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Emily Foxen

MA work

Heritage by Design: How Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Shape the Modern Townscape in Wandsworth, 1970-2000

The decision to list a building does not preclude it from change, but does determine the way in which a building evolves. Amenity advocacy groups and conservation agencies are cautious to label their work ‘preservation’ for the implication of freezing time. For places like Stonehenge, the Tower of London, and other publicly accessed monuments, the desire to maintain historic elements is a balance of linking historically significant events with mass tourist appeal.

However, these kinds of monuments only make up a small percentage of those considered to be part of England’s heritage. Looking at the urban streetscape, the conservation efforts of the London Borough of Wandsworth highlight a different aspect of heritage, away from tourism and the monumental. By maintaining listed buildings and town conservation areas, communities seek to preserve aspects of their unique history. The relative ordinariness of certain listed buildings in Wandsworth and its designation of conservation areas reflect an interest in local history that ties directly to the assets the community values and the role they play in the historical narrative of the area. The continuation of certain characteristics, like the facades of mid-eighteenth-century residential cottages, green spaces, or industrial hubs, promote an idea of heritage and Englishness that appeals to the sensibilities of its residents through a connection to the past.

And yet, all of these elements are a part of an ‘imagined community’ with tangible cultural artefacts, such as historic buildings, red telephone kiosks, and mile posts forming an identity. This shared experience shaped by the historic environment creates a sense of place for an ever-changing urban community.


  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2015

  • Degrees

  • BA Art History, University of Minnesota, 2004