“ACP is informed by current international debates, research and publications – and offers students unique learning opportunities through its internationally-recognized staff and world-wide training opportunities.”
Conservation is now recognised worldwide as an important component of sustainable development, particularly in cities undergoing rapid development. There is increasing demand and scope for research and practice in conservation as cities around the world recognise the need for more rigorous professional requirements based on international best practice specified in international charters and conventions.
Coinciding with the emergence of built-heritage conservation as a distinct academic and professional field in Asia, ACP was first established in 2000 in the Faculty of Architecture as an academic unit offering two integrated, self-funded postgraduate programmes, the MSc(Conservation) and PDip(Conservation). The unit, then known as the “Architectural Conservation Programme” (abbreviated as ACP, which has since become a recognised brand name both locally and in the region), heralded the first conservation-dedicated postgraduate programme among all universities in China, and anticipated the development of the profession locally by being seven years ahead of Hong Kong’s Built Heritage Conservation Policy, which was announced and implemented in 2007.
In 2012, to address and support the growing professional field, ACP expanded to include a UGC-funded undergraduate programme, the BA(Conservation), and a materials-based conservation laboratory for teaching and research, known as the Architectural Conservation Laboratory (ACLab). Most recently, in 2015, the expanded ACP became the Division of Architectural Conservation Programmes, maintaining its established, abbreviated brand name of “ACP.”
Today, ACP has become internationally recognised for its academic excellence through its active educational, professional practice and research collaborations with government agencies, inter-governmental organisations and professional institutes. It is also recognised as the driving force behind the education and professionalization of architectural conservation as well as the shaping of conservation policies in Hong Kong.
This has been made possible through the dedicated core and adjunct teaching staff of ACP, who are well-known and experienced professionals in the field of architectural conservation. ACP also relies on, and benefits from, an extensive network of international and local experts in various areas of heritage conservation, including academics, practitioners and senior government officials involved in heritage conservation-related projects. As a result, students (whether undergraduate or at the graduate level) are exposed to, and learn from, the first-hand experience of professionals, who are able to share the latest thinking in the field and all of the associated challenges.
“ACP provides a broad understanding of conservation practice in Asia, especially in China, and anchors this understanding in up-to-date international best practice while staying ahead of the knowledge curve by thinking out of the box in the way theory is applied in practice.”
Since 2004, ACP has advanced the pedagogy of conservation under the framework of sustainable development. Such a direction has proven to be visionary, as it was only in 2011 that UNESCO published the document on Historic Urban Landscape (HUL), a strategic approach that considers heritage conservation as a key component in achieving the sustainable development of the urban built-environment. The publication of UNESCO’s HUL approach in 2011 coincided with the announcement of the Paris Declaration on Heritage as a Driver for Development by the UNESCO-affiliated International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) at the ICOMOS 17th General Assembly in the same year.
Through the ideas of two of the world’s leading inter-governmental agencies – UNESCO and ICOMOS – it is increasingly clear that for built-heritage conservation to make a significant contribution towards the global vision of a sustainable built-environment, it has to be aligned with the sustainable development agenda, focusing in areas that are directly relevant to the long-term strategic needs of developing cities. In this regard, the concept of sustainable development has to be expanded to include the consideration of heritage properties as reusable land resources, and conservation as a sustainable form of property development by means of extending the life-cycle of heritage buildings – one that increases value to existing properties without taking up new land resources and destroying existing communities.
In 2015, ACP aligned its teaching focus in the technological and managerial aspects of built-heritage conservation with that of the Department of Real Estate and Construction. This new synergy enables ACP to better demonstrate the importance of conservation-cum-development as a model for the growth of cities in the 21st century. By doing so, ACP will further its stature as a world leader in the theory and practice of built-heritage conservation.