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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 is internationally recognised for her expertise in the study and conservation of Earth Buildings. 

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 heritage consultancy work including work in the UEA, Peru, Turkey and the UK including the development of a £3.5 million HLF funded Landscape Partnership Scheme. She joined the Department in York in 2016. 

Departmental roles

Director of Studies for the MA Sustainable Built Heritage, MA International Conservation Studies MA Conservation of Historic Buildings

Director of Teaching and Learning (2024 -

Chair of Board of Studies (2021 - 2024)

Undergraduate Admissions Tutor (2019 - 2022)

Postgraduate Admissions Tutor (2019 - 2022)

University roles

Subject contact for the MSc Building Conservation and MSc Timber Building Conservation at the 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

Woodward, S and Cooke, L. 2022. World Heritage: Concepts, Management and Conservation. Routledge.

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.


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

Earth Building UK and Ireland

2019. Elizabeth Castle Jersey Project



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


Dr Jigna Desai, CEPT University, Ahmedabad

Built Environment at York Research Network


Available PhD research projects

I am interested in supervising topics related to conservation and sustainability, particularly those involving vernacular materials, earth buildings, 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:

Sahar Basiri - Technical Study and Classification of Iranian Stucco Decoration

Samir Belgacem - Decolonizing heritage conservation and policy in Algeria: between consonance, dissonance, and (national) identity

Virajitha Chimalapati - Cultural Heritage Led Climate Change Adaptation of Historic Port Cities of Monsoon Asia: A Belt and Road Opportunity

Joe Empsall - Characterising the Historic Farmsteads of the Lake District National Park and World Heritage Site 

Pippa Pemberton - Tangled imperial roots: the 20th century journey of botanic gardens from colonial assemblages to sites of memory and global plant conservation

Shelby Schrank - Post-war Institutional Architecture: Unpacking Thoughtful Conservation Practices

Devakumar Thenchery - Interpreting Ritualistic Landscape of India; Kalamezhuth Paatt, a Case Example

Completed PhD Students:

Joanne Harrison - Back-to-back houses and their communities in 21st century Leeds

Alessandra Sprega - Understanding Local Risk Culture to build resilience: The case of the historic centres of York and Amatrice.




Undergraduate 3rd Year Approaching Global Challenges - Archaeology and Heritage

I also contribute to our 1st year Exploring Archaeology

Undergraduate Dissertations (on a very wide range of heritage and conservation topics)


Building Conservation Projects

Sustainable Conservation Challenges

Curated Placement

Postgraduate Dissertation (a small selection of recent dissertations supervised for the MA Conservation Studies and MA Conservation of 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
Senior Lecturer
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 a Trustee of the Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library

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

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

External Examiner University of Cardiff, University of Oxford

External Examiner University of Kent, University College Birmingham

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

Editorial duties


Editorial Board INTACH Journal of Heritage Studies

Editorial Board Journal of Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism

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


CEPT Vadnagar Art and Architecture Workshop, 2023

ICOMOS GA 2023 Conference Presentation

INTACH Training Academy Lecture Lecture 2023

Organiser Rethinking Heritage as Sustainability FutureBuild 2023

Keynote. Sustainability and Conservation Session. APRU University Museums Research Symposium 2021

CEPT Conservation and Documentation Workshop 2020 

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