The work of the conservation architect

The designing and management of conservation and repair projects for heritage buildings requires very specialized professionals. Conservation architects must have a deep knowledge of traditional building techniques as well as modern conservation technology. In addition, as surveys and investigations are conducted continuously before and during the whole repair process, conservation architects must have the required skills to conduct them and interpret their results. In Japan, only specialized conservation architects authorized by the government can work on the repair of buildings designated as Important Cultural Properties or National Treasures.

This specialized knowledge is acquired through systematic training courses of different levels carried out regularly at JACAM. In addition, junior conservation architects spend several years working on repair sites in order to gather the required experience to become chief conservation architects.

In the case of major repair projects, a chief conservation architect is permanently stationed at the preservation site for the whole duration of the works, establishing a site office next to the repaired building. For larger buildings, one or several assistant conservation architects are also stationed on site. In addition, a supervising conservation architect working from one of JACAM main offices is assigned to each repair site.

Repair works on site are carried out under the guidance of the Agency of Cultural Affairs (Ministry of Culture), and meetings are held regularly to discuss the details of the project with the building owner and with expert's committees established to supervise the repair.

Conservation architects work closely together with carpenters and other craftsmen, managing and documenting the whole repair process. Their work is essential to keep the high quality standards of Japanese architectural heritage preservation.

The work of the conservation architect01The work of the conservation architect02

Read More


JACAM was founded in 1971 by initiative of the Agency of Cultural Affairs as Japan's first nationwide association of conservation architects. It is at the same time a conservation architect's office and a training institute for conservation architects and craftsmen.

In Japan, conservation techniques that are considered indispensable for the conservation of cultural heritage are designated by the government as "Selected Conservation Techniques", and qualifying persons and organizations are officially recognized as holders of those techniques. In 1976, JACAM was officially recognized as a holder organization of two Selected Conservation Techniques: "Architectural Conservation" and "Carpentry Building Techniques". As such, one of JACAM's main responsibilities is ensuring the survival and transmission of these techniques through training programs for conservation architects and carpenters.

In 2009, JACAM was officially recognized as a non-profit foundation.


Read More