The impact of intangible heritage on architectural and building conservation practices: a socio-material outlook

The changing nature of heritage over recent decades has stimulated a focus on intangible heritage – the understanding of which specifically from within the UK built heritage paradigm remains inconclusive. This is of particular relevance to architectural conservationists who are coming under increasing pressure to not only consider intangible heritage within assessments, but to also understand how it correlates with alterations to the physical fabric of listed buildings. It also has an impact on the type of buildings that are bestowed with listed status, with ‘ordinary’ typologies and structures now increasingly having their listed representatives. Situated within a postmodern conceptualisation of heritage as increasingly dynamic, social and intangible, my PhD research confronts the problematization and inherent paradox of safeguarding immaterial manifestations of culture within a disciplinary context that is traditionally structured to prioritise matters relating to scientific repair, materials, and aesthetics.

The overarching study is underpinned by a ‘Practice Theory’ ontology and driven by a multi-methodological qualitative approach – both of which work towards the conception of built heritage practice as a storytelling activity, and listed buildings as socio-material hybrids. The broader research project is working towards the development of a series of socio-material methodological strategies that can be implemented by practitioners when altering built heritage assets.

Activites / Conferences

Djabarouti, J. (2021). ‘The impact of intangible heritage on architectural and building conservation practices in the UK: a socio-material outlook’, Researching Heritage Symposium, Manchester Metropolitan University, 21/04/2021

Djabarouti, J. “Dynamic interpretations of preservation: the case (encasement) of the Hill House”, Cultures of Authenticity 2020, Loughborough University, 05/11/2020

Djabarouti, J. “Between feelings and things: intangible heritage from within the built heritage paradigm”, Association of Critical heritage Studies 5th Biennial Conference: ACHS FUTURES 2020, 26/08/2020

Djabarouti, J. ‘The lively development of tradition’: Edgar Wood, restoration and intangible heritage’, HERITAGE 2020: the 7th International Conference on Heritage and Sustainable Development, 8/07/2020

Djabarouti, J. “Understanding the Intangible Heritage of Buildings”, AHRC NWCDTP Annual Conference 2019: Meeting of Minds: Collaborative Research in the Arts and Humanities, 28/10/2019.

Publications / Outputs

Djabarouti, J. (2021). Imitation and intangibility: postmodern perspectives on restoration and authenticity at the Hill House Box, Scotland. International Journal of Heritage Studies.

Djabarouti, J. (2020). Listed buildings as socio-material hybrids: assessing tangible and intangible heritage using social network analysis. Journal of Heritage Management.

Djabarouti, J. (2020). Stories of feelings and things: intangible heritage from within the built heritage paradigm in the UK. International Journal of Heritage Studies.

Djabarouti, J., and O’Flaherty, C. (2020). Architect and craftsperson: project perceptions, relationships and craft. Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research.

Djabarouti, J., & O’Flaherty, C. (2019). Experiential learning with building craft in the architectural design studio: A pilot study exploring its implications for built heritage in the UK. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 32, 102–113.


Johnathan Djabarouti is an AHRC (NWCDTP) funded PhD candidate at the MSA, researching the role of intangible heritage in relation to the conservation and adaptation of historic buildings. Johnathan holds graduate and postgraduate degrees in architecture (BA(Hons), BArch); a postgraduate degree in urbanism (MA); as well as a postgraduate degree in building conservation and adaptation (MSc). He is also an experienced architect (RIBA) and accredited conservation professional (IHBC), with architectural experience involving the day-to-day running of both new build and conservation projects. Alongside undertaking a PhD here at the MSA, he is also an Associate Lecturer and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), and enjoys teaching architecture students across all years.


Eamonn Canniffe
Eamonn Canniffe Principal Lecturer View profile
Sally Stone
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