The many faces of conservation

Solid Structures has been involved with four conservation projects which have been short listed for the Oxford Preservation Trust Awards 2019 (OPT 2019). The broad range of projects shortlisted for these prestigious awards have made us contemplate the different nuances of the word conservation or preservation.

Conservation as preservation of the old

Traditionally, conservation meant to preserve, to retain, to protect from damage. The Westgate Tiles is a prime example of this train of thought.

The tiles were discovered by Oxford Archaeology during the south excavations which saw up to 50 dedicated archaeologists working on site to reveal the extensive remains of the medieval Greyfriars friary (AD 1244-1538) during the construction. The works was recognised by the British Archaeological Awards as ‘Best Archaeological Project 2016’.


 The display work was completed by the specialist heritage contractor Cliveden Conservation in time for the opening of the shopping centre in October 2017. Solid Structures designed the steel frame work to aid sequencing of the restored tiled panels ensuring the finished structure and fixings would not be visible.


Conservation as contemporary interpretation of the old

Our second OPT 2019 short listed project, The Pre-Prep addition to Summer Fields School is echoing the massing of the adjacent buildings whilst simple windows punch holes in the metal facade in a rhythm similar to its neighbours’.

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Despite the references to its historical context, the addition is undeniably contemporary, adding to the richness of its surrounds. Visit our projects pages for more information on this project.

Conservation as technological enhancement of the old

At St Peter’s College, we were asked to assist with acoustic improvements to the dining facilities at the Grade 2 listed Hannington Hall built around 1832. Due to the barrel vault shape of the hall, there were areas with acoustic dead spots and areas with distorted sound throughout the hall.


The problem was overcome with the introduction of acoustic panels fixed to a light weight metal framework between the ribbed roof rafters. In this case technological intervention, sympathetically applied, helped conserve the hall for use for many more generations.


Conservation as placemaking, year xero in history

Solid Structures’ Civils team has been involved in the access road design of the Science Oxford Centre and Wood Centre for Innovation, also shortlisted for the OPT 2019. This development, set in an eighteen acre woodland site in Headington, puts sustainable placemaking at the centre if its design philosophy.


Good design combined with sustainable building technologies provide a fantastic facility to local residents, primary education and science and technology development companies. Here, conservation is interpreted as sustainable future proofing through education, training and research.