Donald Insall Associates celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2018. Since it was founded in 1958, the practice has led the way in the conservation of historic buildings and in responding to the changing ways in which society has perceived and valued its heritage. In many ways, these years highlight the coming-of-age of conservation architecture and something Donald Insall Associates helped to shaped and grow.
A vital example of how the growth and development of the practice has gone hand-in-hand with new policies and approaches to conservation and architecture has been “The Chester Report”. Published in 1968, it was a national pilot case study for the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. Many of its tenets have become part of today’s more formalised Conservation Management Plans and Historic Building Appraisals. In 1971, Donald Insall Associates’ subsequent role as Conservation Consultant for the City of Chester led to the creation of a new post for a dedicated Conservation Officer — a ‘first’ for the United Kingdom and the forerunner of a new profession. In 1983, the team was strongly involved in the creation of English Heritage, for which Donald Insall served as a founder-Commissioner. Internationally, the practice has also been closely associated with the work of the Getty Foundation and of the Council of Europe and the European Commission.
In his book “Living Buildings” (published 2008 and reprinted in 2018), Donald Insall writes about the philosophy, principles and practice of architectural conservation reflecting on the historical sensibility underpinning the team. His notion of wanting “every place to be truly more itself” remains a core belief in the ethos of Donald Insall Associates.