‘Wet walls’ project

Developing 4D moisture survey techniques for historical buildings

This project seeks to compare existing imaging techniques for evaluating the moisture content of historic walls, in order to develop combinative or novel methodologies that expands the spatial and temporal dimensionality of moisture analysis in the built environment.

Moisture ingress is a primary deterioration method of organic and inorganic materials, including concrete, stone, and wood, which have commonly been employed in historic constructions. Moisture analysis of these structures has typically employed a single imaging technology providing a limited picture of the true potential for damage. These walls provide a convenient situation in which to study the interplay between the materials’ physical properties and common imaging techniques, including resistivity surveys, infrared thermography, and microwave moisture sensors.

Understanding the spatial and temporal characteristics of moisture interaction with these materials can increase the precision and accuracy of structural analysis, while potentially identifying extraneous or uninformative methods for particular conditions. It is expected that this project will identify relevant imaging requirements based on environmental and material context, while also providing the opportunity for the development of new technologies.

Conclusions from this study have broader ramifications for contemporary and future construction techniques, built environment policy development, and environmental and geological sciences.

Project partners

Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage, and Archaeology

Rock Breakdown Laboratory
School of Geography and the Environment
University of Oxford

Institute for Sustainable Heritage
Bartlett School of Energy, Environment, and Resources
University College London

Historic Scotland

Stone Conservation Services
Consarc Design Group