14th International Conference on Studies, Repairs and Maintenance of Heritage Architecture


13 - 15 July 2015
A Coruna, Spain



The 14th International Conference on Studies, Repairs and Maintenance of Heritage Architecture (STREMAH/15) took place in A Coruña, Spain, organised by the Wessex Institute, represented by Prof Carlos A Brebbia, and the University of A Coruña, represented by Prof Santiago Hernandez. The meeting was sponsored by the International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning.

The conference has taken place on a regular basis since the first meeting was held in Florence (1989); followed by others in Seville (1991); Bath (1993); Crete (1995); San Sebastian (1997); Dresden (1999); Bologna (2001); Halkidiki (2003); Malta (2005); Prague (2007); Tallinn (2009); Tuscany (2011); and the New Forest, UK (2013), home of the Wessex Institute.

The importance of retaining the world’s cultural heritage cannot be overstated. Rapid development and inappropriate conservation techniques are threatening many unique buildings and sites. STREMAH contributors provide the necessary scientific knowledge to facilitate regulatory policies. They also add topics related to historical aspects and the reuse of heritage sites. Technical issues on the structural integrity of different types of buildings, such as those constructed with materials as varied as iron and steel, concrete, masonry, wood or earth were discussed. Restoration processes require the appropriate characterisation of those materials, the modes of construction and the structural behaviour of the building.

STREMAH also considers modern computer simulation studies which provide accurate results demonstrating the stress state of the building and possible failure mechanisms affecting its stability. Of particular importance are studies related to their dynamic and earthquake behaviour aiming to provide an assessment of the seismic vulnerability of heritage buildings.

The conference brought together contributions from scientists, architects, engineers, and restoration experts, social scientists, planners and environmentalists dealing with different aspects of heritage buildings.

Opening of the Conference

The meeting was opened by Prof Carlos A Brebbia who described the work of Wessex Institute and in particular its conference programme, which consists of 20 to 25 international meetings a year held throughout the world. The objective is to disseminate knowledge with the cooperation of diverse academic and research institutions in many different countries. The programme that has been running since the founding of the Institute is highly popular.

Since 1993 – Carlos explained – papers presented at the conferences have been archived in the Institute’s digital library at where they are permanently available to the international community.

Furthermore – Carlos said – presenters at the WIT conferences are invited to submit an enhanced version of their work to one of the International Journals launched by the Institute. There are currently five of them, including Sustainable Development and Planning which is the most appropriate for the STREMAH papers. The Institute is planning to launch a new Journal on “Heritage Architecture, Studies, Repairs and Maintenance”. This is due to the excellent response of WIT conferences dealing with the topic, ie not only STREMAH but also Defence Heritage and Islamic Heritage Architecture and Art. Carlos hoped that the participants will consider contributing to the Journal.

Carlos explained that although the conference programme is of fundamental importance to fulfil WIT’s objectives, the Institute’s knowledge dissemination is also carried out through its research work. WIT’s special area of research is the development of advanced computer simulation codes. They are focussed on the solution of energy engineering, the type of which varies depending on the demands of practitioners. The current emphasis is on energy engineering and aerospace applications, fields in which WIT has carried out pioneering research.

The other important contribution of WIT is the publication of advanced scientific material through its WIT Transactions, Journals and monographs. The classical paper formats are now being superseded by digital publications, which ensure an even wider distribution.

Many developments are always taking place in the WIT Campus, located in the New Forest National Park, an area of outstanding beauty. Carlos invited the participants to visit the Institute, which will give them a better understanding of the work carried out by WIT.

Following that, Santiago Hernandez, Co-Chair of the conference, welcomed the delegates to A Coruña.

Conference Topics

The conference attracted a substantial number of presentations in a variety of topics. They were divided into the following:

  • Heritage architecture and historical aspects
  • Assessment and reuse of historical buildings
  • Industrial heritage
  • Learning from the past
  • Material characterisation
  • Heritage masonry buildings
  • Stone masonry walls
  • Modern (19th/20th century) heritage
  • Surveying and monitoring
  • Simulation and modelling
  • Seismic vulnerability
  • Wooden structures
  • Transportation heritage
  • Social and economic aspects in heritage

In addition, a special session was included in the programme, organised by Prof A Pagliuca, University of Basilicata, Italy on ‘Cultural Heritage: Characterisation, recovery and conservation’.

A further special session was organised by Prof J Lluis i Ginovart of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili on ‘Masonry strain in the Vall d’Aran churches’.

Invited Presentations

The conference programme was enhanced by several invited presentations given by well-known colleagues, ie

‘Modernization and adaptation of historical interiors’, by Jaroslaw Bakowski, Gdansk University of Technology, Poland

‘Experimental analysis of material properties of historical ceramic bricks and their potential current replacements’, by Robert Cerny, Czech Technical University.

‘An innovative cathodic protection system for steel framed heritage structures’, by Rene Brueckner, Mott MacDonald, UK.

‘Preliminary evaluation of piezoelectric sensors for the prediction of compression failure of brick masonry components’, by Carlos Cuadra, Akita Prefectural University, Japan.

‘Energy models towards the retrofitting of the historic built heritage’, by Fabio Fatiguso, Politecnico di Bari, Italy.

‘Uncertainty in resistance models for historic cast-iron columns’, by Karel Jung, Czech Technical University.

‘Analysis and seismic retrofit study of a heritage-listed R/C elevated water tower’, by Stefano Sorace, University of Udine, Italy.

‘Masonry strain in the Vall d’Aran churches’, by Josep Lluis i Ginovart, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain.

Conference Dinner

The conference banquet took place in a well-known local restaurant and the menu consisted of a series of excellent Galician specialities accompanied by local wines, particularly the renowned Albarino. A folklore ensemble played for the guests after dinner, their repertoire included a series of regional pieces. The group consisted of two bagpipes and two drums. The bagpipes are typical Galician instruments, part of the rich Galician culture of the region. The Galician bagpipes, more melodic than the ones from Scotland, are part of all local festivities or important family occasions.

The International Scientific Advisory Committee met over dinner at a renowned restaurant to discuss improvements to be made to the conference when it is reconvened in 2017. Several new topics were proposed and a few colleagues were nominated to join the Committee. The location of the 2017 meeting was discussed in detail and will shortly be announced.

Closing of the Conference

The conference was closed by Prof Patrick de Wilde, member of the WIT Board of Directors, who reiterated the Wessex Institute commitment to knowledge dissemination. Patrick hoped that the conference had been useful to the participants and that they were able to establish contacts with colleagues in other cities working in similar problems. Patrick invited the delegates to visit the WIT campus to learn more about the work carried out by the Institute. He also hoped that they would be able to participate in STREMAH 2017.

Conference Proceedings

The proceedings of STREMAH 2015 - Structural Studies, Repairs and Maintenance of Heritage Architecture XIV, 876pp (Print ISBN: 978-1-84564-968-5; eISBN: 978-18-4564-969-2) are available from WIT Press. Orders can be placed on the WIT Press web site at or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., telephone: +44 (0) 238 029 3223 or fax: +44 (0) 238 029 2853.

Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary in Volume 153 of WIT Transactions on the Built Environment (ISSN:1746-4498 Digital ISSN: 1743-3509). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at

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STREMAH 2015 - 13 - 15 July, 2015 Photos