Handling Heritage: Maintenance as Catalyst for longevity & Taylors College

Maintenance is a term closely associated with heritage places and is essential in preserving places deemed significant. Maintenance unlike restoration aims to retain what is already there – to preserve. The Burra charter defines maintenance in Article 1, section 1.5 as:

“Maintenance means the continuous protective care of a place, and its setting.”[1]

But why do we maintain a building? The simple answer, regardless of the buildings significance, is that it provides a space which is useful to us – it remains relevant. If the building is heritage listed and remains useful, maintenance can be and is in the case of Taylors college, the best form of handling heritage.

Taylors College, located at 50 Goldsworthy road in Claremont is a part of the University of Western Australia’s Claremont Campus.[2] The significance of the federation gothic style building comes from the role it has had in education in Western Australia over the past 116 years. The college was originally a teacher’s college, training education professionals for many years. The College was purchased from Edith Cowan University by The University of Western Australia in 2004 and is currently occupied by The Australian Music Examination Board (AMEB), The Centre for English Language Teaching as well as the building housing foundation courses for International UWA students.

This is a place which has provided training for educators and thus an education to Western Australians for decades.

As well as it’s historic significance in the role of Education in WA, the building also has technological significance, being the first public building in WA to use Donny Brook Sandstone in its construction. I was asked as a part of a Conservation unit run by Dr Ingrid Van Bremen, to complete a condition report on Taylors College and found the building to be well maintained considering its age and size.

The buildings location within the UWA bounds, its original use as an education facility and consequential layout has resulted in the buildings prolonged relevance. Unlike the Fremantle Power Station, the building, over time, has remained useful in almost its original state. The college moreover is owned by UWA and it is in their interest to preserve the building so that it can continue to be utilised as a part of the UWA campus. The building offers several classrooms and a lecture theatre in which UWA can run classes and house students.

It may be said that such buildings – education buildings, are built to last. In this sense, they are more suited to maintenance as a form of conservation practice. In contrast, buildings such as the Fremantle Power Station and the alike, are built to house the development of industry and when that industry slows or becomes irrelevant, so does the built fabric that contains it.

The type of building – weather it be industrial or education, consequently requires a specific program and building typology. The building typology – a result of its required use, too contributes considerably to the successfulness of maintenance as a form of conservation. Elements of the college such as the use of stone and timber, fine detailing and craftsmanship, position the college as a place of aesthetic value and one which, if maintained, offers an intact example of an education building of its time and demonstrates the prolonged value placed on education in Western Australia. In contrast, an industrial building or warehouse can more readily become irrelevant, with changes in economy and industry shifting the need for these large, and often isolated spaces.

It is unknown how long Taylors college will remain useful, with its human scale not necessarily offering the capacity of a modern education building. It is known however, that the college does presently offer a pleasant reminder of the craftsmanship and value placed on education buildings architecturally in our culture, with its facade being rich in detail and its halls filled with a sense of tradition and honour.

 

 

 

All images are by the author.

 

 

 

[1] Australian ICOMOS. “The Burra Charter.” http://australia.icomos.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Burra-Charter-2013-Adopted-31.10.2013.pdf. Accessed 19/07/2017

[2] The University of Western Australia. “Campuses.” http://www.web.uwa.edu.au/university/campuses. Accessed 19/08/2017

 

 

 

Sources:

Australian ICOMOS. “The Burra Charter.” http://australia.icomos.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Burra-Charter-2013-Adopted-31.10.2013.pdf. Accessed 19/07/2017

ABC. “Victorian Tudor grandeur stands test of time at Claremont Teachers College.” Accessed 19/07/2017

Edith Cowan University Research Online. “Twenty-five years: a history of Claremont Teachers College 1952 – 1977.” http://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7790&context=ecuworks. Accessed 19/08/2017

The University of Western Australia. “Campuses.” http://www.web.uwa.edu.au/university/campuses. Accessed 19/08/2017