IHBC Yearbook 2021

R E V I E W A N D A N A L Y S I S 29 WHO CARES? LOES VELDPAUS IT’S THE session after lunch. I’ve squeezed myself back into my chair in a full auditorium in what used to be a redundant railway building in Stirling – you may well have been there with me. It is a darkened room, and I guess we’re all a bit full, of abundant food and of all the presentations and pointers provided over the past two days. The next speaker will have to entertain the drowsy after-lunch audience on day two. I say something like, ‘engaging them might be a challenge’ to my colleague, but he responds ‘I know her. It’ll be good, she’s good. This is an important story.’ No less than 10 minutes in, I am very much proven wrong. Drone footage of the Glasgow School of Art, or of what is left of the building after the second fire, draws out gasps of horror. I pull myself out of the story to observe a mesmerised and emotional audience. This conference is on how best to restore old and knackered buildings, and the empathy is palpable. Imagine this happens to you, to your building, so helpless, incapacitated in the face of a raging fire and the destruction it leaves behind. Both the speaker and the audience full of ‘heritage people’ clearly care, a lot. For the material, the stories, and the people involved. It is like grieving a loss through a process of sharing, storytelling, restoring, and recreating. It made me realise that we hardly ever talk about restoring heritage as a practice of care – strange really, as caring for old buildings is such a common way of defining built heritage conservation. I was attending this Heritage Trust Network event with a colleague from the Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust (TWBPT). I wanted to learn more about the restoration of built heritage in practice in the UK, because we had just started collaborating on a restoration project in Sunderland as part of OpenHeritage, a large EU funded research project. In OpenHeritage (see https://openheritage.eu) we research and develop ‘inclusive governance and finance models’ for adaptive heritage reuse, with a focus on economically, geographically, and/ or societally ‘marginalised’ heritage. We look at governance, community engagement, and financial mechanisms in case studies and regulatory frameworks across 15 European Drone’s eye view and digital model of the burnt out shell of Glasgow School of Art following the second fire (Images: Glasgow School of Art)