Nineteenth-century housing preventive conservation in Edinburgh and its Western European context

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



The purpose of this paper is to explore how comprehensive the management of common repairs in the nineteenth-century urban housing in Edinburgh is in the European context. The city experienced a variety of approaches since the 1970s to repairs of exposed decorative elements and the envelope, whose condition is exacerbated by inappropriate interventions and climate change.

The debate is framed in practice in Western Europe where economy, administration and conservation cultures have been similar since the 1970s: property manager (Glasgow), role of housing agency (Venice), Monumentenwacht’s periodical inspections for subscribers (Flanders), tax incentives (France, Italy, Spain), linking management and procurement (Libretto Casa, Rome) and the emerging concept of preventive conservation.

Edinburgh has a holistic and technically rich management experience, with a strong educational focus, which shows the immense volume of work required, hampered by the fragmentation of ownership and the small size of the repair industry. Practice can improve in Edinburgh and Europe through increased awareness, tax incentives, regular inspections, legal recognition of the need for maintenance and stepping-up the debate at national, European and political level, towards preventive conservation approaches.
Research limitations/implications

The study profited from direct knowledge of the approach in Edinburgh and other areas, but little has been published on each area outside the local level, so appraisal depended on language knowledge.

This first reading of practice at the European level may be of value to the national agencies referred to, for policy development or European initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-110
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development
Issue number2
Early online date31 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2018


  • maintenance
  • common repairs
  • historical housing
  • Edinburgh
  • Georgian Architecture
  • preventive conservation


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