Masonry Repairs

I am always surprised at how at just well traditional buildings manage to cope with distress. Long after modern construction would have given up, traditional materials hang in there.

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Weathered Chimney head repairs Forres MAAC Studio conservation architect

Chimney Heads

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Modern materials are artificial, highly processed, composite materials. They are taken from nature, broken apart then stuck back together again to “improve” performance. They are used at the limits of their strength and stiffness, which means reduced flexibility. When buildings move and settle with over time and are stressed by the weather, they struggle to adjust. When they fail, they fail quickly.

Traditional materials are used, more or less, in their natural state, with minimal processing. They may not have optimal structural efficiency – having more strength and being bulkier than required - but this reduces their carbon footprint and allows them to flex and adapt to changes that take place while still functioning well.

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Damaged stone on chimney Forres MAAC Studio architect

Fractured stone in Chimney Head

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We anticipated a bit of repair and maintenance to this chimney. It looked in reasonable condition, but when repair work begins, we begin to see just how much of an impact the weather has had. 150 years battling with the highland weather has taken its toll, not helped by fixings for an aerial. Up close it looks bad but once our stone mason has tidied it all up, replaced a couple of stone blocks and repointed the joints, it will be fit for another 150 years.

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This wall should have collapsed a long time ago, but its still hanging in there. Small masonry units can flex and move. The lime mortar may crack but free lime, exposed to the air and moisture will slake and reform as a cohesive mortar again.

Inspite of neglect and financial penalties, our historic buildings still remain. Testament to the skill and hard work of tradesmen that built them. Their durability and low carbon imprint, makes them a great opportunity to address issues environmental and climate challenges.

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MAAC studio are accredited conservation architects and principal designers working with traditional buildings throughout Scotland. 

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