Conservation of Historic Concrete with Catherine Croft

Ref: B3D13288

Location: West Dean
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About this course

This course is intended for architects, surveyors, engineers, contractors and conservators working with architecturally or historically significant structural or decorative concrete. It has been prepared in response to the increasing number of concrete buildings, both pre-cast and in-situ structures, which are now recognised as historically significant and are being listed.

The course discusses how to develop and implement a conservation and repair strategy for concrete buildings and includes constituent materials and construction processes and consideration of weathering and decay processes. It will consider how to address both design deficiencies and changing performance requirements and will cover testing methods.

Lectures, practical demonstrations and practical exercises will be complemented by films and discussions.

Course Description

Day 1
6.45pm - Welcome talk
7-7.45pm Dinner
8-9.30pm Evening Lecture
Scope and compass of course including practical sessions:  What is concrete? Understanding the basic terminology and primary reasons for decay.  Overview of current issues and debates for conservation-led repair of concrete.

Day 2
The history of concrete in Britain, and the influence of developing technologies on design and construction Demonstration.  
Mixing and slump test lecture.  
Understanding the problem, research and diagnostics demonstration.  
Taking a core sample, carbonation testing, hammer testing, use of Schmidt hammer 
Will it stay up? A structural engineer’s key questions to ask when working with historic concrete. 
Case Study:  Dudley Zoo.  Q&A
Demonstration.  Patch repairs, part 1:  Cutting out and matching mixes.
Practical session.  Use of aggregates
Chichester Festival Theatre:  Concrete repair case study Chichester Festival Theatre
5.15pm Chichester Festival Theatre - Mock-up Q&A 
7-7.45pm Dinner
8-9pm Evening Film Show and discussion:  Edward James’ ‘Las Pozas’, concrete garden in Mexico
Day 3   
Visit to Chichester to look at a variety of concrete structures and different surface finishing techniques 
Film.  William Mitchell’s Lea Valley Water Authority Building Film.  William Mitchell concrete sculpture in the 1960s 
Demonstration.  Placing patch repairs, part 2 Students’ projects.  Those who wish to, to do 5 minutes presentations. 
Demonstration.  Surface finishes, Elephant House, use of acid 
7-7.45pm Dinner
8pm Evening  Film Show.  Locke.  (Optional)

Day 4   
Lecture.  The chemistry and composition of architectural concrete.  The theory behind cathodic protection Demonstration/Practical Session.  Surface finishes, part 2:  Bush hammering Lecture.  Cleaning and surface preparation methods 
Demonstration of cleaning and surface preparation techniques 
Lecture.  Conclusion:  Considerations for the development and implementation of a philosophy of concrete repair
3.30pm  Issue of certificates and depart.

Please note that that the tutor may make variations in the timetable


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

Please remember to bring work clothes/overalls and shoes/boots for practical sessions outdoors.  An umbrella may be useful on the short walk to the Auditorium and Ruinette.  If you have a high-vis jacket please bring for the site visit.


Catherine Croft

BCM Course Leader

Catherine Croft is Director of the Twentieth Century Society, Editor of C20 Magazine, Co-editor of 'Concrete: Case Studies in Conservation Practice' (published 2019), author of 'Concrete Architecture' and contributor to the English Heritage 'Practical Building Conservation Manual on Concrete'. She has been an English Heritage Historic Buildings Inspector and a caseworker for the Victorian Society.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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