“Buildings normally represent a single moment in time, but the urban environments around them continually evolve. If we understand the contribution a building is making to the story of its surroundings, we can make decisions that go beyond preserving historical facades to foster opportunities to protect, and add to, the stories and layers of the past.” – The Conversation
What are Australia’s Heritage Buildings?
As native Australians, we are deeply connected to our culture, our roots, and our heritage. There are few things more important to us than our connection to our beloved Australia. To return home from a trip abroad to be greeted with our indigenous climate, landscape, and buildings that uniquely belong to our great continent is a gift to those who call Australia home.
Our precious and unique landscapes are enhanced by active environmentalists, as well as caring people who take care of our venerated buildings from coast to coast. Such buildings are part of our National Heritage Database that “contains information about more than 20,000 natural, historic and Indigenous places.
The database includes:
- places in the World Heritage List
- places in the National Heritage List
- places in the Commonwealth Heritage list
- places in the Register of the National Estate
- places in the List of Overseas Places of Historic Significance to Australia
- places under consideration, or that may have been considered for, any one of these lists.” – Australian Heritage Database
Without delving into too many particulars, suffice it to say the list of approximately 20,000 Heritage sites is no longer an active list, meaning it is no longer being curated. Close to 9,000 of these Heritage sites are buildings. There aren’t any buildings being added to the list. Additionally, no buildings are being de-listed as the national government is no longer responsible for this action.
“In 1997 the Council of Australian Governments agreed that heritage listing and protection should be the responsibility of the level of government best placed to deliver agreed outcomes. … This led to the creation of two new heritage lists in 2003. Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999(EPBC Act) the National Heritage List includes places of outstanding heritage value to the nation, and the Commonwealth Heritage List includes heritage places owned or controlled by the Commonwealth.” – Register of the National Estate Archive
How We Can Take Care of Them
With the history lesson behind us, we can focus on the 9,000 or so buildings across Australia that are classified as Heritage Buildings. We’ll take a look at what is being done and what can further be done to preserve these classic structures.
A Heritage building is usually significant because of a momentous event or occasion, its relationship to a specific location, or because it has cultural, historic, or intrinsic value. These buildings can be taken care of and sustained in a number of ways. Before embarking on a plan to improve a Heritage building, the successful identification of the type of conservation should be done.
Types of Conservation for Australia’s Heritage Buildings
Preservation, renovation, and restoration are different types of conservation that a building of any significance can undergo. Each type has a distinct meaning and set of actions.
Preservation is the stopping of deterioration, and focusing on retaining as much of the original structure and materials as possible. Stopping, maintaining, and protecting are part of the preservation process.
Restoration refers to bringing a building back to its former, or at least an improved, condition. It’s the action of re-establishing as closely as possible that which was.
Renovation means to make a structure new again after destruction, decay, or dilapidation.
Our Responsibility as Contractors
When challenged with an inquiry to improve a Heritage Building, the contractor who receives such query has a great responsibility. Their responsibility is to understand the subtle differences in these conservation types. This is so both the building owner and our citizens who see and live with the building in their locality are satisfied.
Once that is established, the contractor can go about selecting the necessary tools and materials to complete the work and maintain the building for decades to come. To be successful with any Heritage Building project, it is essential to choose the right materials. These materials are often dictated by the building itself. The integrity of each building is best maintained with the careful understanding and use of building materials to maintain each special structure’s longevity.
Avello Group has worked on a number of Australia’s Heritage Buildings. We have seen the successful end results of taking care of the fine details. These details are required to preserve, protect, and restore these valuable buildings. Whether it’s stone cleaning, sealing, painting or applying other coatings for a building you manage, we can help. If you have any questions about a specific process for work on a Heritage Building, whether it’s interior or exterior work, reach out to discuss with our experts.
To search the Heritage Building database in Australia, visit: http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl