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Louise Cooke
Senior Lecturer in Conservation



Louise Cooke is a conservation expert interested in sustainability, historic buildings, archaeological sites and landscapes. 

She undertook an undergraduate degree in Archaeology at the University of Birmingham and then worked for the Museum of London Archaeology Service before joining the Archaeology Commissions team at English Heritage. In 2001 she was based in Lebanon working on the archive from the post-civil war Beirut Souks excavations. She then returned to study at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, undertaking an MA in Managing Archaeological Sites, and her PhD researching approaches to the conservation of earth structures. Her fieldwork was undertaken in Central Asia and the Middle East with particular focus on the multi-period earthen cities of Ancient Merv (Turkmenistan).

From 2006 Louise combined teaching for the Open University with a wide-ranging portfolio of freelance and project-based work including work overseas (in the UEA, Peru and Turkey) and in the UK. Louise has been a consultant to the Abu Dhabi Association for Cultural Heritage (ADACH) and Global Heritage Fund (GHF). In the UK Louise has undertaken work for English Heritage and other local authorities including the development of a £3.5 million HLF funded Landscape Partnership Scheme.
She joined the Department in York in 2016. 

Departmental roles

Co-director for the MA Conservation Studies and MA Conservation Studies (Historic Buildings)

Undergraduate Admissions Tutor

Postgraduate Admissions Tutor

University roles

Subject contact Weald and Downland Living Museum



Louise is interested in the ways in which we value the past and how we pass that on to the future given the challenges posed by the changing climate of the 21st century. 

Louise's research on earth building materials show these challenges really well – their conservation isn’t ever a static ‘product’ but rather a process of managing and accepting change. Louise is interested in how this ‘process’ applies to the conservation of archaeological sites, historic buildings and landscapes – different materials and different types of building respond in different ways and in turn these provide opportunities to tell their stories and retain their significance in different ways.

Selected publications

Knoll, F, Pastor Quiles, M, Chazelles, A and Cooke L. 2019. On cob balls, adobe and daubed straw plaits - a glossary on traditional  earth building techniquies for walls in four languages. Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt.

Cooke, L. 2017. Architecture of Turkmenistan. Contribution to. Vernacular Buildings. A New World Survey S. Piesik (ed). Thames & Hudson.

Cooke, L. 2015. The heritage of earth buildings: process, substance and climate change. In. The Future of Heritage as Climates Change: Loss, Adaptation and Creativity. Harvey, D & Perry J (eds). Routledge, Key Issues in Cultural Heritage Series. p. 217-229.

Cooke, L. 2014. Earthen Architecture in Archaeological Conservation and Preservation Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology p. 2260-2265

Fodde, E and Cooke, L. 2013. Conservation of earth structures at Al Ain Abu Dhabi. Journal of Architectural Conservation Vol. 19, Issue 3.

Cooke, L. 2012. Emerging Debates. Heritage Theory, Environment and Development. In. Heritage, a driver for development, ICOMOS’ 17th General Assembly Scientific Symposium proceedings – Part V – Session 2. Adapting to climate change and new challenges. pp. 1076-1078.

Cooke, L. 2011. The Use of Historic Photographs for the Study of Earthen Architecture. In. Ranier, L, Bass Rivera, A and Gandreau, D. Terra 2008. 10th International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architecture February 1st-5th 2008. Bamako, Mali. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute. p.155-160.

Cooke, L. 2011. Earthen architecture in the United Kingdom. In. Terra Europae – Earthen Architecture in the European Union. Pisa, Italy: Edizioni ETS. p. 188-191.

Cooke, L, Chabenet, M, and O’Reilly, B. 2011. Earthen architecture in Northwestern Europe: Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern France. In. Terra Europae – Earthen Architecture in the European Union. Pisa, Italy: Edizioni ETS. p. 48-63.

Cooke, L, 2010. Conservation Approaches to Earthen Architecture in Archaeological Contexts. British Archaeological Reports International Series S2147. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Cooke, L. 2008. The archaeologist’s challenge or despair: reburial at Merv, Turkmenistan. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites. Vol. 9 No. 2, 97–112.

Cooke, L. 2007. Shir Dor Madrasa, Samarkand, Uzbekistan; Saminid Mausoleum, Bukhara, Uzbekistan; GreatKyz Kala, Merv, Turkmenistan. 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die. Quintessence, London.

Cooke, L. 2004. Earthen Building Materials and Techniques at Merv, Turkmenistan. Preprints 4th International Conference on Building with Earth. 29.-30 October 2004. Leipzig, Germany. Weimar Germany: Dachverband Lehm e.V.


Elizabeth Castle Jersey Project



2019 HEIF Funding for University of York, York Conservation Trust Rapid Condition Assessment Project


Heritage documentation in India: Walled cities project (collaboration with CEPT University, Ahmedabad)

Central Asian Archaeological Landscape Project 

Earth Building UK and Ireland


Available PhD research projects

I am interested in supervising topics related to conservation and sustainability, particularly those involving vernacular materials, crafts, living heritage, communities and conservation and culture:nature/nature:culture debates, alongside international conservation issues encountered on UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Current PhD Students:

Devakumar Trenchery



Undergraduate 2nd year World Archaeology option The Invention of World Heritage

Undergraduate 3rd year World Archaeology option The Invention of World Heritage

Undergraduate 3rd year Assessed Seminar option Sustaining the Historic Environment

Undergraduate dissertations



Postgraduate Approaches to Conservation
Postgraduate Issues in Cultural Heritage Conservation

Postgraduate Practical Building Conservation Skills

Postgraduate Heritage Protection

Postgraduate Sustainable Conservation Skills

Postgraduate Conservation Solutions

Postgraduate Dissertation (a small selection of recent dissertations supervised for the MA Conservation Studies and MA Conservation Studies (Historic Buildings):

  • Developing a New Earthquake Risk Management Approach for Mexico City ́s Cultural Property
  • Histories of Conservation: A Case Study of Chaco Culture National Historical Park
  • An Overview of Outstanding Universal Value: Whitby as a Potential World Heritage Site
  • Community engagement and our coastal heritage: lamenting loss or celebrating change?
  • Proteinaceous additives in lime mortar: a historical and analytical study
  • A future in the past: The Risks and Opportunities of Flood Insurance Claims in Historic Buildings
  • At a Crossroads: Motoring Heritage Structures and the Issues with Conserving a Twentieth Century Building Type in England
  • Managing the industrial ruin in a National Park context: A critical assessment of the conservation process.
  • The Significance of Eastfield, Scarborough – A 1950s Council Estate
  • The concept of authenticity in contested world heritage sites: the case study of Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town
  • The Vernacular Revival - a conservation approach to new build housing
  • Energy Management and the Historic Environment: The Feilden Building, Kings Manor
  • Reviving Places: role of community engagement in post-conflict recovery




Contact details

Dr Louise Cooke
Archaeology Department
University of York
The King's Manor

External activities


Louise was a founder member, director and is now Chair of Trustees for Earth Building UK and Ireland - the UK and Ireland’s earth building charity.

Louise is an expert member of the International ICOMOS Scientific Committee on Earthen Architectural Heritage.

IHBC (Affiliate member)

External Advisor, MSC Green Building, Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales.

External Examiner, PhD University of Cardiff

Desk-based reviewer for ICOMOS, World Monument Fund, British Council

Editorial duties

From 2007-2013 Louise was reviews editor for the Journal of Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites

Louise was the UK contributor to the Terra Europae Project 2011.

Invited talks and conferences


INTBAU Conference, Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, Zero Carbon Cultural Centre, Makli, Pakistan 2019

Launch of Central Asian Archaeological Landscape (CAAL) project, Samarkand, 2019

Earth Building UK and Ireland Conference, Rethinking Sustainability as Heritage, Centre for Alternative Technology, June 2019.

Seminar on Craft and Conservation as part of Making Things Making People Seminar Series, University College Dublin. 2019 

Workshop on Documentation and Cultural Heritage. CEPT University, Ahmedabad, 2018/2019

Heritage Trust Network. Sustainable Heritage Regeneration: a greener future for heritage projects, 2018

Invited Expert: World Heritage Young Professionals Forum, World Heritage Committee Meeting, National Museum of Bahrain, 2018

Lecture for Habitat: Applying the Lessons of Vernacular Architecture to Our Changing Planet, University of Westminster, 2017

Session coordinator International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) General Assembly, Delhi 2017



Media coverage