Dr Alan Forster

Profile

Associate Professor

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

I have been delivering high quality teaching and learning in building conservation, construction technology, multi-disciplinary design projects and surveying oriented subjects. I 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 & 2015 Teaching and Learning Oscars, ‘Switched on’ - most engaging lecturer award. In addition to my MSc programme leader role my administrative duties include; first year undergraduate student co-ordinator, Health & Safety officer for the materials laboratory, and former Construction Management & Surveying Programmes undergraduate admissions officer (2009-2012). I was appointed as the external programme examiner for the MSc in Built Environment Courses & MSc Conservation of Buildings, Faculty of Science & Technology, Anglia Ruskin University in 2012.

A strong technological focus has been an important and constant feature of my work, and this is reflected in the nature of my teaching. I am 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 me 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).

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and pride myself on high quality teaching, in building conservation, construction technology, multi-disciplinary design projects and surveying oriented subjects. I 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 & 2015 Teaching and Learning Oscars, ‘Switched on’ - most engaging lecturer award.

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

Research
  • Low carbon 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.
  • Historic Graffiti

 

Research Projects

Cumulative research grant funding totalling £446,500 from major funding councils including, EPSRC, TSB, British Council & RSE. Annual grant research income since 2009 approximately £89,000.00.

1. Researcher Links Programme "Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure for Economic Development" Research network & workshops, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand

Funder: British Council
Duration: January 2015 (1 week)
Award Value: £48,000.00
Position: CI (50%)
Context: Invited work shop facilitator & chair

 

2. Investigating Stereo-Vision based Videogrammetry for Cultural Heritage Building Fabric Condition Survey

Funder: Historic Scotland
Duration: 6 Months, starting February 2015
Award Value: £22,000.00
Position: CI (30%)
Context: Pilot study of drone based building fabric assessment

 

3. Low carbon materials in the historic built environment

Funder: Historic Scotland - PhD scholarship grant
Duration: 3 Years, starting January 2015
Award Value: £22,500.00 + £21,000 (3yr fee waiver)
Position: PI (100%)
Context: Funded PhD student

 

4. Reverse engineering historic limes: Provenance, production and performance – ‘Closing the knowledge gap

Funder: Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE)
Duration: 1 month, March 2014
Award Value: £10,000.00
Position: PI (100%)
Context: Bilateral exchange programme (Visiting Research Fellowship) awarded in collaboration with the Academy of Sciences for the Czech Republic. This work was undertaken within the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Centre of Excellence for 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. This grant enabled the development of meaningful collaborative research in the area of low carbon materials in the Built Environment.

 

5. Lime-Quest Project: ”Technical and environmental performance framework for regionally sourced lime mortars: A comparative analysis method”

Funder: Technology Strategy Board (TSB) – Knowledge Transfer
Duration: 18 months, 2013-14
Award Value: £135,000.00
Position: PI (100%)
Context: Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) collaborative project with Historic Scotland & Heriot-Watt University. The research developed 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.

 

6. Performance of sustainable / low energy alternative binders exposed to rapid dehydration – hydration conditions

Funder: SBE Early Career Researcher Doctoral studentship grant
Duration: 3 years, 2011-14
Award Value: £21,000.00 (3yr International Fee Wavier)
Position: PI (100%)
Context: The Funded by the HWU, Royal Academy of Engineering’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design.

 

7. Sir Edmund Happold Senior Visiting Research Fellowship, University of Bath

Funder: Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACE): Innovative Construction Materials Research Group -Competitively Awarded Grant – Co sponsored by ACE and the Happold Trust
Duration: 3 Months, July – Sept 2011
Award Value: £2,000.00
Position PI: (100%)
Context: The purpose of the Research Fellowship was to enable the development of collaborative research on a fundamental level leading to a long term relationship between institutions. The fellowship invited established academics working in a field relevant to any of the Department's research interests.

 

8. The use of earth as a contemporary construction material in Scotland

Funder: Collaborative ‘Kick Start’ Funding: Creativity and innovation: University of Edinburgh, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture & Heriot-Watt University, School of the Built Environment
Duration: 3 Months, Nov 2011
Award Value: £2,000.00
Position PI: (50%)
Context: Collaborative research funding enabling a student led exploration of earth finish, texture and colour.

 

9. Conduction calorimetry consultancy - on alternative binders

Funder: University College London (UCL)
Duration: 3 Months, Sept 2011
Award Value: £3,000.00
Position PI: (100%)
Context: Calorimetry testing upon innovative cement blends.

 

10. An assessment of binder leaching in traditional mortars for mass masonry

Funder: Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) EP/ G064865/1.
Duration: 3 years, 2009-12
Award Value: £150,000.00
Position PI: (100%)
Context: The research investigated the impact of climate change on traditionally built masonry structures and more specifically, established the rate of soluble binder leaching in various lime mortar types commonly used in their construction. The work investigated the effect on the mechanical properties of the mortar and changes to the macro and micro pore structure, evaluating its influence on moisture transfer mechanisms.

 

11. National Progression Awards Consultancy

Funder: Historic Scotland
Duration: 2 Months, Sept 2009
Award Value: £5,000.00
Position PI: (100%)
Context: Wrote the national training package for the newly proposed National Progression Awards (SVQ) in conservation masonry, focusing on the impact of environment and building detailing on the specification of materials (on behalf of Historic Scotland).

 

12. Cob Wall response to flooding

Funder: Funded by the Centre for the Built Environment [CEBE]
Duration: 6 Months, Nov 2008
Award Value: £5,000.00
Position CI: (50%)
Context: A preliminary laboratory based assessment of the performance of ‘Cob’ to increased incidence of flooding associated with climate change.

 

 

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. Bosche, F.N, Forster, A.M & Valero, E (2015) Evaluation of historic masonry: towards greater objectivity & Efficiency - Heritage BIM
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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

I am a university Associate Professor and programme leader for MSc in Building Conservation (Technology & Management) with 10 years industrial experience in Building Surveying, general construction and building conservation practice. My research and consultancy activities are undertaken within the Royal Academy of Engineering Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design; investigating traditional and low carbon building materials and construction technologies; building pathology and deterioration; building resilience to climate change; ‘green’ maintenance and building conservation philosophy. My research was returned in both RAE (2008) and REF (2014) latterly in a joint submission with the University of Edinburgh for unit of assessment ‘Architecture, Built Environment & Planning’. I was awarded the Sir Edmund Happold Senior Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of Bath in 2011, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh Bilateral exchange programme visiting Research Fellowship in 2014, awarded in collaboration with the Academy of Sciences for the Czech Republic. I have attained cumulative research grant funding totalling £446,000.00 from major funding councils including, EPSRC, TSB, RSE, & British Council. Dissemination of these projects and my broader research portfolio has led to the publication of 34 academic peer reviewed journal and conference papers, four of which were recipient of outstanding and highly commended journal paper awards.

Professionally, I am Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Builders (FCIOB); a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (FCABE); and an elected member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) building Surveying Professional group (Scotland). I am a member of the Editorial Advisory Group for the RICS Conservation Journal and a member of the Editorial advisory board for Structural Survey: Journal of Building Pathology & Refurbishment.

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. I am a former committee member for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in Scotland.

I am a peer reviewer for the Journal of Architectural Conservation, Building Research & Information, and Engineering, Construction & Architectural Management (ECAM), and have written articles for the RICS and SPAB on the subject of specification of lime based materials. I am 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)

 

Further information

Awards

  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Builders (FCIOB)[Chartered Builder]
  • Fellow of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (FCABE) [Chartered Building Engineer]
  • 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’
  • Short listed for the Heriot-Watt University (2015) 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)

Journal Editorial roles

Editorial Advisory Group member for the RICS Building Surveying/ Conservation Journal (2014- Present): The RICS building conservation journal is the main professional publication for Building Surveyors. It is utilised as an integral component of CPD structured reading for the profession and forms an important role in the examination process of the Assessment of Professional Competency.  Its content is topical and reflects the technical education requirements of the profession. The reader base is significant with 15,000 thousand Chartered Building Surveyors receiving this publication (both electronically and hardcopy) 6 times a year. I have published extensively in the journal on a range of topical issues and this enables effective dissemination of my high end research papers. This forms an integral component of my dissemination strategy.

 

Editorial advisory board member for Structural Survey: Journal of Building Pathology & Refurbishment (2015- Present): Structural survey is arguably one of the most important journals relating to the Building surveying profession. Its content is topical and it is related specifically to the core competencies required by chartered building surveyors and architects. Structural Survey publishes findings on contemporary and original research in building pathology and building forensics, refurbishment and adaptation. This includes all related areas towards supporting more sustainable and resilient futures. Particular emphasis is placed on the emerging environmental challenges associated with sustaining the modern built environment.

Specialist advisory research input & networks:

(i) LIMES.NET: Network for Low Impact Materials and innovative Engineering Solutions for the built environment (Sept 2011): BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, University of Bath

(ii) Engineering Historic Futures (EHF) impact of climate change on historic buildings (2003): Specialist advisor to Historic Scotland (stakeholder partner) and the Scottish Lime Centre trust for their input into the engineering historic futures project, specifically evaluating laboratory wall  simulations of historic buildings, correlated to site based monitoring (National Trust properties: Brodick Castle and Blickling Hall). Engineering Historic Futures was a three-year project, run by University College London (UCL) (2003-2006), and funded by EPSRC as part of their climate-change research initiative "Building Knowledge for a Changing Climate", investigating issues arising from water damage to historic buildings.

(iii) Experimental Lime Kiln (ELK) (2003): Research into production of traditional complex mortars. Worked as part of the research team analysing small scale lime burning.

(iv) Foresight Lime Research Project (2002): Specialist advisor to Historic Scotland and the Scottish Lime Centre for the then proposed ‘best practice guide for hydraulic lime mortar for stone, brick and block’. Project funding by EPSRC / DTI with PI responsibility at Bristol University. Advisory role included the peer review of the aforementioned publication.