Five go off to the Engine Shed
By Gaby Laing, Heritage Officer
It does sound very Enid Blyton, doesn’t it? On Wednesday 15 November, the five SCT staff members shut up shop and headed for Stirling to participate in Historic Environment Scotland’s stakeholder event on the ‘What’s Your Heritage?’ consultation report.
After a cup of tea and a delicious cookie (Heritage Officer admits to having had at least seven of these throughout the day…) we heard some insightful provocations from HES staff, focusing on the listing and designation process with regards to locally important buildings and places, involving the community in the designation process (who are the ‘community’ anyway?), meanwhile uses of buildings, and demolition.
A strength of these heritage sector gatherings is that all involved bring their own expertise to a single topic, be it garden and landscape heritage, or archaeology from a local authority point of view. However, by the same token, a glossary of terms used by professionals may have been useful to aid understanding across the board.
Ultimately for me, the day’s proceedings boiled down to the dichotomy of recognition versus protection for listed buildings (although perhaps the two concepts needn’t be so opposed). And of course, the conversation turned to conservation areas a number of times throughout the day: the two concepts are inextricably linked. This served as a pertinent preamble to our own conference on conservation areas which will be taking place on Monday 27 November.
Meanwhile, it was fantastic to get a look inside the (now not so brand new but still very shiny) Engine Shed, HES’s building conservation hub. A giant map of Scotland filled the middle of the vast space. Viewed through the lens of special iPads, this map burst to life with augmented reality features highlighting different building types, stone composition and cultures among much else.
The other interactive exhibits on offer were thoroughly enjoyed, clearly appealing to the child-at-heart in us. The penny finally dropped for me in how a suspension bridge works whilst investigating a model, and Godsal and I never ceased to be amazed that our diligently-constructed arch bridge supported being traipsed over and sat on.
Just like the building construction methods on display at the Engine Shed, the topics of conversation spoke to resilience and sustainability, whilst embracing changing times. We look forward to seeing the result of the ‘What’s Your Heritage?’ report in the near future.