My experience in the SAHC Masters
As an engineer with a passionate interest in architectural heritage, I was looking for an advanced programme that would allow me to deepen my understanding of the technical issues relating to the structural safety of historical buildings, which is fundamental in the broader context of their conservation. In this perspective, the SAHC Masters Course is unique because it focuses on this aspect and places it within the complex framework of cultural heritage protection.
One of the main reasons why I am glad I chose SAHC is the multidisciplinary approach adopted in the course, which is extremely valuable when dealing with cultural heritage. During the course, one has the opportunity to explore different aspects related to the protection of historical buildings, but above all to understand how they are interconnected and how they all contribute to the global understanding of the whole problem.
Taking part in SAHC is a rich and intense experience, it is a full immersion in the topics that I am mainly involved in, surrounded by people from all over the world who share common interests and with whom one can continuously exchange ideas and information.
There is so much time and activities shared, inside and outside the classroom, that it is very natural to become part of a family. I think joining the SAHC community, which grows year after year, expands the boundaries of our mind and experience, and creates new connections and friendships that will last.
Of the things, I appreciated most about the organization of the course is the good balance between lectures and practical applications. We indeed completed a lot of group work, in which we carried out practical tasks using tools and procedures discussed during the classes. We also did a lot of lab work, where I was able to experience things I had only read about in books before! Finally, I enjoyed the field activities, both site visits, and the integrated project.
The latter was a great experience, shared with the best group I could have hoped for! We were involved in the structural safety evaluation of an iconic granite stone Sanctuary. The work allowed us on the one hand to visit and get to know in-depth a wonderful place in northern Portugal, and on the other hand to carry out an extensive site testing campaign.
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Last year we were lucky enough to complete all the coursework just before the start of the pandemic, but that didn’t stop our work on the dissertation. I found the dissertation time to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding ones because I had the chance to finally put everything I had learned during the year into a completely personal piece of work. We were supported at each stage of the work and everyone involved did their best to adapt to the new conditions.
Moreover, after completing my dissertation, I had the chance to join the on-site survey and experimental campaign that was originally planned as a task of the work and then canceled due to the pandemic. Taking part in this project in the fascinating context of the Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was a unique opportunity and one of the most interesting work experiences I have ever had. This also made it possible to take the work to the next step and check some of the assumptions adopted earlier.
I am very grateful to be back in the classroom two years after my graduation because the SAHC experience will definitely shape my professional path and has precisely oriented my later career choices. I had the opportunity to address the issue of architectural heritage protection in its multiple aspects, I have finally understood which ones the best suit my interests and I have acquired knowledge and tools to keep working on them.