Sydney Talk: Heritage, Construction and Fire / June 18


Tuesday 18TH June 2019

Catherine Forbes: Heritage, Construction and Fire

Globally, over the years many iconic heritage sites have experienced severe damage or loss as a result of fire. Cases have included Windsor Castle (1992), Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), Lucerne (1993), Sungyemun (South gate) Seoul, South Korea (2008), the Cutty Sark (2014), the Glasgow School of Art (2015 and 2018), the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro (2018) and many more. Most recently Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was in the limelight as we watched images of its roof burning and spire collapsing (May, 2019). During the same period, significant sites and collections in Australia have also been impacted by fire, including Essendon Historical Society Museum, Melbourne (2016), the historic Byron Arcade, Inverell (2010), numerous historic Australian pubs, including the General Gordon Hotel in Sydneham (2018), the Lyceum Hotel, Longreach (2018) and the Broadway Hotel in Woolloongabba, Brisbane (2018), a number of places of worship, including Melbourne’s oldest Greek Orthodox Church (2016), the Geelong Mosque (2016), and St Paul’s Catholic Church, Glenreagh, in the Clarence Valley (2018), and a number of schools, including the 1923 Parramatta Public School building in Sydney (2018).

Although some of these fires were the result of arson and others accidental, it must be noted that many of the buildings affected were undergoing some form of construction work. Catherine Forbes will discuss recent research findings on common causes of fire on heritage construction sites and what is involved in preventing, preparing for and mitigating fire risk prior to and during construction. With specific reference to the Parramatta Public School fire, she will also highlight the issues arising during the emergency response to fire in heritage buildings and the new risks that emerge and must be dealt with in the aftermath of fire.

Catherine Forbes

Catherine is an expert member of ICORP (ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness) and Convenor of the Australia ICOMOS and ICOMOS New Zealand joint working group on Cultural Heritage Risk Preparedness. Catherine is also the heritage architect assisting Schools Infrastructure NSW on recovery of the Parramatta Public School.

Time & Date: Tuesday 18th June 2019, 5.30pm for 6pm start

Cost: Students $10, Members $15, non-members $20 payable in cash at GML

Venue: GML Heritage, Level 6, Australia Council Building, 372 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills, 2010 (corner of Cooper Street – south from Central Station North Concourse exit to Elizabeth Street). Please report to the reception desk on the Australia Council Ground Floor on arrival to be ticked off on the list and to obtain a Visitors Pass

RSVP: by Friday 14th June 2019 via email to

Bookings are essential as places are limited.

Australia ICOMOS, DOCOMOMO Australia, NSW Chapter AIA members are all invited to attend