Practice and theory in dialogue
Nigel Walter, founding director of Archangel, is a Specialist Conservation Architect active in both architectural practice and research. This section describes Nigel’s research, and how it informs and enriches Archangel’s approach to design, particularly with existing buildings. The core of that research is the development of a narrative- and tradition-based approach to conservation that does justice to living buildings, addressed in his recent monograph, Narrative Theory in Conservation (Routledge 2020).
Nigel’s doctoral research (2017, University of York) explored how the conservation process is experienced by those communities that animate and sustain living historic buildings, particularly medieval parish churches. With the philosopher Peter Lamarque he has subsequently explored this developing argument in the field of philosophical aesthetics. Other research interests include the relation of the architectural profession to conservation (including the Architectural Review and the Townscape movement), post-war/natural disaster reconstruction, buildings as practical theology, and the philosophical/theological issues surrounding historic buildings.
Nigel is as comfortable writing and speaking in a range of non-academic settings as in academia. He is actively involved in international conservation, and is a member of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committees on Places of Religion and Ritual (PRERICO) and Theory and Philosophy of Conservation and Restoration (TheoPhilos). He is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, and a Research Associate in the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York. In 2021 he was appointed as a trustee of the National Churches Trust.
Nigel’s current research focus concerns sustainability and heritage. The professional/practical aspect is currently focused on his role as chair of a joint working group developing sustainability guidance for church architects and surveyors with representatives of the Church Buildings Council and the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association. This guidance is due to be published in the first half of 2021. The academic aspect is expressed in the development of a second book project.
Far from being mere heritage attractions or functional spaces for religious worship, our churches are principally to do with people. The are inextricably tied to
Narrative Theory in Conservation engages with conservation, heritage studies, and architectural approaches to historic buildings, offering a synthesis of the best of each, and demonstrating that