Time to celebrate ‘research… in heritage and conservation practice’: SAHGB-IHBC Heritage Research Award closes 1/09/23

The IHBC is delighted to announce the opening of the 2023 joint Award with the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB) celebrating ‘the quality of architectural-historical research.. in heritage and conservation practice’, now open for submissions and closing end August 2023.

… we constantly enjoin decision-makers and  applicants to be fully in command of the facts…

IHBC’s nominated judge Matthew Saunders said: ‘Research is at a premium these days, as we constantly enjoin decision-makers and  applicants to be fully in command of the facts.’

‘It is a privilege to be part of the process which will ensure that the best in the field are recognised’.

…recognises….the quality of architectural-historical research…

SAHGB & IHBC write:

This award – a joint venture between the SAHGB and IHBC – recognises and celebrates the quality of architectural-historical research produced by colleagues in heritage and conservation practice, as private consultants or on behalf of Non-Governmental Organisations, public bodies or comparable clients. Research undertaken for statements of significance, conservation management plans, listing, other forms of statutory protection, and to directly inform decision making in the planning and wider heritage sphere makes a significant, but all too often under-recognised contribution to the discipline and indeed to the quality of the historic environment. Moreover, methodological reflection on this work, and on heritage and preservationism more widely, adds much to practice of architectural history. Our Heritage Research Award will provide an opportunity to understand better the diversity of this work, celebrate the very best of the research that goes into it, and make it better known to other professionals and the public.

The Award celebrates research and critical reflection.  It excludes specifically consideration, assessment or endorsement of any plans, projects, sites, advocacy or arbitration etc. linked in ANY way to the research, or the success, merits, demerits or otherwise of resulting advice, decisions or interventions.  This separation between research and conservation outcomes mirrors the separation that the IHBC recognises between the advice given by an IHBC member to a client or employer and the potential decisions and outcomes that ultimately may be associated with that advice.

… Winning work will receive a medallion…. [and] offered a free place at the corresponding IHBC Annual School…

Winning work will receive a medallion, to be presented at the SAHGB’s Annual Awards Ceremony. Winners will also be offered a free place at the corresponding IHBC Annual School. Additionally, we may contact winning researchers to request a feature for publishing on the Society’s website or members’ magazine.

Judging Panel:

  • John Cattell FSA IHBC (National Head of Research, Historic England  (Chair)
  • Kathryn A Morrison FSA (Independent scholar and former joint head of Historic Places Investigation with Historic England and Former SAHGB Chair)
  • Henry Russell OBE (Programme Leader, MSC Conservation of the Historic Environment, University of Reading)
  • Matthew Saunders MBE (IHBC representative), Former Secretary of the Ancient Monuments Society; Director of the Friends of Friendless Churches
  • Sally Stradling (Heritage Consultant, Trustee of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings)

Criteria and Eligibility

Independent researchers, practices, heritage consultancies, amenity societies, relevant departments of religious bodies, and non-departmental public bodies are all invited to submit or nominate work that demonstrates significant and original work and that develops our understanding of the built environment.

We are looking for two broad categories of research:

CATEGORY 1: Research carried out for specific projects, e.g.:

  • Heritage statements
  • Statements of significance
  • Listing proposals
  • Heritage/conservation management plans

CATEGORY 2: Thematic and/or reflective work, e.g.:

  • Thematic/typological/topographical studies
  • Critical/reflective/propositional essays on conservation/heritage theory and practice

For Category 1 (research carried out for specific projects), submissions should be no longer than 10,000 words and should include images where appropriate with suitable captions. Submissions can be substantially redrafted and should include, as appropriate:

  • Purpose and nature of proposal/project
  • Approach and methodology
  • Statement of significance (architectural and historic)
  • Methodological reflection on research process (if not included in the substantive submission)

Category 1 submissions should include a supporting statement (of c.1000 words) summarising, as appropriate:

  • Planning history
  • Designation records
  • Assessments of harmful impact
  • Client details and local authority
  • Names of researchers and project collaborators
  • Case file number (if applicable)
  • Summary of outcome (if applicable)

For Category 2 (critical/reflective/propositional work) submissions should be no longer than 10,000 words. For thematic/typological and topographical studies, candidates may be asked to submit a supplementary abstract once the full submission has been received.

Essays should be properly referenced (according to the editorial guidelines for submission to Architectural History) with a proper critical apparatus).

… we are not assessing or endorsing particular projects or sites…

NB: Our Award celebrates research and critical reflection; we are not assessing or endorsing particular projects or sites, or arbitrating on success or demerits of resulting planning decisions or architectural interventions.

The Award is open to UK-based researchers and practitioners and/or work on UK sites/subjects. We are seeking original research: work should not have been produced as coursework for degrees or professional accreditation, been published as a book, or substantially published elsewhere. It should be research undertaken and/or written up within the last 2 years (i.e from 1 January 2021).


Work will be assessed by the following broad evaluation criteria:

  • Significance – including relevance and contribution to knowledge/understanding
  • Quality – research should be original and of high quality
  • Communication – clarity and efficacy of communication
  • Value – long term contribution to the understanding of architectural history
  • Usability – the work should relate directly and enhance the planning application

Entrants should submit the work and any supporting documents (if requested), using our online form before 1 September 2023.

See full details HERE

See the launch NewsBlog

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