CABE 2024 Awards: sharing historical knowledge is key, says winner ACP

ACP redeveloped the engine shed at Ceannt Station in Galway

CABE 2024 award winner Architectural Conservation Professionals (ACP) believes in leading by example and sharing historical knowledge.

ACP is a multi-disciplinary built heritage consultancy with offices worldwide and headquarters in Limerick, Ireland. David Humphreys FCABE, its Founder and Group Director, returned to Ireland following a number of years with English Heritage and saw a lack of knowledge and understanding of historic structures. Since 2000, ACP has promoted traditional building engineering and repair methods in keeping with best conservation practice. ACP understands that we are custodians of historic structures, and that support and education must be provided to the next generation so they can continue to protect them.

It is for the same reason that each year the company sets aside a percentage of its annual turnover for CPD courses for all its staff members. It also approves the time and resources for staff to undertake these courses. This applies to all staff members, regardless of the time spent with the company. In recent years, ACP staff members have undertaken CABE courses in structural engineering and a postgraduate course in fire safety and adobe construction, while several staff members have been supported to achieve chartered building engineer status. In addition, many of the staff work on committees in their personal time to promote building engineering standards in Ireland.

Leading by example, Humphreys trained under a Dutch master blacksmith so he could have both a better understanding of the craft and the ability to better assess and specify repairs to historic iron structures, such as 19th-century railway buildings. He promotes the craft and provides training for staff and other built heritage professionals in his own forge that is attached to the office.

He says: “It is only by providing these additional courses to our staff members that we can ensure we are providing the best services to all our clients both here in Ireland and internationally. ACP is passionate about our built heritage and the positive impact building engineers have within the construction industry. ACP continues to support, guide and encourage building engineers.”

The award

While this award applies mainly to the training and development of its in-house staff, ACP believes it has a responsibility to the wider profession, as well as teenagers and/or college students who wish to understand traditional fabric and building techniques. ACP regularly collaborates with educational institutions and has provided internship opportunities for overseas students from Jordan, France, Germany, Texas in the US, Toronto in Canada and Brazil. They welcome the opportunity to share knowledge of Ireland’s traditional built heritage.

ACP Founder and Group Director David Humphreys is the Chair of the Conservation Working Group in the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland and is the Irish Representative on several international built heritage committees, including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Building Conservation Steering Group and the Edinburgh Group. He was also awarded CABE Building Engineer of the Year.

ACP also welcomes students undertaking work experience in secondary-level education. Its staff have had a huge impact on these students, four of whom have gone on to engineering/construction courses in third-level education. ACP understands that to continue to achieve excellence within the built environment and raise standards “we must guide, encourage and support fellow co-workers and the next generation”.

The judges commented: “ACP’s internship and student programme is impressive, educating others on the importance of traditional building engineering solutions and how these can be applied throughout the built environment. We noted how the business founder principally invests in his own development too – training with a master blacksmith, building a forge in the grounds of the office and helping a number of students and professional engineers, including chartered building engineers, to develop their technical skills in relation to historic ironwork.”

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