I think the escalating level of nonsense coming out of English Heritage right now is coming to a crescendo!
Trinity College in Cambridge has been the focus of a report by the Telegraph newspaper. It explains how that the 200 year old, Grade 1 listed building, in an effort to improve it’s quickly falling standards of living, has had approval for installing specials types of double glazed units. It has also implemented other measures like solar panels, heat recovery systems and and so, in an effort to keep heat inside the building, so it’s tenants can have some sort of decent living standards. But English Heritage and the National Trust, being as they are, have launched an appeal against the approval.
The National Trust comments that it has insulated every mansion in Wales and installed solar panels on a 700 year old building. This is commendable, but you can just hide behind the least intrusive and face-changing methods of energy efficiency. The fact is that old, cold, drafty windows have a massive impact on the direct living conditions on the people in that room or building. By objecting to the changes, they are both basically saying that keeping the old crappy glass is more important to them than the well-being of the people that live inside that building.
Cambridge Council had approved the installation of a particular type of glass called histoglass. Histoglass are very thin double glazed units which are made to look old by making it look like the old uneven surfaces of glass of old. I’ve never seen it, but the Telegraph reporter says that when she saw it, she couldn’t distinguish between the two different types. So if English Heritage and the National Trust are worried about the image of the building being damaged, then surely this histoglass product is an ideal solution? What I find even more frustrating is that they think that secondary glazing is a decent alternative. It’s not. Secondary glazing looks awful (my opinion) and does nothing for any building in any circumstance. Yes it might help keep the heat in, but they’re not practical and they are cumbersome.
The fact they’ve rejected this shows that they have less of a human connection and place a building as more important – which to me is absolutely baffling. Buildings exist to serve us, not the other way round. Yes it is important to recognize the significance and their importance, but not to the point where living conditions inside the building are less than favorable for the inhabitant. By 2018, many grade 1 and 2 listed buildings with rented space will have to comply to energy laws passed in 2011.
Because a complaint has been lodged, the final decision now has to go to the desk of the Secretary of State. A needless move which will now only delay the improvement of the Trinity College.
It is situations like this which leave me angry and frustrated with these sorts of heritage organizations. Yes they do great things up and down the country when it comes to our public spaces, forests and so on. But when it comes to historic buildings, they just seem to flatly refuse to listen to common sense and acknowledge that technology and products have moved on. So much so that to make modifications to these historic buildings would preserve perfectly (assuming they are fitted correctly) their character and aesthetics.
You can find the original piece here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/greenproperty/9811647/Eco-living-window-wars-at-Trinity-College-Cambridge.html