Why do we need to restore our past? Do we need to conserve our buildings? These are some of the questions making us wonder why we need to conserve. Before we start thinking about that, Architectural marvels such as Pyramids, temples, or any historical remark, for instance, need to be preserved due to their vulnerability of getting affected by a natural calamity that could occur. 

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Earthen Heritage Conservation by Gayathri Hedge_©https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/earthen-heritage-conservation-a-perspective-from-india

When the environmental side rests on the conservational sites, it also undergoes effects from the place’s tourism and pollution. Even though tourism plays a vital role in promoting a place, it also has some adverse effects on the monument. 

For example, the pyramid of Giza has changed upon the tourist’s arrival, which has brought in humidity and water pressure to the space leading to erosion. Conserving our monuments for the future, plays an integral role in safeguarding our past, for future generations to cherish them. Day by day, as we are progressing a level ahead, Conservational architecture is being promoted and brought to the broader spectrum for us.

What is Architectural Conservation?

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The International Built Heritage Conservation Training Centre in Bonţida_©Europa Nostra

Architectural conservation is the process by which the material, historical context and design durability are achieved for protecting mankind’s architectural evolution to last longer and remain sustainable with time. There are many ways to conserve and the basic four ways which are important are rehabilitation, restoration, reconstruction and preservation. Not all countries fall in line with the four methods, while Canada only follows all the three except for reconstruction. It is often the whole teams’ efforts of individuals who carefully understand the concern of the monument and come up with the best restoration method possible. 

The decision-making relies on artistic and also contextual values. In some cases, the places don’t need any particular restoration at all to stay put. The form and style of the piece are the most reliable factors in deciding materials production, the effects on intervening, and the possible interventions which could be done to the piece. Though conservation is a societal need to conserve at times law formulations are indeed required, to make the individuals understand the richness of the past.  

Importance of conservation

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Heritage Conservation_©https://www.jmkfund.org/funds/historic-preservation/

It is indeed important in conserving our architectural parts from the past. To retain the cultural integrity of the place, we need to preserve it so that it will not disintegrate in the sands of time. In the case of environmental pollution, it reduces the possibility of introducing a new material rather than going along with the existing material. So, sometimes finding the ideal solutions that would suit the situation for the heritage building to survive in today’s world without deteriorating is an important fact to consider. 

The importance of the conservational project increases upon conservation. We can therefore save money, time and energy while conserving our project.

There are reasons behind conserving a project are, the need to preserve the significance of the object from deteriorating, secondly making alterations or additions wherever required and followed by helping one to understand the factor behind the construction style. In 1996, the US passed the National Historic Preservation Act, which indicates the critical part of conserving our monuments nationwide.

There also resides a big difference between understanding conservation and restoration. Conservation is applying techniques to document and stabilize the object’s state without further damage. On the other hand, restoration deals with more of an invasive process, its main intent is to restore the product and bring it back to its closer version of its original state, which often leads to loss of the historical context.

Benefits of pursuing Architectural Conservation as a career

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Hong Kong School of Architectural Conservationists_©http://acp.arch.hku.hk/Links/Links02.html

As a Conservation architect, one can develop skills, developing a sharp insight for observing, recording, documenting, analysing, understanding, and evaluating a historical building. The course prepares oneself to have a professional level knowledge about the subject. It also allows one to research and pursue a higher level of studies depending on one’s interest. The course makes you choose your desired field of interest while working from historic preservation, ranging from heritage management to conservational architecture. One can pursue their career, also practising as an academician in the field. Candidates from B. Tech (Structural, Civil), B. A in Archaeology, Bachelors in Interior Design, Bachelors in Urban Design or Planning can also pursue their masters in conservation architecture.

Masters in Architectural Conservational employment fields:

  • Architectural conservation firms
  • Colleges and universities
  • Construction industry
  • Construction Maintenance Companies
  • Housing Planning Departments

Masters in Architectural Conservational Job opportunities:

  • Architectural Conservator
  • Architectural Engineer
  • Architectural Technician
  • Architectural Theoretician
  • Architecture Professor
  • Building Control Officer
  • Building Inspector

Top 5 universities to pursue Architectural Conservation

1. The Courtauld Institute of Art, UK

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The Courtauld Institute of Art, UK_©https://courtauld.ac.uk/news-blogs/2016/courtauld-ranked-first-art-history/

The Courtauld Institute was built in 1932 and is a part of the University of London and specializes in the field of majors in the history of art and conservation. In the years 2011 and 17, The Guardian University ranked number one in the course History of art. The alumni have been working in positions like becoming directors in major museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art & Museo del Prado (Madrid). 

The Institute also offers other courses like MA in Buddhist Art: History & Conservation, MA in Conservation of Wall Painting, PG. Dip in Conservation of Easel Paintings, etc., which includes significant fieldwork and travel opportunities.

The MA course has a 3-year duration and as for overseas students, the fee is approximately £23,000 per annum. On gaining experience in the field one can earn up to £35,000-£45,000 in the UK.

2. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

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University of Amsterdam_©https://scholarshipsandaid.org/2018/02/02/scholarships-at-university-of-amsterdam-in-netherlands-2018/

The University of Amsterdam is the only Dutch university that is offering courses in heritage restoration & conservation. The MA. heritage courses have diverse specifications like Museum Studies, Heritage & Memory Studies, Archival Sciences, Museum Curator, Preservation & Presentation of Moving Image. The MA in Archaeology course also offers three specializations, Landscape & Heritage, Mediterranean Archaeology, Archaeology of North-Western Europe.

The fees structure for international students is approximately 15,000 Euros and begins €1,084 alone for the statutory fees. The courses are a maximum 1 or 2-year time duration. On gaining experience in the field one can earn starting from £35,000 and more.

3. The University of Sydney, Australia

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The University of Sydney, Australia_©https://www.studyabroad.sg/university-of-sydney/

The University of Sydney is the first university to offer a Master’s program in heritage conservation (MHeritCons) in the Asia Pacific. The course enables students to understand how to work with valuable heritage, along with its significance and construction. Graduates can work as consultants, social commentators and historians. They have also been employed in urban planning, government councils, and so on.

The course duration is about 1.5 years. For students commencing the course, the fee for the first year will be 38,500 AUD.

4. University of California, Los Angeles, US

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University of California, Los Angeles_©https://www.ucla.edu/

The University of California offers an interdisciplinary course in MA degree in Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, jointly with The Getty Institute. The 3-year duration of the course is administered through the Cotsen Institute of Archeology. The course structure consists of 2 years of coursework, with a 10-week summer internship between the 1st & 2nd year. In the 3rd year, students can take on a 9-month internship.

UCLA offers a few fellowships exclusively for MA students, including the Graduate Opportunity Fellowship. Outside funding sources include Jakob K. Javits Fellowships and the George Stout Grant. In the US one can earn from 51,000 USD/month on experience.

5. Tulane University, US

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Tulane University, US_©https://tclf.org/tulane-university

Tulane University offers both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in preservation studies. The Master of Preservation Studies has four main branches of learning consisting of preservation and planning, technology, theory or law and architectural history. But the program focuses in context with urban preservation within the rich historical context of New Orleans.

The Master’s degree is over three semesters (1.5 years) and costs approximately 32000 USD per year. In the US one can earn from 51,000 USD/month on experience.

If one wants to pursue in India, they can opt for SPA Delhi and Cept university that offers a surplus amount of knowledge towards this field in Master’s degree.

Online courses one can opt-in Architectural Conservation

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Online courses_©https://www.thestar.com/business/personal_finance/2014/03/14/online_courses_from_worlds_best_schools_offer_enrichment_for_free.html

1. Diploma in Architectural Conservation and Historic  Preservation

This Architectural Conservation and Historic Preservation course will give one an insight into comprehensive learning towards the history of world heritage sites, the techniques by which they are identified, conserved and rehabilitated. In this free online course, one can know about architectural conservation and historic preservation and what led to the causes of decay in cultural or historic sites. 

Knowledge gained from opting for this course will help in the easy acknowledgement of heritage properties, preparation of conservation documents and comprehension of famous historical stories, including the story of the leaning tower of Pisa, etc.

2. RIBA conservation course

The RIBA conservation course takes place for six webinars. The main intent of the course is to make architects and other construction professionals who wish to develop their specialism in conservation architecture and wants to develop practical knowledge and skills in conservation. They need to provide evidence to support their application onto the RIBA Conservation Register and other accredited schemes. Members of RIBA get a 50% discount on the total fees.

3.  University of York, MA in English building History

In the history of English architecture, one can explore a variety of building styles, ranging from vernacular dwellings to the Country manor and indulge in learning how they were shaped and developed by the societies surrounding them.

This master’s program offers a solid ground that could be a critical part of variable positions within the archaeology, art and heritage sectors and beyond. It also provides sound knowledge for further doctoral research and may also function as valuable CPD for varied professional qualifications associated with the English Building History to support career promotion. Tuition fees are £3,040.00 (3,13,875) per year, it’s a 3-year course either done online or distance programs are available.


Designlike.com. 2020. What is Architectural Conservation? – Interior Design, Design News and Architecture Trends. [online] Available at: <https://designlike.com/what-is-architectural-conservation/> [Accessed 15 August 2021].

Conservation?, W., 2021. What is Architectural Conservation?. [online] ierek news. Available at: <https://www.ierek.com/news/index.php/2017/06/24/architectural-2/> [Accessed 15 August 2021].

Targetstudy.com. 2021. M.Arch. (Architectural Conservation), Master of Architecture in Architectural Conservation, Syllabus, Eligibility, Duration, Degree Course. [online] Available at: <https://targetstudy.com/courses/march-architectural-conservation.html> [Accessed 15 August 2021].


Prakriti is an Architecture graduate from MCE, Chennai. She is an enthusiastic person and is passionate towards writing perspectives that are profound and narrative. She gets fascinated by Tadao Ando’s minimalistic approach and loves to explore new avenues of architecture in a sustainable manner.