Architecture students gain key conservation knowledge


De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) connections have led to valuable industry insights for Architecture students and graduates.


Thanks to the university’s close working relationship with Leicester City Council, 25 current students and recent alumni of the Leicester School of Architecture were offered free places on a sought-after heritage training course.

During the one-day course, designed to develop understanding of old buildings and the practicalities of looking after them, second-year Architecture BA (Hons) student Julia Desperak gained crucial knowledge she can apply to her degree.

“I hoped the training could be helpful for future projects - because architecture is not only about building new, but also about preserving what is already there - and I wasn’t disappointed,” said the Polish student.

“It made me aware of co-operating with old buildings and the law around it. I now know where to find important historical information, which is especially useful for our current studio project, taking place next to the King Richard III Visitor Centre.

“Also, one of our future projects will involve working with old buildings and I think I will have a head start thanks to what I learned on this course.”


The training was delivered by leading conservation architect James Innerdale and featured input from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and Leicester City Council. 

It explored how traditional buildings were constructed and how they can decay, and introduced the ideas underpinning conservation and good practice in making repairs. 

It covered the legal framework around carrying out work to old buildings and tips on working with professionals and a local authority. 

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The course also included a practical exercise looking at local building types, their construction and materials, and offered pointers on maintenance.

Another attendee was Byron Magumise, who completed his Architecture MArch at DMU, and more recently, an Architectural Practice Postgraduate Diploma (Part 3).


The graduate from Nottingham, who works as an architect at Stephen George + Partners, said: “It gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded people, as well as professionals working on the other side of the industry and an understanding of how they do their work.

“As a practising architect, the insight I gained was very valuable and has helped me to better relate to other professionals. It was also an opportunity to meet people who look after these buildings and understand their fears when appointing an architect.”

Justin Webber, senior building conservation officer at Leicester City Council, said: “Historic buildings form a significant part of the makeup of cities like Leicester and training the next generation of designers should help ensure their care and sympathetic adaption into the future.

“Having a well-regarded design school in the heart of the city provides an opportunity for sharing knowledge and improving the way we work with heritage, through training events like this and other aspects, such as the support DMU provides to the Leicester Conservation Advisory Panel.”

Both DMU and Leicester City Council are part of the Leicester Urban Observatory, a collaboration between local planning professionals and academics.

Posted on Monday 5th November 2018

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