AHRC Innovation Scholars Secondment
Intangible heritage is fast becoming a prerequisite concept for the contemporary understanding and interpretation of heritage. However, in England, a prevailing focus on tangible (physical) heritage assets within policy and practice is resulting in an ever-growing lacuna in practitioner guidance and recommendations concerning how immaterial manifestations of culture can be accounted for when designing in historic contexts - be that new design, conservative repair, or adaptive reuse. This secondment proposal seeks to directly address this lacuna by connecting the secondee's academic research findings relating to the impact of intangible heritage on architectural and building conservation practices, to the industry challenges that are faced by the secondment host, Historic England, who are the public body that takes care of England's historic built environment. As the host's work is based on their statutory function, their projects typically respond to developments in legislation that are focused on the tangible qualities of heritage. This secondment proposal has therefore been purposefully designed to sit outside of this duty, meaning it offers the secondee and host a unique opportunity to begin exploring in detail how the management of change to historic places can reflect the intangible qualities of heritage, and how this can be utilised to innovate principles for design in historic contexts. During a 24-month period, this process of knowledge transfer between academia and industry will be developed across a number of case study projects and managed through the creation of a dedicated project Steering Group. A series of new practitioner recommendations ('pre-guidance') will be developed to not only be utilised by the secondment host, but also by the broader UK heritage sector, as a means to underpin their own disciplinary approaches in relation to this increasingly relevant component of the heritage industry and heritage management.