Dr Alan Forster

Profile

Lecturer

School of the Built Environment

Phone: +44 (0)131 451 4661
Address:
  • Room G.25
    Edwin Chadwick Building
  • School of the Built Environment
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Edinburgh
  • EH14 4AS
  • United Kingdom
Alan Forster

Research profile

Roles and responsibilities

Teaching & Administration

Dr Alan M Forster is a research active lecturer (Assistant Professor) in construction technology and building conservation and is the Programme director for the PGDip / MSc in Building Conservation (Technology & Management) at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. He has over 9 years experience of academic practice and 10 years industrial experience in the construction sector, latterly specialising in building conservation.

Professionally, Alan is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Builders (FCIOB), an elected member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) (Scotland) Building Surveying Professional Group & a former committee member for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in Scotland. Additionally, he is the co-editor for the RICS Building Surveying / Building Conservation Journal.

A strong technological focus has been an important and constant feature of Alan’s work, and this is reflected in the nature of his teaching. Alan is currently responsible for delivering high quality teaching and learning for the following courses: ·        

  • Construction Technology 1 (D37TA)
  • Design Project 1 (D30YD)
  • Design Project 2 (D30YE)
  • Building & Contextual Investigation (D31BX)
  • Building Conservation Philosophy & Practice (D31CN)

Previous courses taught by Alan include; Construction Studies & Design 1 & 2 (2005-2007); Construction Technology 2 (2007– 2011); 1st year Integrative Design Project (2005-2010); & Building Surveying Design Portfolio (2007– 2011).

Alan is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and prides himself on high quality teaching, in building conservation, construction technology, multi-disciplinary design projects and surveying oriented subjects. He was awarded the 2010 Graduates Teaching Prize for lecturer of the year, the 2010 ‘Spirit of Heriot-Watt University’ award for Pursuing Excellence and shortlisted for the 2011 Teaching and Learning Oscars, ‘Switched on’ - most engaging lecturer award.

Alan’s academic administrative functions include; first year undergraduate student co-ordinator, and the MSc programme leader for the MSc/PgDip in Building Conservation (Technology & Management),he was formerly the CPM&QS undergraduate admissions tutor for 3 years.

Research
  • Low energy materials
  • Impact of climate change on traditional buildings
  • Construction technology & design
  • Sustainable construction and green materials
  • Building conservation philosophy & repair of traditional structures
  • Building maintenance
  • Building pathology and inspection.

Research Projects

Principle Investigator (PI) for the £135k (FEC) Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) collaborative project with Historic Scotland & Heriot-Watt University, entitled, ”Technical and environmental performance framework for regionally sourced lime mortars: A comparative analysis method” (2013-2015). The research aims to develop a specification framework for use of regional lime mortars in conservation through determination of performance characteristics and bench-marking the potential for carbon/energy reduction.

Principle Investigator (PI) for the £150,000.00 Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) project entitled: ‘An assessment of binder leaching in traditional mortars for mass masonry’

This project has a duration of 3 years starting from October 2009 -2012. For more details visit, http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/ViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/G064865/1

Collaborative ‘Kick Start’ Funding: Creativity and innovation: The use of earth as a contemporary construction material in Scotland University of Edinburgh, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture & Heriot-Watt University, School of the Built Environment (Nov 2011): Collaborative research funding enabling a student led exploration of earth finish focusing on texture and colour [£2000].

LIMES.NET: Network for Low Impact Materials and innovative Engineering Solutions for the built environment (Sept 2011): Part of the successful collaborative EPSRC bid led by the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, University of Bath

Action Programme on Responsible Sourcing (APRES): Network for responsible sourcing in construction (Nov 2011): Part of the successful collaborative EPSRC bid led by Loughborough University, department of Civil and Building Engineering

Selected publications

Peer reviewed Journal & conference papers

  1. Carter, K, Forster A.M, Szadurski, E, Banfill, P.F.G. Carbon dioxide sequestration in lime mortars: Shades of green. (Submission June 2013)
  2. Torney, C, Szadurski, E, Forster, A.M, (2013) The effect of site modification on the physical properties of formulated (Submission April 2013)
  3. Forster, AM, Szadurski, E & Banfill, PFG. Chemically accelerated deterioration of natural hydraulic lime mortars: Effects on physical and mechanical properties (Submission Feb 2013)
  4. Forster A.M, Razali, N, Banfil, PFG, Szadurski, E, & Torney, C The influence of calcium carbonate filler modification on natural hydraulic lime for high humidity and temperature climatic conditions Historic Mortars: Characteristics and tests, Glasgow, 2013 (Abstract submitted)
  5. Torney, C., Szadurski, E., Forster A.M, The Use of Restoration Mortars in Conservation Work: Perceptions, Practice and Properties ICON Conference ‘Positive Futures in an Uncertain World’ Glasgow, April 2013, (Abstract accepted)
  6. Torney, C, Szadurski, E, Forster, A.M, (2013) Specialist ‘restoration mortars’: A comparison of the physical properties of two stone repair materials (in communication)
  7. Torney, C, & Forster, AM, (2012) Plastic Repair of Stone in Scotland: Perceptions and Practise Structural Survey 30(4) 297-311
  8. Vettese-Forster, S, & Forster A.M. (2012) Evaluating the historic graffiti adopting definitions of art. Journal of European Popular Culture 2(2) 113-128
  9. Forster A.M, Vettese-Forster, S, Borland, J. Evaluating the cultural significance of historic graffiti Structural Survey 30(1), 43-64
  10. Forster A.M, & Carter, K, (2011) A framework for specifying lime mortars for rubble masonry construction. Structural Survey 29(5), 373-396
  11. Forster A.M, Carter, K, Banfill, P.F.G, Kayan B, (2011) Green Maintenance for historic masonry buildings: an emerging concept. Building Research and Information 39(6), 656-664 DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2011.621345 Highly Commended Paper Award Winner 2012
  12. Forster A.M, Douglas, (2010) J.E, Condition survey objectivity & philosophy driven masonry repair: An increased probability for project divergence? Structural Survey 28(5), 384-407. Outstanding Paper Award Winner 2011
  13. Forster A.M, (2010) Building conservation philosophy for masonry repair: Part 2 ‘Principles’ Structural Survey 28(3), 165-188. Highly Commended Paper Award Winner 2011
  14. Forster A.M, (2010) Building conservation philosophy for masonry repair: Part 1 ‘Ethics’ Structural Survey 28(2), 91-107
  15. Forster A.M, Kayan B, (2009) Maintenance for historic buildings: a current perspective. Structural Survey 27(3), , 210- 229
  16. Forster A.M, Medero, G.M, Morton, T, Buckman, J, (2008) Traditional cob wall: response to flooding. Structural Survey 26(4), 302-321 Senior author. Outstanding Paper Award Winner 2009.
  17. Forster A.M., (2007) Binder loss in traditional mass masonry: a cause for concern? Structural Survey 25(2), ,148-170
  18. Forster A.M, (2004) Hot lime mortars: a current perspective. Journal of Architectural Conservation, 3(10), ,7-27
  19. Forster A.M, The Scottish experience of lime mortars, renders and harling. International Journal for Restoration. 10(6), 2004,637-647
  20. Henriques, F.M.A., Charola, A.E., Groot, C., Forster A.M., Auras, M, (2004) Formulating mortars and renders for historic buildings: A discussion paper, International Journal for Restoration. 10(6), 583-591
  21. Forster A.M., Masonry repair options and their philosophical ramifications. Proceedings of the International RILEM workshop (PRO), Historic Mortars: Characteristics and tests, 2010, Prague Pp. 973-982
  22. Medero, G.M, Forster A.M, G.M, Morton, Kennedy, &  J T, Buckman, J. Cob Construction in Scotland: Case study Old School House at Cottown, Perthshire. Proceedings of the first International Mediterranean Conference on Earth Architecture, Cagliari, Italy, 13-16th March 2009
  23. Hughes J.J., Banfill P.F.G., Forster A.M., Livesey P., Nisbet S., Sagar J., Swift D.S., Taylor A., Small-scale traditional lime binder and traditional mortar production for conservation of historic masonry buildings. Proceedings of International Building Lime Symposium, Orlando, Florida, 2005, 1-13.
  24. Hughes J.J., Banfill P.F.G., Forster A.M., Livesey P., Nisbet S., Sagar J., Swift D.S., Practical application of small-scale burning for traditional lime binder production: skills development for conservation of the built heritage. Proceedings of the 13th International Brick and Block Masonry Conference, Amsterdam, July 4-7, 2004
  25. Banfill P.F.G, Forster A.M, A relationship between hydraulicity and permeability of hydraulic lime, Proceedings of the International RILEM workshop (PRO 12), Historic Mortars: Characteristics and tests, 1999, Pp 173-183 Senior author

Books

  1. Forster A.M, (2012) Hot lime mortars: a current perspective, in I Brocklebank (ed) ‘Limes in conservation’ Donhead, Dorset. ISBN: 978-1-873394-95-3  
  2. Forster A.M, (2012) Masonry repair options and their philosophical ramifications, in J Valek, J.J Hughes & C.J.W.P Groot (ed) ‘Historic Mortars: Characteristics, Assessment & Repair’ Springer, London. ISBN: 978-94-007-4634-3  
  3. Forster A.M, ‘How hydraulic binders work – hydraulicity for beginners and the hydraulic lime family’ Love Your Building Publishing, 2004.  ISBN: 1-905364-00-8

Additional published works

  1. Forster A.M, 2002. An assessment of the relationship between the water vapour permeability and hydraulicity of lime based mortars with particular reference to building conservation material science. Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). Heriot-Watt University
  2. Forster A.M, ‘Promoting a healthy building – the use of lime-based materials and the characteristics of lime mortars’ RICS Building Conservation Journal, Number 39, 2005 Pp10-11
  3. Forster A.M, Book review of Ashurst J. ‘Mortars, Plasters and Renders in Conservation’ 2nd Edition. For Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, SPAB News. Vol. 24, No.2, 2003, P61
Biography

Dr Alan M Forster is a lecturer and programme leader for MSc in Building Conservation (Technology & Management) with 10 years industrial experience in Building Surveying, general construction and building conservation practice.

Alan teaches building conservation, construction technology, multi-disciplinary design projects and surveying oriented subjects. He was awarded the 2010 Graduates Teaching Prize for lecturer of the year, the 2010 ‘Spirit of Heriot-Watt University’ award for Pursing Excellence and shortlisted for the 2011 Teaching and Learning Oscars, ‘Switched on’ - most engaging lecturer award.

In 2011 he was awarded the Sir Edmund Happold Senior Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of Bath, working with the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering (ACE) – Innovative materials group. His research and consultancy activities are undertaken within the Institute for Building & Urban Design (sustainability, building resilience & climate change group); investigating low carbon building materials, environmentally sustainable and traditional construction; building pathology and deteriorology; the impact of climate change on existing buildings and building resilience; ‘green’ maintenance and building conservation philosophy. He has attained grant funding (PI) and awards totalling £300,000 and has published 25 academic peer reviewed journal and conference papers. He was awarded the ‘outstanding journal paper award’ for 2009 and 2011 from Emerald Literati Network for the Journal of Structural Survey.

His administrative duties include; programme leader for MSc in Building Conservation (Technology & Management), first year undergraduate student co-ordinator and former (2009-2012) Construction Management & Surveying Programmes undergraduate admissions officer. He was recently appointed as external programme examiner for the MSc Conservation of Buildings, Faculty of Science & Technology, Anglia Ruskin University (2012-2015).

Practical experience of surveying, recording and evaluation of historic buildings was attained whilst working for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) within the survey and recording section. Site supervision of conservation projects was undertaken whilst working for the Scottish Lime Centre and also Laing Traditional Masonry, with particular specialism in masonry fabric repair and internal and external lime works. Additional site experience relates to six years of installation and maintenance of plumbing and mechanical services.

Additional awards include the attainment of the prestigious travelling Lethaby Scholarship (2001) awarded by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) gave invaluable and unique, practical experience. This ultimately stimulated a long term interest in conservation practice, leading the production of several award winning academic journal papers investigating building conservation philosophy. Alan is a former committee member for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in Scotland.

Alan is a peer reviewer for the Journal of Architectural Conservation, Building Research & Information, and Engineering, Construction & Architectural Management (ECAM), and has written articles for the RICS and SPAB on the subject of specification of lime based materials. He is supervisor to three PhD students in the following areas; Green binders, Green building maintenance, Deterioration and repair of historic earth structures and, binder leaching in traditional mortars for mass masonry.

Academic Biography:

1986 - 1990 - City & Guilds Advanced Craft Certificate in Plumbing and Mechanical Services (winner of the JT Wilkinson Merit Shield and the JA Atkinson cup)

1991 - 1993 - Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Construction Studies (with Distinction)

1993 - 1997 - BSc (Hon) in Building Surveying (awarded first class) (Heriot-Watt University)

1997-2002 - PhD / Doctor of Philosophy (Heriot-Watt University). Thesis entitled ‘An assessment of the relationship between the water vapour permeability and hydraulicity of lime based mortars with particular reference to building conservation materials science’

2001 - Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (S.P.A.B) Lethaby Scholar (winner of 1 of 4 funded scholarship places)

2003 - Scottish Qualifications Authority – Qualified Trainer and Assessor for the Scottish Vocational Qualifications in Conservation Masonry (D3VJ 11), Preparing and Using Basic Lime Mixes (D3VG 11), Preparing Hydraulic Mortars and Building and Repointing Traditional Rubble Masonry with Various Lime Mortars (D3VH 11)

2005- 2007 - Post Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) – Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Please note that additional information such as videos, podcasts, news items etc. can also be included on request.

Further information

Awards    

  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Builders (FCIOB)
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh: Bilateral exchange programme (Visiting Research Fellowship) awarded in collaboration with the Academy of Sciences for the Czech Republic, 2014. His work was undertaken within the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, and more specifically, the ARCCHIP Centre of Excellence (Advanced Research Centre for Cultural Heritage Interdisciplinary Projects). The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic is the leading non-university public research institution in the Czech Republic. It conducts both fundamental and strategic applied research.
  • Sir Edmund Happold Senior Visiting Research Fellowship University of Bath (Summer 2011). Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering: Innovative Construction Materials research group.  Fellowship enabled the establishment of collaborative research at a fundamental level
  • Winner of the 2010 ‘Spirit of Heriot-Watt University award: Pursuing Excellence category’ that is typified by  ‘always doing my best, exceeding customers expectations, being ambitious in my goals, and using my strengths’ http://www.hw.ac.uk/equality/Values/Values%20Index.htm
  • Winner of the graduating students’ prize for lecturer of the year (2010) by the Heriot-Watt Students Association.
  • Short listed for the graduating students’ prize for lecturer of the year (2009) by the Heriot Watt Students Association
  • Shortlisted for the Heriot-Watt University (2011) Student Union - Learning & Teaching Oscars for the ‘Switched on award’ that is typified by being ‘Exciting, enthusiastic & dynamic, makes the difficult, easy, relates material well, provides practical examples, feel for students, tailors material, adaptability’
  • Awarded the ‘Structural survey’, ‘outstanding journal paper award’ (2011) by Emerald Literati Network ’, for the paper entitled ‘Condition survey objectivity & philosophy driven masonry repair: An increased probability for project divergence?’ (main author)
  • Awarded the ‘Structural survey’, ‘outstanding journal paper award’ (2009) by Emerald Literati Network ’, for the paper entitled ‘Traditional cob wall: response to flooding’ (main author) http://info.emeraldinsight.com/authors/literati/awards.htm?year=2009
  • Awarded the ‘Structural survey’, ‘Highly commended journal paper award’ (2011) by Emerald Literati Network ’, for the paper entitled ‘Building conservation philosophy for masonry repair: Part 2 ‘Principles’ (main author)