As an engineer, researcher and teacher I am interested in the complexity of technical operations and interfaces in design projects that enable historic buildings to enrich their architectural values for present and future generations.
I was trained as a civil engineer at the University of Patras and then I studied conservation at Rome Sapienza and Edinburgh. I teach architectural and conservation technology, and construction history at UG, PG and PhD levels and learning for me is the result of rich, direct experience and engagement with the matter, something I actually learnt from conservation. My research interests have become very broad regarding periods (prehistoric brochs in Scotland, Gothic vaults, modernist concrete shells, neoclassic fabric in Edinburgh). My approach to their conservation is contemporary and critical, and I study and teach concepts including structural stability and performance, construction culture, archaeology, conservation and repairs, technology transmission.
I explore connections between research and teaching in architectural technology and conservation, as pedagogically technology can offer a further array of tools and solutions to designers that increase choice and nurture creativity. Sustainable use of technology also supports a sensitive approach to the problem and the available material, human and cultural resources.
Technology & Environment 2: Building Fabric (ARCH08027).
Technical Study coordinator, Design Option 2, MA Design Year 4
Technology & Environment 3 (ARDE10002)
Dissertation supervisor, MEng/ BEng Structural Engineering with Architecture, and Civil Engineering
Culture and performance in the history of construction (ARCH11195)
Conservation Technology (AREA11017), MSc in Architectural Conservation
Lectures and dissertation supervision, MSc in Advanced Construction Systems, Technical University of Madrid
Historic Scotland Technical Conservation Summer School Programme, Stirling
Summer School in conservation of monumental and archaeological sites, Univ. of Rome “Tor Vergata”
Many of these lectures were distilled in my book Structural Design in Building Conservation, which shows how technical choices integrate with the planning and architectural proposition in a conservation project. It brings together theory with current conservation technology, discussing the possibilities of structural details and strategies in architectural expression. The book aims to be a companion textbook to my teaching, particularly directed at students of architectural conservation, but also practising engineers and architects.
Research Interests and Activities
My research is strongly cross-disciplinary, bringing new insight to problems of other specialisms by combining engineering analysis, conservation theory and project-based enquiry approaches from my experience in an Architecture teaching environment. My main tools in these studies are structural analysis (experimental and numerical), architectural analysis through modelling, plus the assessment of historical and cultural evolution processes.
The study of the design, technology and stability of iron-age brochs in northern Scotland is a pioneering collaborative project with AOC Archaeology along these lines. We work on models of various scales to understand global or local strength and stability or to test reconstruction and architectural hypotheses (proportions, internal layout, roof forms); as well as real technical and architectural problems like the preservation of the fragile stonework of Clachtoll in Sutherland.
A more technical approach drives my long-standing research into the technology of medieval vaulting systems. My initial study for Burgos Cathedral in Spain focused later on Britain, with the exploration of the construction characteristics and structural design of simple stone vaults in Scottish churches from the late medieval period until the early 18th century (Holyrood, Melrose, Dirleton, Dunglass, Seton) and the evolution of the rib vault (in the main vaults of Durham and Lincoln cathedrals). The study of the transfer of such technologies to Greece (the case of Saint Sophia in Andravida) reveals the potential of systems to be adapted in a culturally alien territory.
Sometimes no new knowledge is required except the systematic dissemination of existing good practice, as in the case of neoclassical Georgian stonework in Edinburgh. Through essential partnership with the Edinburgh City Council and Edinburgh World Heritage, training models of critical stonework systems were created (chimney, window surround, external staircase) to disseminate the complexity of the pathology and the range of modern solutions that can be applied, based on experience already acquired. The latest model focuses on common problems that appear on balustraded parapets and cornices.