Teaching Summary: Principles of Heritage and Conservation Intensive wraps for 2020

This post originally appeared on the University of Melbourne’s Australian Centre for Architectural History, Urban and Cultural Heritage (ACAHUCH) blog.

Following the transition of the University’s teaching and learning to online platforms in light of COVID-19, our newest member Dr James Lesh, under the auspices of ACAHUCH, has recently wrapped up an intensive subject in the Masters of Urban and Cultural Heritage (M-UCH) program.

Over the last fortnight, teaching has been in full swing within ACAHUCH. Principles of Heritage and Conservation, a core subject within the M-UCH program, has been delivered to a passionate cohort of students. Every day for two weeks, M-UCH students as well as other ABP / MSD students utilised new approaches to teaching and learning on Zoom for morning lectures and small-group tutorials. With the switch to online teaching, we sought to give our students plenty of face-to-face time with each other and with academic staff. The M-UCH program prides itself on providing an intimate learning experience for all students enrolled. Bringing together students from a range of built environment disciplines in our classrooms provides a rich learning experience, exposes students to a variety of perspectives, and resembles the real-world interdisciplinary practice of urban and cultural heritage.

Dr James Lesh taught the subject in 2020. He joined MSD and ACAHUCH recently and brings his expertise in Australian heritage conservation and urban history to the subject. Students’ learning commences with studies on key 19th century figures such as John Ruskin, William Morris, and other precursors to modern conversation movements, before progressing forward to the last century and now, learning of the intricacies of the Burra Charter from its 1979 inception through to its 2020 usage. Students unpack ideas such as conservation and restoration, authenticity and integrity, and the relationship between old and new, in living urban and cultural heritage environments.

The second half of the intensive course explores pressing ideas in heritage and conservation theory and practice, such as how environmental impacts like climate change are reshaping our approach. Architect Jefa Greenaway inspired students to re-think the practice of heritage through the Australian Indigenous Design Charter. This part of the course also incorporates the emerging field of people-centred built environment conservation where students are encouraged to re-think the kinds of evidence used to make conservation decisions.

Economist Marcus Spiller unpacked the ideas which govern the economic and financial value of heritage places. Anne-Marie Treweeke and Milica Tumbas from Lovell Chen detailed recent conservation efforts at the University of Melbourne’s Old Quadrangle. It is the first application of the energy-efficient Passivhaus model on a heritage site in Australia, and students are looking forward to visiting this site when the campus reopens. Other guests in 2020 included conservation architects Fraser Brown and Ruth Redden, Geoff Austin and Emily McLean from Heritage Victoria, Felicity Watson from the National Trust, the Public Record Office of Victoria, and our own Professor Hannah Lewi talking about the conservation of modernism.

Visit the University of Melbourne website for further information about the Masters of Urban and Cultural Heritage.

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