PhD Candidate John Barber – New date! Tuesday the 2nd February

Poster design, Kostas Avramadis

Poster design, Kostas Avramadis

Statics and Dynamics in the Conservation of Drystone Buildings
John Barber

5pm, 2.13, Evolution House

ALL WELCOME !! with our usual drinks reception


With over forty years’ experience across the heritage industry ranging from field excavation to the presentation of archaeological sites and monuments, John has spent the last two decades working in Scottish monumental remains. Moving to Scotland in 1977, he worked in Historic Scotland for fourteen years, latterly as the Senior Field Archaeologist, managing their Archaeological Operations and Conservation (AOC) Unit. He left in 1991 to form AOC Archaeology Group, of which he remains Chairman. He has extensive experience of archaeology and heritage in the planning process. John is a specialist in the field of Cultural Resource Management and acts as archaeological consultant to a wide client portfolio, on projects ranging from commercial developments to community-led and Heritage Lottery Fund supported projects. John is currently a PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh’s ESALA, focussing on the drystone engineering and architecture of Scottish Iron Age brochs, several of which he has excavated.


Stated in caricature, my theme is that archaeologists, who predominantly focus on the preservation of ancient monuments, and architects, who mainly focus on their capacity for reuse, both undertake conservation as snapshots of the past that inadequately represent the dynamics of the biographies of structures. This formulation is examined and a way forward is proposed. My test cases are drystone-built monuments; structures whose structural integrity mainly relies on the management of static compressive loads. The monument in each case, it is argued, comprises its fabric, its enclosed spaces and its interactive landscape context. One case study is a Neolithic chambered cairn (4000 BC to 2000 BC), at Warehouse South, in Caithness, which is currently undergoing conservation and other examples are drawn from the writer’s PhD study of Scottish Iron Age broch towers (300 BC to AD 400). Widely separated in time, these monument-types share a common building technology and complex, if different use-histories. The monuments, once built, became dynamic foci in living landscapes and were modified over time to meet new social needs; these modifications sometimes being separated by natural deposits formed in periods of abandonment. Evidence for their dynamics is embedded in the remains albeit that existing paradigms seem to block its observation.  Representing developing monumental forms, these dynamics characterise a sequence of people/place relationships that present a challenge to conservation. Many charters argue, in terms, that the yardstick by which a monument’s cultural value is measured lies in its ability to inform this and future generations about the human condition. Conserving cultural value is the nominal objective of conservation. However, the end-use intention of the Conservator has emerged as a strong influence on the way in which cultural value is perceived and measured. The speaker will assert that Conservator intent is a potent factor determining the position on the contemporary preservation/reuse spectrum at which the conservation programme will sit; archaeologists more generally find themselves at one terminus of this spectrum with architects more commonly at the other, although both may work along the full range of the spectrum. Finally, the dynamics of monumental development interleaved with natural deposition converts large complex monuments to cultural landscapes and in this may lie our best guide to the most appropriate conservation-theory context for them. The language surrounding Historic Urban Landscapes in particular seems apt for our treatment of Large Complex Monuments and the methodologies of Cultural Landscape studies seem applicable to both.


Dr Patrik Schumacher


Prokalo is very happy to confirm that Dr Patrik Schumacher, Director of Zaha Hadid Architects will speak at Prokalo on the 23rd of February 2016.

To welcome in the New Year PROKALO welcomes Tahl Kaminer!

Critique and co-optation

Photo: Isabelle Doucet

Photo: Isabelle Doucet, poster design: Konstantinos Avramidis

Tuesday the 19th of January, 5pm 

2.13, Evolution House

Snacks and Drinks as always! – Open to all UG, PG, PGR and Staff


The resilience of capitalism and its ability to counter critique and address or repress discontent was visible in the last years in the deflection of post-crisis critique, expectations and political pressures, re-emerging triumphantly with ‘austerity’ as an ideological weapon. While such resilience frustrates radicals, the phenomenon that perplexes oppositional movements the most is, arguably, co-optation (récupération).

The process of co-optation includes a ‘hijacking of ideas’, the reaction by state or capitalism to critique and threats not by exclusion, but by a selective inclusion that transforms the threat to a more benign, palatable idea. Récupération is thus a weapon against critique, even of the most amiable kind, a means of producing non-substantive change in which power structures and relations of production remain static. The proposed paper will outline a theory of the process of societal integration of peripheral and oppositional ideas on an ideological and political level, identifying the manner in which architecture played a role in dissolving the threat of critique.


Tahl Kaminer is currently Lecturer in Architectural Design and Theory. Tahl completed his PhD at TU Delft in 2008, and was Assistant Professor before relocating to Edinburgh in 2012. He received his MSc Architecture Theory and History from the Bartlett in 2003. Tahl is a co-founder of the academic journalFootprint, where he was production editor from 2007-12, and co-editor of three issues. In 2011, Routledge published his monograph Architecture, Crisis and Resuscitation. In 2004 he co-founded the non-profit foundation 66 East, which ran twenty exhibitions, multiple screenings, events and lectures in a space in east Amsterdam.

Tahl’s research has two main tracks. The first focuses on the role of the discipline and practice of architecture in society. It studies the manner in which architecture is determined by political economy, ideology, and politics, and the manner in which it affects them. The second track studies the means of social amelioration via urban transformation.





Happy new year from the PROKALO team!

Our first seminar will take place on the 19th of January at 5pm in room 2.13 Evolution House. Of Course our usual snacks and drinks will be available. Please note that in the coming weeks some of our seminars will be starting at the later time of 7pm due to the Chancellors fellow seminars that will be taking place at our normal time.

Please see below for a list of all speakers for this term and notes of changed time or location.

All the best,

The Prokalo Team

19th Jan – Tahl Kaminer, University of Edinburgh, 5pm
2nd Feb – John Barber, The University of Edinburgh – 5pm
16th Feb – Jilly Traganou, Parsons School of design/ The New School 5pm
23rd Feb – Patrik Schumacher, Director Zaha Hadid Architects, 5pm – different location – WATCH THIS SPACE!
8th Mar – cancelled
22nd Mar – Alex Collins, University of Edinburgh -later time of 7pm, same location
19th April – Dr Richard Milgrom – University of Manitoba/ The Centre for Human Rights Research, 5pm
3rd May – Tiago Torres Campo, University of Edinburgh, 5pm
17th May – Dimitra Ntzani, University of Edinburgh, 5pm