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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.99

AABC: The Register of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation - benefitting clients and the structures they are responsible for

OgtxbTlIn recent years the Climate Crisis has been throwing new light on the benefits of refurbishing historic buildings. Extending the life of a historic building offers benefits over new construction in terms of embodied energy and waste. The thoughtful upgrade of a historic building by a competent architect can also reduce operational energy costs, a fact that clients and building users are increasingly aware of. However, in the hands of an architect inexperienced in working with sensitive historic buildings there is also the danger that inappropriate or damaging interventions may be made, putting clients and the structures they are responsible for at risk. It stands to reason that now, more than ever, the accreditation of Architects in Building Conservation plays an important part in linking clients with suitably skilled architects.

AABC (Architects Accredited in Building Conservation) is an independent accreditation body established in 1999 for and by skilled conservation architects. The primary purpose of the AABC Register is to protect the historic built environment from damaging interventions. It does so by publishing, for the benefit of clients, a register of architects whose work and skills in building conservation have been established by peer assessment moderated by a lay assessor representing the client.

There are no charges for clients to use the Register, it is self-financed by the initial and annual registration fees received from all successful Architects applying for their addition to the register. These annual fees cover the costs of administrating the assessment processes, maintaining the register, a series of annual training seminars and the delivery of an annual conference. AABC also operates a Mentor scheme which offers a structured programme of mentoring and guidance to younger architects who wish to become accredited.

With well over 400 building conservation accredited architects on the AABC Register, our open access website is designed to assist clients with locating and engaging an architect whose experience in building conservation and adaptation is assured by a rigorous assessment process. Accredited architects can easily be located using an interactive map, enabling clients to find suitably qualified architects local to sites or conveniently located.

To achieve successful AABC Registration, architects submit 5 case study examples of their work completed within the last 5 years, illustrating their professional expertise and demonstrating their experience of building conservation and adaptation. The opportunity is also provided for applicants to demonstrate their insights, understanding and application of the building conservation principles codified by the International Council On Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). All AABC registered architects are re-assessed every 5 years in order to ensure that they are still practicing and are up to date with relevant site experience and Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

There are two categories of AABC Registered architect, listed as Architects (A) or Consultant Architects (CA). This is to distinguish between architects accredited as “hands on” designers and deliverers of building conservation and adaptation -and those who act in a “hands off” capacity such as in a consultative, educational or advisory role. In the selection of an architect for a particular commission it is always important to have met the individual, know more about their experiences with similar projects, resources, personal qualities, managerial skills and reputation. It is normal for them to provide details of their practice and projects or assignments carried out and for a potential client to see the latter and make appropriate enquiries.

Full details of the AABC Register’s processes, procedures, application forms and advice to applicants – including key competences and the ICOMOS core conservation principles - are accessible to all on the AABC website www.aabc-register.co.uk

Article reproduced with the kind cooperation of Tom Bridgen BSc MArch PhD MBA RIBA AABC, Associate Partner Purcell