Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Director's Notes - January 2010

I write from the warmth of my office, amid the chilly weather around us.

Jan 11, 2010

I write from the warmth of my office, amid the chilly weather around us. My usual view across Charlotte Square – through an astragal sash window with delicate glazing bars, is slightly obscured by a load of sensors and wires running around the place to a small box on the floor. This is all the result of a careless joke I made, which was taken seriously, and which will have useful results. For the next twelve months, as an experiment, my window has been temporarily replaced with a locally manufactured unit with double glazed astragals and the original window safely stored, and the results are being monitored by Glasgow Caledonian University.

This is part of a wider study we are supporting with Changeworks and Lister Housing Cooperative, where 1980s replacement windows are to be removed from a Georgian tenement on Archibald Place and replaced with a selection of double glazed sash windows with appropriate glazing patterns, trialing the various technologies. Naturally, we would never countenance the replacement of historic windows and glass, but certainly feel that there is a case for supporting the replacement of unsustainable (and unsightly) U-PVC and aluminium units with the competitively priced traditionally manufactured sashes that are being trialled.

Scaffolding is up along large parts of Hillside Crescent as we attempt to ease the burden of enforced works to a number of the buildings through the conservation funding programme. Playfair’s magnificent plan for the area remains largely intact, with only one or two losses and interventions over the years. Being able to assist with these works, hopefully catching buildings at a relatively early stage, before they decline any further, is hugely important in terms of preventing future losses.

Just to the south, Calton Hill has been bearing the weather well, and we are excited at the prospect of the Vivat Trust taking on Old Observatory House as holiday accommodation, contributing to the active management of the hill. To that end, there is to be a half day session, held jointly with the City of Edinburgh Council, to explore the future of the hill, with a view to drawing up a plan for its longer term management. EWH has a small number of spaces available – please let us know if you would like to attend and contribute to the session.

Over in the Old Town, we’ve been working with Panmure St Ann's school and local residents on projects to create green spaces in the close – relatively small projects that make a real difference to the community, and which we would hope to repeat in other areas and communities. The project with the school links in with our broader educational work, such as the Rich Task school project we’ve been working on as a pilot with St Thomas of Aquin's school. Learning, of course, doesn’t stop at the end of formal education, and EWH’s research on historic lighting in the Old and New Town is being used to inform replacement lamp standards, in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council.

Expect education work towards behavioural change in relation to the World Heritage Site’s carbon emissions to kick off as our Climate Challenge Fund project gets underway. Following interviews with an excellent array of candidates we are pleased to be able to appoint Chiara Ronchini to the position of Energy Efficiency Officer.

And finally it is with very great sadness that I note the sudden passing of our colleague, the inspirational David Sarkisyan, director of the Russian Museum of Architecture – the Shchusev Architecture Museum in Moscow. David injected energy and enthusiasm into the myriad of projects he and the museum were engaged in – whether fighting in obdurate conditions for threatened buildings, or mounting the most wonderful displays from the museum’s amazing archives, in spite of the appallingly low level of funding such an important museum receives. Each and every one of the publications produced under him was a scholarly labour of love, brilliantly written and beautifully edited. We all have much to learn from his all-too-short a time on this earth. This link takes you to a picture of David in his element.

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