The Heritage Artisan Training Program has been delivered by Applied Building Conservation Training since 2009 in collaboration with the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and the South Australian Construction Industry Training Board. The program arose from a national study of dying artisan crafts and trades within the construction industry, and addresses skill gaps in existing training curriculums across tertiary and vocational institutions.
Between 2009 and 2016, more than 25 courses with approximately 750 attendees have been presented. Courses have been generally run on state or local heritage-listed structures, with a focus on regional areas. The evolving course content has diversified to cater for increased industry interest from tradespersons, planners, engineers and architects. This growing interest reflects the increasing recognition that traditional construction material use is more advantageous and environmentally sustainable in general construction. Some courses have also been undertaken as part of adaptive re-use projects, where severely dilapidated historic structures have been adapted to a new use with a substantial commercial return through tourist accommodation.
The curriculum is anchored within the principles of the Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance, The Burra Charter, 2013, which defines the basic principles and procedures to be followed in the conservation of Australian heritage places. Courses are run with a theory component as a knowledge base. The theory is then put into practice on real structures needing conservation.
Topics covered include traditional architectural stonemasonry, lath and plaster, lime renders, traditional methods of construction, identifying stone, lime mortar technology, timber conservation, traditional metal fabrication, dry stone walling, and the use of modern technologies within traditional construction.
Each participant receives a certificate of completion that is endorsed by DEWNR and the Construction Industry Training Board, making participants eligible to submit tenders for government works on state heritage-listed buildings.
The most successful program to date has been the Inneston Village Program at Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula. Inneston village was a small gypsum mining town that began in 1913 and lasted until the depression years of the 1930s. As the mining works became more established, the company built stone cottages for its managers and workers. During the past 4 years, the Heritage Artisan Training Programs have worked to conserve these buildings with the support of local tradespeople, apprentices in the construction industry and national park rangers. Four historic buildings have been conserved and are being used for tourist accommodation, thereby generating revenue.
The program, which was recognised in 2013 with the South Heritage Heroes Award for valued contribution to the conservation of South Australia’s heritage and the recording of its history, shows how creation of demand and government-funded conservation programs can facilitate transmission of vital heritage trade skills to future generations.
Source: Keith McAllister, Managing Director, CEO, Applied Building Conservation Training Pty Ltd