Conservation sciences

Learning from ancient materials in order to develop building materials of the future

Many historical building materials - such as ancient Roman concrete - are extremely hardwearing and therefore far superior to modern materials. What makes these materials so durable? Is it possible to transfer these properties to new building materials? An interdisciplinary team from the field of conservation and materials science is exploring this topic.

Our focus is on understanding the various properties of the materials used by our predecessors and on transferring them to future applications. With our research work, which covers the areas of historical building materials, conservation and materials development, we are laying the foundation both for innovative approaches to the development of modern industrial products and for new ways of preserving existing cultural heritage.

Historical building materials

We analyze historical building materials both on existing buildings on site and in our laboratories. Our methods cover the entire spectrum, from macro through meso right down to the nano scale. The aim is not only to determine the compositions and raw materials, but also to understand and quantify aging processes.


The results of our analyses of historical building materials flow into applied conservation methods. We aim at reconstructing historical materials as well as at developing tailored restoration plasters and other conservation materials. Findings from long-term studies also contribute to sustainable conservation practices.

Material development

Antique building materials that are extremely hardwearing and have exceptional material properties are a source of inspiration for us today as we develop building materials for the 21st century. Resource efficiency and durability are key aspects of our research work.