An educational journey through building conservation

Does our shared cultural heritage have a place in an individualised, globalised, multicultural society? Is building conservation a matter of general education or a pastime for the upper classes? These are some of the questions addressed by town antiquarian Henrik Ranby in his book Henriks byggnadsvård – Kulturarvsarbete mellan teori och praktik (‘Henrik’s building conservation – Cultural heritage work between theory and practice’).

Twenty-five years ago, he qualified as a building conservationist and began his working life. Now he is summarising his experiences in a book.
“My theory is that this type of work requires an interaction between theory and practice. You need to be able to combine theory with practical knowledge.”

Writing down and documenting professional experiences is nothing unique in itself, but this is the first time such a task has been undertaken by a building conservationist. The book is an educational novel, and is already being used in education at the University of Gothenburg. It includes a discussion on the position of our cultural environmental values today.
“The situation is contradictory,” says Henrik. “In recent years there has been a real breakthrough for conservation, as it involves issues that people are interested in. But at the same time, for example, Swedish schools have put less emphasis on historical and aesthetic subjects. Increased globalisation and individualisation can stand in opposition to conservation interests.”

Despite this, he believes that there have been many positive developments within the field in recent years.
“For example, there are now building conservation centres offering products and advice relating to conservation. And in the last ten years, publications have provided an important and easily accessible source of information about conservation.”

In future, Henrik will be sharing his experiences in other ways than through his book. He will soon also be meeting with students on an ongoing basis, having been awarded a senior lectureship at the Department of Conservation.
“It’s important to introduce practical knowledge into education. That’s something I’m looking forward to, as well as the opportunity to carry out research. If I’m halfway through my working life now, volume two of my book will have to wait until my retirement.”

Henrik Ranby

1-2014-henrikranbyEducation: Master’s degree in conservation specialising in building conservation at the University of Gothenburg, 1988. Doctoral degree in history of art at Lund University, 2002.
Born: in Helsingborg
Work: Town antiquarian in Höganäs. He will shortly begin working as a senior lecturer at the Department of Conservation.
Latest news: His book Henriks byggnadsvård – Kulturarvsarbete mellan teori och praktik has been published by the Department of Conservation. Each chapter deals with a different perspective: training, renovating a crofter’s cottage, working for a municipality and studying for a doctoral degree. Each chapter also focuses on a building – anything from a cathedral or university to buildings in suburbs.