We learn through experience. Our campus is a National Historic Site but it is also a living laboratory.
Willowbank is the perfect learning environment for our students to not only gain an understanding of traditional building methods through the study of the materials and finishes but to physically take part in the conservation of a real heritage site.
Willowbank is undergoing a gradual transformation as the students and the supervising faculty associates conserve the existing site and adapt it for ongoing use. The intent is to explore how both the tangible and intangible qualities of the site can be protected and enhanced.
The estate has been a site of human habitation for at least 9,000 years. The question then is what should be done to keep alive not only the built heritage of this site but also the intangible qualities that convey our cultural stories? It is both the artifacts and the rituals that together tell the story of Willowbank.
"The question then is what should be done to keep alive not only the built heritage of this site but also the intangible qualities that convey our cultural stories?"
An initial conservation plan for the site has been developed by the Diploma Program students, under the direction of staff. This plan will continue to be refined by successive generations of students, as they confront specific challenges and learn from previous experiences.
Each project we undertake, undergoes the full heritage planning and design process. We strive to include the students in that process in order to immerse them in heritage conservation.
Our past projects include examples of different design approaches to existing buildings, including adaptive reuse and restoration.