The UK is blessed with an abundance of historical buildings which offer a glimpse of life in centuries past. Many of them are ruined, to be explored by visitors who rely on images and imagination, to see what they would have been like in their full glory.
Some have been restored and maintained to be experienced now as they were when they were originally built. Many have taken these buildings and turned them into comfortable and characterful homes. English Heritage has played a huge part in this, offering listed status to protect buildings from inappropriate development or even demolition.
But keeping them in use today and bringing them up to today’s standards to ensure they are fit for purpose is a colossal challenge. Once restoration or improvement work has been approved the work then has to be carried out under strict guidelines. Materials that are as close to the original as possible must often be used, even when there are superior modern alternatives. They may threaten the integrity and character of the building. Firms have to continually find new and innovative ways to enable these buildings to serve a useful purpose in today’s world, while preserving their appearance and character.
Windows especially are an issue. Their structure - wooden frames and delicate glass - means they are often the first areas to show signs of decay. If they break down, they can render a building uninhabitable, leaving it vulnerable to weather and noise pollution.
Yet any slight change to the windows can cause irrevocable damage to the building’s appearance and character.