Traditional Trades & Conservation

Australia ICOMOS (AI) Vision for Traditional Trades (TT)

Australia ICOMOS’ mission is to lead cultural heritage conservation in Australia by raising standards, encouraging debate and generating innovative ideas. The use of traditional trades is an essential part of achieving high quality conservation of culturally significant places in accordance with the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter. Australia ICOMOS will work with the community; the construction industry and all the relevant partners to promote traditional construction and repair techniques (usually pre-1950) for culturally significant structures and landscapes.

AI Strategy for Traditional Trades

Australia ICOMOS will work with relevant partners (eg. the construction industry) to:

  1. contribute to a national response to the promotion of traditional construction and repair trades for structures and for landscapes
  2. identify the drivers & research the business case to facilitate traditional trades training and implementation (e.g. noting that currently over 50% of the construction industry involves work to existing building stock as opposed to new build)
  3. explore ways to raise and monitor standards of conservation works on site, in particular through working with relevant partners to establish suitable TT benchmarks or charters (such documents are a strength of Australia ICOMOS)
  4. identify and assist in the promotion of TT by linking existing TT skills and training to opportunities for practitioners who are committed to continuing and improving the use of TT
  5. promote that the reuse of existing building stock is more sustainable than developing new urban areas, new buildings and/or infrastructure
  6. promote that traditional materials and techniques usually have less environmental impact
  7. recognise that TT skills need to be maintained by a supply of traditional materials, and promote controlled salvage as part of a sustainable solution
  8. continue to promote training courses and research that assists AI members in understanding what is best practice for TT when used in the conservation of heritage places
  9. support initiatives from our partners that work towards the AI strategic outcomes for Traditional Trades (TT)
  10. consider other ways in which Australia ICOMOS can contribute in response to identifying an protecting vanishing trades and the associated trade skills and materials

Please email the Traditional Trades contact person, Mary Knaggs if you require further information.

AI Support for an Australian Heritage Quality Framework

Australia ICOMOS (AICOMOS) has been working the Association of Preservation Technology (Australasian Chapter) to promote the concept of an Australian Heritage Quality Framework (AHQF).

The current heritage management system in Australia provides best practice strategic planning for heritage places, but often delivers poor physical conservation outcomes for the community, owners, managers and developers alike. This is because there is a disconnect between pre-consent planning processes, which are often costly and time consuming, and post-consent delivery, which can expose heritage-listed places to ill-informed or pragmatic decision making and subsequent adverse impacts on heritage fabric (to the detriment of both heritage values and the long term sustainability of the place).

The 2012 Heritage Trades Training Scoping Project prepared by the Construction and Property Services Industry Skills Council (CPSISC) identifies both the need for training and the need to provide incentives for trainers and trainees. While the CPSISC study provides recommendations for training, it does not provide any recommendations on incentives. An AHQF adopted by all Australian heritage stakeholders can provide this incentive by requiring those executing the conservation project to meet quality benchmarks, and thus to seek the training to achieve those standards.

At this stage AICOMOS supports the idea of self-certification that the benchmarks provided by the AHQF have been achieved, and that this self-certification be mandatory as part of any statutory conditions of approval or government funding.

An Australian Heritage Quality Framework has the potential to:

  • Achieve higher quality conservation works for Australia’s heritage assets
  • Provide property owners with more certainty that physical conservation works to heritage fabric has been carried using appropriate sustainable methods
  • Encourage the building and development industries to meet Nationally recognised benchmarks for heritage construction projects
  • Provide for improved employment opportunities and training in traditional trades

With APT (Australasia), AICOMOS is lobbying the Australian Heritage Chairs and Officials to work together to develop an AHQF including consultation with the heritage property owners; the construction industry; the trades training sector and other stakeholders such as AICOMOS.

Current opportunities to learn about Traditional Trades used in heritage conservation in Australia

The following links are placed here for the benefit of Australia ICOMOS (AI) members. It does not mean that these particular training opportunities are endorsed by Australia ICOMOS. Users of this website need to make their own enquiries about whether the courses are suitable to their needs.

If you know of other courses that provide training in understanding traditional trades that may benefit AI members please email the Traditional Trades contact person, Mary Knaggs.

  • Association of Preservation Technology Australasia: The Longford Academy, Tasmania

    An annual 5 day workshop event usually held in May each year at Longford in Northern Tasmania. More information>>

  • University of Canberra: Heritage Conservation Summer Schools

    The program is based on two intensive summer schools: The Conservation of Traditional Buildings (12 days) and Cultural Heritage Management (7 days). The schools are held in January each year with the topics alternating. More information>>

  • Construction Industry Training Board of South Australia: Heritage Trades Program

    Theory and practical sessions in traditional trade skills. Courses run several times a year. Although the courses are primarily for tradespeople, other practitioners may be accepted. More information>>

  • Centre for Heritage Conservation, Restoration and Preservation of Heritage, Tasmania

    Heritage skills courses run throughout the year in Oatlands Tasmania. More information>>

  • Holmesglen TAFE Victoria

    Some short courses in traditional trade skills. More information>>

International Opportunities to learn about Traditional Trades used in Heritage Conservation

There are so many courses, conferences and seminars available internationally that only summary websites are listed here.

Traditional Trade Internet Links

If you know of other links that relate to the use of traditional trades in heritage conservation in Australia please email the Traditional Trades contact person, Mary Knaggs.

Recent Australian Studies on Traditional Trades in Australia

Technical Information on Traditional Trades in Australia

International Links

The Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL) is primarily a collection of American and Canadian, pre-1964 architectural trade catalogues, house plan books and technical building guides.