Masonry Repair Options and Their Philosophical Ramifications

  • Alan M. Forster
Conference paper
Part of the RILEM Bookseries book series (RILEM, volume 7)


It would be assumed that a survey of a masonry structure would result in the production of an objective report. This situation cannot necessarily be guaranteed as the experience and understanding of masonry deteriorology and repair will vary from practitioner to practitioner. The difference in reporting will clearly determine alterative starting positions for the repair works, with divergence in the project potentially occurring when philosophical tenets are applied. The selection of repairs can be significantly influenced by the different professional’s philosophical perspectives that can be broadly categorised as, purist, pragmatist and cynic. These perspectives may direct the approach to repair, placing emphasis of the intervention towards what is of greatest perceived value to the practitioner; for example, honesty over aesthetic integrity and vice versa. This paper investigates how and why projects may start at a subjective point (although perceived as being relatively objective) and be prone to further divergence when building conservation philosophies are applied. This situation would go some way in explaining why two professionals would be confronted with the same structure, yet the outcome of the finished repair project could be significantly different.


Minimal Intervention Lime Mortar Masonry Material Lead Professional Philosophical Stance 
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Copyright information

© RILEM 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of the Built EnvironmentHeriot-Watt UniversityEdinburghScotland, UK

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