims and objectives of the lessons should be considered. There are PowerPoint presentations attached with each unit, some of which have vacancies for the inclusion of the built heritage from your locality. In order to further assist teachers in covering the topic a website is part of this project. The website aims to act as a further resource where teachers can promote students independent learning. This could be used if the necessary content is not covered in class sufficiently.



This ‘option taster’ aims to provide students with an insight into Ireland’s rich architectural heritage with the key emphasis being on their local heritage. The taster emphasizes exploration for learning where students are expected to leave the classroom setting and report their findings. On completion it is expected there will be an increase in the number of students undertaking a heritage related project.


Structure of Guide:

Unit 1 – Introductory lesson

Unit 2 – Class Trip

Unit 3 – Recap & conservation introduction

Unit 4 – Conservation of traditional stone walls

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Unit 5 – Individual site visit


Key skills obtained:

Construction Studies requires a diverse range of skills for both the theory and practical aspects of the subject. In this guide there is the potential to include many of these skills. By promoting such skills at an early stage of 4th year the improvement will be obvious at exam/project completion. The skills of the guide include: 

Sketching – proportion, shading, rendering, correct use of colour

Concise notes and annotations


Building exploration

Data collection and analysis

Report writing

ICT – Microsoft word and/or PowerPoint

Creating a Blog

Along with the cognitive and psychomotor skills outlined the guide also contributes greatly to student’s affective domain:


Recognising the significance of their local built heritage

Working with others while exploring their built heritage

Communicating data to other groups and to the class

Gaining an appreciation of history and culture embedded in our historic structures.

Unit 1 – Introductory lesson:

The built heritage is primarily introduced to students at the beginning of 4th year; consequently students will have little knowledge of construction materials and processes. Some students possibly have on-site experience as a result of a summer job/family connections. Students will have recognised ‘old buildings’ in their locality and will refer to these buildings as structures with historical significance. The type of architectural heritage students will have experienced depends on the locality of the school. For example Vernacular Architecture in Exploring the heritage in your locality

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the west of Ireland differs in design to that in the east due to the prevalent winds that exist. These differences will occur throughout the country. This lesson will depend greatly on the locality of the school. For example if the class trip is based on Vernacular Architecture teachers should incorporate an insight into another type of built heritage also, fortified buildings for example. As stated previously in the document Vernacular Architecture is the most common category examined so ensure that category is completed.

Unit 2 – Class Trip :


This unit is arguably the most important aspect of the taster. By encouraging students to leave the classroom setting and explore for learning at this stage we are developing students awareness of real life examples of the subject content. Construction Studies is fortunate to have the ability to incorporate such examples into the lessons. More importantly this trip will help instil an appreciation of historic buildings into students which is one of the main aims of this guide. This guide promotes the use of group work during the class trip. Groups will be given a specific task to which they can explore and bring data back into the classroom.

Unit 3 – Recap & Conservation Introduction:


The recap lesson provides students with the opportunity to share their information with the rest of the class. During the class trip different groups would have received different tasks in order to provide focus. Now it is time to share the information. There are many different ways in which the information can be shared from two minute group presentations to simply photocopying data and distributing it. However it is encouraged the following there methods are considered and one selected: 

Make a class blog where each group has access

Each group makes a poster & which are put up around the room

Create a class report on the building using Microsoft word/PowerPoint

This lesson also provides students with an insight into conservation principles and the importance of the traditional sash window.

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Unit 4 – Conservation of Traditional walls:

Conservation and maintenance of buildings is amongst the most popular areas of the heritage sector today. The Heritage Council was set up in 1997 with a key aim to maintaining Ireland’s heritage for future generations. The council provides grants as an initiative to conserve such structures. A prime example is the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) grant set up in conjugation with the Department of Agriculture. The aim of the scheme is to repair and conserve traditional farm buildings. This lesson further promotes heritage conservation with the focus being on traditional stone walls. While all this exploration for learning is very pleasing we must not lose sight of the Leaving Certificate. The majority of students are completing the subject with a view to proceeding to further education. Completing 2 exam question based on the topic of built heritage will not only act as a recap but will begin to get students focused on exam format and technique.


Unit 5 – Individual research of a heritage building:

Up to this point students have attained sufficient knowledge which allows them to successfully explore a heritage building. It should be encouraged to instruct students to research a building individually. A site visit is not absolutely necessary as there is a vast amount of information available on line. However where possible a site visit and perhaps an interview of the home owner should be encouraged. Students will complete this unit in their own time – the deadline being first class after the Halloween break. This will allow students sufficient time and opportunity to ask the teacher questions relating to the building or problems occurring. Each student should complete a report either neatly hand written or typed on Microsoft word. It must be stressed that students are not expected to allocated large amounts of time to this unit, simply enough to gain sufficient data. This unit will solidify student’s value and interest in their local built heritage and further influence their decision in taking option (iii) for the coursework.


Student workbook:

A student work book also exists with this guide. The workbook corresponds with the lessons outlined. The workbook is in A5 format. Similar to the PowerPoint Presentation the workbook also has vacancies for the incorporation of the student’s local built heritage.

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An exemplar guide is also part of this teaching package and it should help in providing teachers and students with a further insight into the completion of the prescribed units.



In order to further assist teachers in covering the topic a website is part of this project. The website aims to act as a further resource where teachers can promote students independent learning. This could be used if the necessary content is not covered in class sufficiently. The website contains an exemplar class trip which teacher can direct students towards for guidance before/during/after respective units. Students have the potential to access this website on their smart phone by using the QR code embedded in their workbook.

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Section two – Units of Study:

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Unit 1 – Introductory lesson Aim(s):

To introduce students to the topic of the Built Heritage

To develop students appreciation for the significance of the Built Heritage in their locality


Students will: 

Compare & contrast different forms of architectural heritage highlighting differences, advantages and disadvantages.

Complete worksheets 1 & 2 (which depend on the architecture discussed)

Recognise the significance of the Built heritage by establishing the history associated with respective buildings in their locality

Length of

Single class : 35 – 40 minutes approximately


Subject matter 

Recognising a heritage building

The importance of the built heritage

Heritage council (in brief)

Local built heritage

Type of architecture different from that of the class trip

Hand out prior to class trip (varies according to building under exploration)

Lesson Resources: 

PowerPoint Presentation containing images of heritage buildings (including local buildings)

Models of buildings is encouraged

Building(s) history from locality

Worksheet 1 & 2

Handout prior to class trip.

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Unit 1 – Introductory lesson Teacher strategies/Class activities: 

Direct instruction – highly teacher led through specific questions which lead discussions but very student active

Students complete worksheets at specific stages

Visual as possible

Organisation of lesson: Lesson principles: 

Set a challenging goal

Provide feedback towards this

Provide feedback on the extent to which students have met this goal

Introduction – set learning goals: At the start of each lesson it is advised to set the learning goals. This provides students with focus as to what the lesson involves. Stating the goals also encourages students to think about prior knowledge related to the content. On completion of this lesson students will be able to (provide a brief explanation as to what each goal involves): 

Explain and evaluate the importance of our built heritage Our built heritage relates to historic structures. You will be able to explain how valuable they are in terms of history, architectural style, tourism etc.

Differentiate between built heritage categories Many forms of architectural styles exist from castles to thatched cottages. You will be able to explain differences.

Describe the historical importance of In the double lesson we will visit

to the locality. . By the end of the lesson you will be able

to explain its importance to the locality in terms of the past and present. The questions outlined throughout are vital to developing student’s appreciation and awareness of the built heritage so their inclusion is advised.

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Unit 1 – Introductory lesson continued... Key Question

What does the word heritage mean?

Teacher instruction: Ask students for their interpretation of the word Heritage. Write down responses on the board, PowerPoint or students copies. Develop a definition for heritage with the students. Develop a personal value. Key points of answer: 

Our heritage are things/objects/belongings passed on by previous generations

These range from houses, farms, sites, personal belongings and so on.

Our predecessors pass on such belongings as they trust us to provide care and value towards them.

It is very difficult to sell an inherited item as it is of personal value.

Key Question

Therefore what does Built Heritage mean?

Teacher instruction: Ask students to write down their definition of the built heritage. Circulate and provide feedback on answers. Provide definition of the built heritage from sources such as the Heritage council. Students can correct their definition accordingly. Key points of definition: 

‘By conserving our historic buildings we help to preserve them for future generations to enjoy as part of their heritage, just as we do now’. (Heritage Council)

We have a duty of care to educate ourselves about these structures in order to ensure they are correctly cared for

Our built heritage refers to the buildings and structures left to us by our previous generations. These structures include churches, castles, cottages and historical monuments. In this unit we will be focusing on heritage buildings.

Recognising a heritage building: Key Question

What defines a heritage building? NOTE: A heritage building is not simply an old building!

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Unit 1 – Introductory lesson continued... Teacher instruction: Most students will respond to the above question by saying ‘an old building’. This is not necessarily true as some old buildings could be a safety hazard or a poor example. Investigate student’s experiences about protected buildings which must be maintained. Perhaps a heritage building was the focal point associated with a recent development. E.g. a heritage building might have obstructed the development of a new building. Builders and investors wanted to demolish the heritage building but organisations such as the heritage council and local residents objected. Whilst discussing the factors with the class instruct students to identify possible heritage buildings in the locality. Provide feedback as required. The following factors should be considered when recognising a heritage building. (These stages are provided on PowerPoint). Often people perceive old buildings to be a significant part of our built heritage. However this perception is incorrect as some old buildings have no history attached. In general there are four factors which determine if a building is part of our built heritage: 1. History 2. Architecture 3. Integrity 4. Environment 1. History: What people/group of people lived in the building and what was their occupation? The more famous or well known the occupants of the building the more potential the building has regarding historical stories or information. If a person is well known within a local community people will always have stories to tell. The likelihood is that these famous people would have influenced the community by perhaps making significant contributions either financially or otherwise. What key historic events are linked with the building? Famous historical buildings often gain their significance due to their association with a particular event. A well known example is the General Post Office in Dublin as it had a direct link with the 1916 Easter rising and it was from her the Proclamation of Independence Exploring the heritage in your locality

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Unit 1 – Introductory lesson continued... was read by Patrick Pearse. Other factors to be considered would be the signing of a significant document or a meeting between famous people. Does the building link with the historical development in the community? Often buildings illustrate a significant historical development such as local agriculture, transportation or social factors. 2. Architecture: When was the building constructed? What particular period? The date at which the building was constructed is a huge factor in determining its significance. It does not simply provide the age but gives an indication of the architectural styles used. For example the medieval period (eleventh and twelfth century) is best illustrated by the Romanesque style whereas building from the 17th century are typically associated with that of Vernacular architecture. Did a famous designer have any influence on the building? Different designers pose different architectural styles. They posses different knowledge of building materials and construction processes. When a building was designed by a trained architect it may be possible to analyse the style used. A building could be an architectural style common to the community and its surroundings. 3. Integrity: Has the building maintained its original state? Historic buildings have been passed down through generations. It is fair to say that the current generation may not appreciate the Architectural significance of these buildings as much as previous generations. Also the fact that these buildings could have been sold and are currently not in the family name is an issue. All over the country there are examples where the character of the original structure was not maintained. Extensions have been built, paint applied or original windows replaced. It is these adjustments that influence the buildings historical significance.

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Unit 1 – Introductory lesson continued... Has the building evolved in terms of function? Over the years buildings evolve in order to meet functional requirements. In many cases throughout the country the function has changed but the character of the building has been maintained. However many buildings originality have been seriously affected by a change in function. 4. Environment: Often a building will be similar to other buildings in the community.

Studnet task

Complete worksheet 1 (provided on PP)

Teacher instruction: provide feedback which guides students to achieving the goal of the task and further feedback on how they have/have not achieved the goal. Types of built heritage: Aim to include two categories of Architectural heritage into the lesson. One of these will be the building selected for the class trip following this lesson. Remember vernacular architecture is a common heritage exam question so don’t leave that category out. Key categories include: 

Vernacular Architecture

Fortified Architecture

Religious Buildings

Key point: If the locality of the school occupies a different form of architecture apply it the option taster. This is local heritage driven. Select one type from the list above for this section of the lesson which will be followed by an introduction of the building being used for the class trip. The section only lasts ten minutes so concise teaching points are necessary.

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Unit 1 – Introductory lesson continued... Hand out prior to class trip: Exploring the heritage in your local community involves two key stages. Firstly it is necessary to examine and investigate the buildings history which should be followed by a detailed exploration of the building itself. As a teacher it would be a good idea to examine one or two buildings in your locality in terms of its history and background. This is the information students should be provided with prior to the class trip. Often it is necessary to make a trip to the library or local studies to receive valuable information, records and pictures. Interviewing people who had a connection with the building is also a valuable means of gathering information and data. Prior to the class trip a handout for homework would suffice. The following key points should be considered when making the handout: General History and Background: 

Who built it? – a collective effort by local people, trained builders, trained architects, famous architects,

When was it built? – finding the age of the building allows us to distinguish the architectural style. E.g. 17th century onward included vernacular houses while Georgian architecture dates from the 18th century onward.

What was the purpose of the building? Has the function changed over the years?

What historic events linked with the building? Did any famous people visit/use the building? – linked with any particular periods of history, famine, world war etc.

Does the building link with the historic development of the area or the surrounding areas? - transport links, social aspect, agriculture

Environment: 

How does the building blend into its surroundings? – perhaps the building blends seamlessly into the landscape such as rural thatched cottages, maybe the building stands out as it is a formal estate.

Does the building link with other buildings in the locality? – townhouses often share similar characteristics

What is the architectural style? – e.g. Vernacular, Georgian etc – the age, location and features of the building will help determine this.

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Unit 1 – Continued... In order to increase the educational value of the class trip and provide structure it would be advised to provide groups of students with specific tasks. This would insure all the key information is obtained and can be shared in class. Also this approach provides students with a focus from the start of the trip immediately when they arrive on site. Some key points to consider: 

It could be worthwhile identifying student’s strengths prior to assigning groups with a task. For example if a certain amount of students study art it would be worth providing them a sketching task. Perhaps incorporate 1-2 students (depending on the group size) who need to develop their sketching skills. This would help develop the educational value of the trip.

Similarly students who study Design and Communication Graphics or who have studied Technical Graphics could be given the task of sketching the orthographic views of the building.

Other students might possess up-to-date technology such as an I-phone who subsequently could be instructed to take pictures and videos out on site.

Typically a Construction Studies class will consist of 20-24 students so groups of 3 would be ideal.

Providing groups with a very manageable task with the view to completing it to a high standard should be considered.

Studnet task

Complete worksheet 2 (Based on types of Architecture Covered )

Recap Questions: Teacher Instruction: ask recap questions. Circulate the room aiming to engage as many students as possible. Provide feedback on answers. 

Define the term ‘Built Heritage’.

 Based on the criteria outlined in the lesson identify a heritage building in the locality.  Why is this building deemed heritage? Evaluate its significance.

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Unit 2 – Class trip: Note: The following is a guide for the class trip. It is expected the outlined aims are considered, in particular developing students appreciation towards our built heritage (affective domain). The guide may need to be adjustment depending on the building under exploration. Some buildings may have a deep history while others may have complex features such as columns and arches. Adjust as you see fit. Aim(s): 

To develop students positive attitudes and appreciation towards their architectural heritage in their local community.

To enable students to evaluate significance, both past and present, of the building to the local community

To further develop students knowledge of the construction details/features of architectural heritage


Students will: 

Demonstrate exploration skills through sketching, photography, taking notes and working in groups.

Work in groups to explore the history and significance of the building, exploring beyond the physical structure through the use of imagination.

Recognise the importance of the built heritage to the cultural history of their community

Evaluate the significance of the castle in terms of its past and present influence on the local community.

Interview home owner/tour guide if possible

Length of

Complete over a double lesson or two lessons either side of side time.


Approx time -20 minutes travelling – 1 hour exploring building – 20 minutes return.

Subject matter 

Buildings historical significance to the cultural history of the community

Architectural style and features of the building

Construction details and materials of the building

Building and it’s immediate surroundings

Link between building and other structures in the locality

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Unit 2 – Continued... Lesson Resources: 

Sketch pad

Phone capable of taking photos and videos with a sufficient amount of battery!

Sketching equipment (2B pencil, eraser, ruler)

Any other material which you deem appropriate for your assigned task (e.g voice recorder if available for interviews)

Teacher strategies/Class activities: 

Group work –groups of three/four are assigned a particular task

High level of discussion is encouraged amongst groups as they should compare and contrast obtained date.

Teacher should circulate site and provide feedback to groups on sketches, photos and videos. Explain how to improve certain areas for next site visit.

Class discussion at the end of trip as recap.

Organisation of lesson: 

Firstly provide class with an overall tour of the building evaluating the features, history and aim to gain a sense of culture. This will be conducted by the tour guide/homeowner/teacher.

Instruct students to assemble into groups and begin task

Circulate throughout and provide assistance if necessary

Provide feedback to groups throughout which will assist them in achieving their task.

Recap: Provide questions related to the assigned task asking different groups for information obtained. Sample questions may include: 

How does the building contribute to the culture of our community?

What key historic events/dates/people are associated with the building?

What are the main features of the building?

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Unit 2 – Continued... 

How has the building evolved in terms of function? Homework: complete a 1 page word document/PowerPoint presentation of your findings. If it has been decided to create a class blog to document the data, instruct students to bring an electronic copy to class

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Unit 3 –Recap & Conservation introduction 


Recap on class trip by creating a class blog using the information gathered

Introduce students to the principles of conservation of heritage buildings and apply them to conserving traditional windows Students will:

Objectives: 

Demonstrate their ICT skills by contributing to the creation of a class blog.

List and explain the importance of conservation principles and the sequence of work.

Recognise the importance traditional sash windows have on the integrity of our heritage buildings.

Length of

Single lesson – 40 minutes

Ask students questions throughout the lesson as they upload their

lesson: Assessment of pupil learning:

data to the blog. Each group will receive a separate page. 

Ask students questions which assess the principles of conservation. Correct worksheet throughout the lesson, providing feedback regarding areas to develop.

Instruct students to compare and contrast modern and traditional windows.

No. of pupils


Subject matter 

analysing and selecting important data gathered during class trip

Uploading selected content to class blog

Key conservation principle’s

Traditional sash window – problems associated

Replacement windows.

Lesson Resources: 

Model of Heritage building demonstrating further heritage buildings in the locality

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Unit 3 – Continued... 

PowerPoint presentations

Completed worksheets

Conservation hand out

Teacher strategies/Class activities: 

Direct Instruction – teacher lead but highly student active

Pair work

Visual learning

Organisation of lesson: Introduction – set learning goals (5 minutes): By the end of this lesson you will be able to (provide brief explanation using PowerPoint): 

Explain how to set up a blog and blog page A blog is a website onto which individuals/groups upload information. We will be making a blog based on our class trip to

List and evaluate the importance of the main conservation principles. In order to maintain heritage building they must be restored/conserved following specific guidelines. Modern building methods will not suffice.

Recognise the importance of traditional sash windows to our built heritage One key conservation principle is to ‘repair rather than replace’. We should be repairing traditional windows instead of inserting new uPVC ones as much as possible.

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Unit 3 – Recap lesson. In order to share the information that each group obtained the following strategies could be used: 

Make a class blog where each group has a page to publish data

Each group makes a poster & presents findings to the class

Create a class report on the building using Microsoft word or a Power Point Presentation.

Although the latter two suggestions appear to be the most practical, creating a class blog has both educational and personal benefits. Firstly we are encouraging students to use the internet with purpose and it could be argued that by incorporating technology into topics such as the built heritage the experience will appeal to students more. More and more teachers are using strategies such as blogs in their teaching either to allow students access to notes for homework or as a means to contain individual lessons which require videos and animations. The blog would be set up by the teacher and the content uploaded by each group. Each group would have an individual page. With the correct structure in place the majority of the content would be uploaded in a 40 minute lesson.

How do I set up a class blog: 1. Create a Gmail account. The teacher could set up one Gmail account for the entire class. On the Google home page select G m a i l .

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Unit 3 – Continued...

2. Select ‘Create an Account’ on the top right

Fill in your relevant details and click ‘next step’. Now you have a Gmail account! OR: If you already have a Google account such as Gmail simply log in as normal.

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Unit 3 – Continued...

3. Select ‘new blog’

4. Create a blog title, address (note your requested address might not be available) and select a template. Selecting a simple template should be considered at this stage.

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Unit 3 – Continued...

5. Click ‘View Blog’ and the home page of the blog will appear.

On a new window your blog homepage will appear. Blog Home page.

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Unit 3 – Continued... 6. Now it is time to personalise your blog. Create pages, upload picture etc. On the Blogger Dashboard select ‘overview’ on the dropdown menu.

Let’s create a page: 

Select the ‘pages’ option on the left tool bar.

You now have the option to select the position of the page tabs on your blog. Simply select ‘side links’ and your desired location.

Then select ‘new page’ and ‘blank page’ on the dropdown menu

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Unit 3 – Continued...   

Create a page title. Type in any information you wish to have on this page. Select save and publish

Click view blog and your page will appear. Repeat for additional pages. Each group may have a page or multiple pages depending on the quantity of information obtained. To upload pictures, sketches or videos simply select the desired option when creating the page.

First page complete.

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Unit 3 – Continued... Setting up blog page: Teacher Instruction: Instruct students to take notes on the stages involved. Print off and hand the ‘setting up a blog’ poster. This is in A2 format. Steps involved: 1. Go to blogger homepage 2. On the ‘go to post’ tab select pages on the drop down menu 3. Select ‘new page’ tab and then blank page in the drop down menu 4. Title of page will be the group. 5. Main features required – text, inserting picture, inserting videos 6. When data is inserted click ‘save’ followed by ‘publish’ 7. Select ‘view blog’ to view completed page Note: After each page is set up stop and explain key points to class. Setting up blog pages or reading handout: Each group will receive 5 minutes to set up their page provided with the assistance of the teacher. The addition of a poster to guide the students though the stages is advised. While one group is setting up blog page the remainder of the class will read the conservation handout given, followed by the completion of an exam question. Teacher instruction: 

Each group will set up their page commencing with group one.

When students are not working on the blog complete hand out and exam question in pairs.

Students will read hand out, read again taking notes. Then the teacher will go through the handout asking the outlined key questions throughout as follows:

Conservation handout: On completion of this hand out you will be able to: 

Evaluate the importance of the key conservation principles

List and explain the sequence of conservation work

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Unit 3 – Continued... 

Recognise the importance traditional sash windows have on the integrity of our heritage buildings. Introduction: In their conservation guidelines the Heritage Council have described the

conservation of buildings as a means to prolong the life of the building by preventing further decay. Work is often carried out on a heritage building, but due to a lack of specialist knowledge, great damage is caused to such structures. With this in mind the Heritage Council have set up guidelines with the aim of promoting awareness about the conservation and restoration of these buildings. Question

Why is specialist knowledge required when working with heritage buildings?

Main Conservation Principles as outlines by the Heritage council: 

Retain and restore the historical significance of the building: Aim should be to both protect and reveal as much of the historical significance of the building as possible.

Complete adequate research prior to conservation work commencing: Ensure the buildings history is known and documented prior to work. The history will provide an indication of the materials associated with the building.

Minimum physical intervention as possible: ‘Repair rather than replace’ is the key rule of thumb associated with this principle. By following this guideline the buildings character and history will be retained as original material will be repaired and used.

Maintain visual setting: In short this means maintain the overall surroundings of the building as much as possible.


What consquences might occur if no research is carried out prior to work?

In their conservation guidelines the Heritage Council have outlined a detailed scheme which should be followed in order to correctly undergo conservation work on a building. The main points have been extracted and are outlined in the following table on the next page: Exploring the heritage in your locality

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Unit 3 – Continued... Description:

Stage: Research

Establish the history of the building


Investigate old papers and documents

The fabric of the building will also provide key information

Survey building

Record existing building by making an overall survey

Complete plans and sectional views which provide structural information

Identify original material and possessions and any items which were added at a later date


Key conservation rule – ‘Repair rather than replace’


Any features that are missing should be reinstated by trained professionals


specialist at this stage to avoid costly damage.

supervision Record work

It is best practice to receive advice from a conservation

Complete a written and photographic document of the work for future reference


Ensure regular and recorded inspection to ensure the building remains in good condition

maintenance 

Repair when required.

Conservation of traditional windows: 

‘When the windows of the original design are removed or altered, the buildings are deprived of their character, and the streetscape suffers’ (Heritage Council)

Today replacement windows come in the form of uPVC and aluminium which do not reflect the origin and character of the house.

For example vernacular thatched cottages are known to have sliding sash windows (right). Modern uPVC replacements with visually unpleasing glazing bars are neglecting the integrity of vernacular design.

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Unit 3 – Continued... Question

What principles of vernacular architecure depend on the restoration of the traditional sash windows.

Teacher instruction: Show students the video of the sliding sash window working on PowerPoint. Common problems associated with windows to be addressed to students: Timber Decay: 

Traditional windows are made of superior timber which is justified by their longevity. Some windows have lasted for over one hundred years and still survive.

If decay is found, always investigate the root of the problem. For example if a window is leaking the leak must be dealt with appropriately.

Wet rot: 

This is visible when the paint begins to ripple and timber goes soft. Over time the wood will lose its strength.

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Unit 3 – Continued... 

Wet rot occurs mainly on Horizontal members as this is where water lodges and is allowed to soak. The moisture might soak into the timber due to a lack of paint or break in putty which keeps the glass in place.

Infected sections of the window should be repaired or replaced with exact replicas.

Sash Cords and pulleys (right): 

Over the years the build up of paint causes sashes and pulley to become immovable. When paint is applied over the sash cord it reduces its strength and will eventually cause the cord to break.

Firstly remove paint which will allow the sashes to move.

Replace and broken sash cord – can be completed by someone familiar with such work. The weights will have to be accessed via the side pockets in the window frame.

2007 Exam question: Answer section a and b in relation to the repair of the windows

Teacher instruction: instruct students to complete window sections of the question. Provide feedback throughout on how to complete the question and further feedback on the completed answer. A sample answer is provided below: Part A: Windows 

Carefully inspect and repair existing windows as much as possible.

Check for any problems such as broken sash cords, putty breaks and repair accordingly.

Repair rather than replace’

If windows are beyond repair, replace with new sash windows identical to the original. This can be achieved by asking the local joinery shops which specialise in the area.

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Unit 3 – Continued... Despite the perception that such windows are expensive to make they are in fact relatively inexpensive. For the sake of retaining the historical significance of the building making the exact replica is encouraged. 

After the new window is installed prime, undercoat and gloss the window as original one was. This will help maintain the visual setting of the home.

Part B: 

In order to encourage the reuse of materials the guide ‘repair rather than replace’ must be adopted.

This involves retaining as much of the original window as possible – timber, glass, weights. (sash cords will more than likely have to be replaced)

Horizontal members are likely to suffer from wet rot as moisture is allowed to lodge in this area. Inspect such members (right).

Cut away any infected sections of the timber and replace with identical pieces. Ensure the character of the window is maintained. Ensure exact details are provided to the craftsman completing the replacement.

When removing infected sections care must be taken to avoid breaking the glass. This will particularly apply when removing the original putty – original glass will be reused.

Complete the repair of sashes and apply original glass. Apply putty around the glass which acts as a sealant.

Allow 2-3 weeks for putty to dry before apply paint.

Prime, undercoat and paint new section as the original.

Install new sash cords. This will require accessing the weight through the side pockets on the window frame.

Recap – correct exam question:

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Unit 4 – Conservation of traditional walls... Aim(s):

To further develop student’s conservation awareness by focusing on traditional walls.


Students will: 

Compare and contrast the walls of modern buildings with those of traditional heritage structures to establish key principles.

List and explain the process of repointing and rendering traditional stone walls.

Demonstrate their knowledge of lime rendering by through the completion of an exam question.

Length of

Single lesson 35-40 minutes approx.

Ask students questions which assesses the principles associated with

lesson: Assessment of pupil

walls e.g. evaluate how traditional stone walls function compared to


modern day construction 

Circulate and correct student’s worksheets providing feedback on areas which require improvement.

Correct an exam question which will show students knowledge of the conservation of traditional walls

Subject matter 

Traditional stone walls v concrete cavity construction

Principle of evaporation relating to traditional stone walls

The importance of lime

Lesson Resources: 

PowerPoint presentations

Completed worksheets

Conservation hand out

Exam question

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Unit 4 – Continued... Teacher strategies/Class activities: 

Direct instruction

Class discussions

Organisation of lesson: State learning goals – By the end of this lesson you will be able to: 

Compare and contrast modern day walls with traditional stone/brick walls Modern day construction differs greatly from traditional building. Thus materials used today such as cement will not suffice when working with heritage buildings.

Explain how the principle of evaporation relates to traditional stone walls When moisture soaks into an old stone wall it must be allowed to be released. This happens through evaporation.

Explain the necessity of lime when working with traditional walls Lime is a material which has the ability to absorb and release moisture.

Key question

What differences exist between modern walls and old traditional walls?

Teacher instruction: provide pictures on PowerPoint and allow students time to analyse the images. One possible response will relate to traditional walls being thicker than modern walls. Instruct students to visualise a vertical section. Key points: 

Traditional walls are thicker than walls today

Traditional walls were constructed using random rubble stone as opposed to concrete blocks

Key question

Exploring the heritage in your locality

Why are traditional walls thicker than walls today?

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Unit 4 – Continued... Teacher instruction: show cross section of walls (both traditional and modern) on PowerPoint and allow students time to develop an answer. Instruct students to take notes throughout. Key points: 

Traditional walls are very wide, as this prevented moisture reaching the inner surfaces.

Rain water would soak into the wall but would dry out before reaching the inner surfaces.

This means that the materials used must allow for this moisture to leave the wall.

Modern cavity walls are designed with a cavity which prevents moisture reaching the inner surfaces of the building. They also have DPC’s and expansion joints unlike traditional structures. ‘Recognition of this is fundamental’ (Heritage Buildings) to the well being of heritage buildings. See sections below:

Modern concrete cavity walls have a cavity. Any moisture which penetrates the outer leaf falls down the cavity thus not reaching the inner surface.

Moisture which soaks into a traditional stone wall must be realised through evaporation. The materials used in the construction must allow for this.

Teacher instruction: Allow students time to take down key notes on PowerPoint. Circulate and observe providing feedback on the quality of sketching. Criteria – proportions, accuracy, correct use of colour. Mortars, pointing and renders: ‘Traditional buildings require flexibility to allow for the in dependant movement of the constituent parts, to cope with seasonal changes and to allow for any moisture entering the walls to evaporate unimpeded’ (Heritage Council Conservation Guidelines) Exploring the heritage in your locality

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Unit 4 – Continued... Mortars, plasters and renders must be pliable and porous. Pliable means flexible while porous involves having minute holes which allows liquid or air to pass. The most important material to achieve such characteristics is lime. Later in the year we will look at lime in detail but for now it is vital we acknowledge its importance to the life of heritage buildings. Repointing: 

A common problem associated with traditional walls is decayed pointing. Decayed and loose pointing allows water into the wall and lodge there. The procedure for repairing this problem is illustrated in three basic steps:




Remove loose mortar and cut back to a square face 

Air gaps occur due to poor craftsmanship

Correct method- mortar well pushed in

The mortar joint should always be weaker than the stone/brick work to allow for the release of moisture.

Rendering - is an external coat applied to the building to protect it from water/moisture penetration Most common render – Lime Based render applied to rubble walls. Conservation Problems – Removal of this render & effects of weathering •Exposes Rubble Wall to rain (Water penetration) •Uncovering unseen work, may be poor quality •Material Mixtures (lime mortar & animal hair) not available •Cannot be recovered, lack of respect for the craft •Disrupts Aesthetics of building Exploring the heritage in your locality

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Unit 4 – Continued... The original external plaster of an old house is to be removed to reveal solid stone walls of random rubble construction as shown on the sketch. The owner has the option of either leaving the external stonework exposed or replastering the walls Outline two reasons in favour of each option listed above. If the house is to be replastered, a 1 lime: 3 sand mix is recommended for the external render. Give two reasons why such a mix is recommended for this house. Teacher instruction: allow students time to complete the outlined exam question. Provide feedback throughout on work. It must be noted that random rubble plastered walls are not supposed to be exposed. They were not built with this in mind. Key points to be included in answer: In favour of exposing stone work: 

Current render is cracked and is offering no protection to rain.

Crack render is reducing the aesthetics of the building. Exposing the stone work would be more visually pleasing.

The original stone work will enhance the appearance of the house.

Exposing the stone show cases traditional skills which are now diminishing. These old skills suit the age and characteristics of the house more.

In favour of replastering: 

Most important – The random rubble wall was never intended to be seen. It could be poor quality workmanship. More importantly the wall was built with the intention of being plastered. Removing the plaster will result in the wall not being water and weather resistant. Replastering the wall will protect it from water/moisture penetration.

Simplicity is the key to the Vernacular design. These houses blend seamlessly into the landscape. A common trait of vernacular house is the whitewashed plastered walls.

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Unit 4 – Continued... Replastering with a lime and sand mix: 

Random rubble walls need to be able to breathe. They need to allow for the release of the absorbed moisture. Lime has these characteristics which absorbs and releases moisture. (porosity)

Traditional walls need to be flexible in order to expand and contract. Lime can achieve this.

Lime renders can be easily moulded in order to follow contours of the wall.

Correct question at the end of class. This will act as the recap.

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Unit 5 –Individual research of a heritage local heritage building. building... Aim(s):

To further develop students skills necessary to investigate and explore a heritage building

To further encourage students to undertake a heritage related project for the leaving certificate.


Students will: 

Demonstrate exploration skills by successfully completing a report of a heritage building

Recognise the importance of the building to their locality

Recognise the cultural history of the building

Develop communication skills by interviewing home owner/local people.


of pupil learning

Ask students questions at various stages throughput the term to assess their development in their research.

Correct students work at various stages throughout the term and provide feedback on areas which require improvement.

Collect and correct report when completed providing feedback where required.

For the Construction Studies coursework option (iii) the actual building is the focus of the project. It is the investigation and research which determines the standard of the project. In order for students to gain further experience associated with these skills this unit should be encouraged. Students will also have to complete a report on the building which is further preparation for the coursework. Despite what option chosen by the student a portfolio will have to be completed. By encouraging the use of software such as Microsoft word and PowerPoint at this stage of fourth year that standard of portfolios will be higher come Leaving Certificate. Also by getting students to complete such tasks will provide more information and data for the class blog. The following worksheet could be used as guide when exploring the building. Photos, sketches, historical record/documents and interviews should be used to support the report.

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Unit 5 –Continued... History of the building: 

What people lived in the building?

What was their occupation?

Did famous people live in the building?

What contribution did such famous people make to the locality?

What key historic events are associated with the building?

How has the building linked with the historical development of the locality?

Architectural style: 

When was the building constructed?

What particular period?

Who built it? A famous designer? Local untrained residents?

Integrity of the building: 

Has the building maintained its original state? Seek old photos for evidence

How has the building evolved in terms of function?

Has the historical significance of the building been maintained?

Description of conservation/restoration works – have they complied with the conservation principle as outlined by the Heritage council?

Environment: 

How does the building relate to it surroundings?

Does it blend seamlessly into the landscape or stand out as a formal building?

Is there a link with the buildings and other buildings in the locality?

Construction details: 

What construction processes were used in the construction process?

What materials were used?

How do the materials used reflect the economic/social statuses?

Complete sectional sketches/drawing. Seek original drawings if possible.

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Unit 5 –Continued... When should students complete this unit? It would be advised to assign students this task directly after the completion of unit 4. Typically this topic should be introduced at the start of 4th year. By providing the task at this stage and setting the deadline for the first lesson back after the Halloween midterm break students will have sufficient time. It is not expected students spend large amounts of time on this tasks as other aspects of the course will the focal point. However by completing this unit students are developing key skills necessary for this type of project in their leaving cert year.

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Further Study: On completion of the five units of study teachers are encouraged to further promote the built heritage within the subject. On their class blogs links should be provided relating to heritage projects. Students should be encouraged to refer to regularly in order to check out updated links the site contains. More importantly teachers should encourage a number of students within a class group to undertake a heritage based project for their Leaving Cert. It is class groups who don’t undertake a heritage project that are neglecting the educational value of the subject. By simply encouraging a minority of the class to explore the built heritage students will learn from each other.

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Teaching Guide  

A guide to teaching and exploring the architectural heritage in your locality.