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Architectural Evidence: Studying the Fabric of the Historic Building

• HVAC Brief, energy


• Examples of each system

Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Other Systems

Systems of utility and convenience bear close scrutiny during investigation. All historic buildings inhabited and used by people reveal some association, at the very minimum, with the necessities of lighting, climate control, water, food preparation, and waste removal.

Later installations in a building may include communication, hygiene, food storage, security, and lightning protection systems.

Other systems, such as transportation, are related to more specific functions of commercial or public structures.

Although research into the social uses of rooms and their furnishings has borne many new studies, parallel research into how people actually carried out the most mundane tasks of everyday life has been fairly neglected. Utility and convenience systems are most prone to alteration and upgrading and, at the same time, less apt to be preserved, documented or re-used.

Understanding the history or use of a building, and the history of systems technology can help predict the physical evidence that might be found, and what it will look like after it is found.