History and theory of the conservation of the built heritage: principles and approaches

Objectives and competences

The course aims to offer the students awareness of the different approaches to conservation and restoration of cultural heritage over time, and how these have resulted in the modern theory of conservation and the international conservation doctrine. The scope is to make the students competent in a cultural-critical methodology for the recognition of the qualities of cultural expressions, specific in each case.


No specific prerequisites are required.


h1. 1)Introduction: What is Cultural Heritage?
a)Terminology; the meaning of the common words, such as conservation, restoration, preservation, in the different languages at the present time, and how these are defined in the international doctrine.
b)Basic Concepts: what makes something “cultural heritage” and why cultural heritage matters in the different periods of history; this includes reflection on the notions of “history” and “historiography”, as well as “inheritance” and “heritage”.

h1. 2)Heritage Values and Valuation
a) The perception of the concept of value from the antiquity to modern times; attention is also given to the different religions; The questions of truthfulness and authenticity
b)Recognition of heritage resources in modern times; the heritage community, relation of economy and culture in community;
c)Methods of Assessment of Heritage; the process of defining the meaning and significance of a place, and how this is associated with value judgements; Reference to ICOMOS analyses on the Outstanding Universal Value, and other relevant resources;

h1. 3) Evolution of Heritage Conservation
a) Recognition of Heritage from the 15th to 19th centuries; identifying:
-Traditional approach; emphasis on use value but also elements of memory and respect;
-Rediscovery and discovery of historicity of monuments; Italian Renaissance, the 18th century philosophical approaches;
-Stylistic and historical restoration approaches; the influences of Viollet-le-Duc and others in restoration approaches;
-Conservation movement; the critical debates inspired by Ruskin and Morris;
-Philological and scientific approaches to restoration and conservation; the Italian contribution; including Gustavo Giovannoni;
-Modern conservation/restoration theory; developments in the second half of the 20th century;
-Ecological approach to culturally and environmentally sustainable development in late 20th and early 21st centuries;
b)In reference to the above, consideration of the restoration of Archaeological monuments in the development of practices from the late 18th to 20th centuries;
c)Stylistic Restoration of Medieval Buildings; early restoration practices in various European countries;
d)Conservation Movement and Modern Movement in Architecture; the debate and criticism of early restoration practices, and impact in different world regions;
e) Conservation and restoration in the 21st century

h1. 4)International Doctrine in Heritage Conservation
a)Early initiatives in protection; attention to the initiatives from the 18th to the early 20th centuries; League of Nations and associated organizations;
b)The development of International Organizations after WW2; the activities of UNESCO, ICOMOS, ICCROM, etc.
c)National and Regional Protection; references to legal frameworks in different countries;
d)International Doctrine (UNESCO, ICOMOS, COE);
e)World Heritage; what is OUV, and what are the requirements for inscription and management of World Heritage nominations;

h1. 5)Modern Theory of Restoration
a) Evolution of Conservation Approaches
b) Roots in Modern Philosophy (Nietzsche, Croce, Heidegger, etc.)
c) Modern Conservation-Restoration Theory (Argan, Brandi, etc.)
-Creative Process
-Restoration of Common Products
-Critical Process of Restoration (aim of restoration; restoration of works of art)
-Fundamental Concepts (whole, potential unity, spatiality, historical time line)
-Methodology of restoration (archaeological sites, works of art, historic buildings)
-Question of reconstruction

h1. 6) Recent Development of Policies
a) Question of authenticity and integrity
b) Conservation of historic urban areas (Italy, France, UK, etc.)
c) Methodologies of urban conservation (integrated conservation, sustainable development)
d) Cultural landscapes and vernacular heritage
e) Management of the built and natural territory; Challenges of globalisation

h1. 7) Management of Heritage Sites
a) World Heritage management guidelines
b) Integrated Management Plan
c) Practical Examples of Management Plans
d) Case Studies in Urban Conservation

Intended learning outcomes

The course provides students with knowledge and tools applied to cultural heritage. Case studies from different sectors are investigated, including the conservation of monuments and the built heritage in general, cultural and historic urban landscapes. With this course students should get more familiar with cultural language and benefit from information for the decision making process in the conservation management of heritage resources


Selected publications related to heritage conservation

Fundamental reading:

  • Jokilehto, J., 1999, A History of Architectural Conservation, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, (objavljeno v številnih drugih jezikih; vključuje obsežen seznam virov/published also in several other languages; contains a substantial bibliography) E-version
  • Brandi, C. 1963, Teoria del Restauro, Rome: Edizioni di storia e letteratura; English edition: Brandi, C. 2005, Theory of Restoration, Rome: Nardini Editore (prevedeno več jezikov/translated in several other languages)
  • ICOMOS Charters and other doctrinal texts E-version
  • UNESCO standard setting instruments, including international conventions, recommendations and declarations available in PDF: http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=12024&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html E-version
  • Council of Europe treatises concerning the cultural heritage E-version

Optional reading:

  • Ashurst, J. (ed.) 2007, Conservation of Ruins, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann
  • Bandarin, F. and Van Oers, R. (eds.), 2012, The Historic Urban Landscape: Managing Heritage in an Urban Century, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell
  • Cleere, H. 1989, Archaeological Heritage Management in the Modern World, [One World Archaeology Series, no. 9] London: Unwin Hyman E-version
  • Feilden, B.M. 1982 (3rd edition in 2003), Conservation of Historic Buildings, Oxford: Butterworth E-version
  • Feilden, B.M. and Jokilehto, J., 1993, Management Guidelines for World Cultural Heritage Sites, Rome: ICCROM (reprinted in 1998, and published in several other languages) E-version
  • Galla, Amareswar (ed.), 2012, World Heritage: Benefits Beyond Borders, UNESCO, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press E-version
  • Jokilehto, J., 2011, ICCROM and the Conservation of Cultural Heritage; A History of the Organization’s First 50 Years, 1959-2009, ICCROM Conservation Studies 11, Rome E-version
  • Larsen, K.E. (ed.), 1995, Nara Conference on Authenticity in Relation to the World Heritage Convention, Nara-Japan, Proceedings, Trondheim: Tapir Publishers
  • Larsen, K.E. and Marstein, N. (eds.), 1994, Conference on Authenticity in Relation to the World Heritage Convention, Preparatory Workshop, Bergen, Norway, Proceedings, Riksantikvaren, Norway, Trondheim: Tapir Publishers
  • Larsen, K.E. and Marstein, N., 2000, Conservation of Historic Timber Structures: An Ecological Approach, Oxford: Butterworth and Heinemann E-version
  • Marks, S. (ed.), 1996, Concerning Buildings, Studies in Honour of Sir Bernard Feilden, Oxford: Architectural Press E-version
  • Philippot, P., Mora, Laura & Paolo, 1977, La conservation des peintures murals, ICCROM, Bologna: Editrice Compositori (English edition: The Conservation of Mural Paintings, London: Butterworth) E-version
  • Proceedings of the International conferences of ICOMOS Theory Committee (Florence 2007, Vienna 2008, Florence 2009, Prague 2010, Florence 2011, Baku 2012), published with the support of Fondazione Romualdo del Bianco, Florence, and other sponsors, printed by Polistampa; (http://www.fondazione-delbianco.org/inglese/index_i.htm) E-version
  • Schnapp, A. 1993, La conquête du passé : Aux origines de l’archéologie, Paris : Éditions Carré (English edition: The Discovery of the Past) E-version
  • Stanley-Price et al. (eds.), 1995, Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute E-version
  • Stubbs, J., 2009, Time Honored: A Global View of Architectural Conservation, John Wiley & Sons, USA
  • The Getty Conservation Institute, 2000, Values and Heritage Conservation, Research Report by E. Avrami, R. Mason, and M. de la Torre, Los Angeles: GCI E-version
  • UNESCO, 2006, Proceedings of the International Conference on the Safeguarding of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage: Towards an Integrated Approach, Nara, Jana, 2004, Paris: UNESCO E-version
  • Vershuuren, B. et al. (eds.), 2010, Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature and Culture, London: Earthscan E-version
  • Von Droste, B. et al. (eds.), 1998, Linking Nature and Culture … ; Report of the Global Strategy Natural and Cultural Heritage Expert Meeting, Amsterdam 1998; UNESCO E-version
  • Warren, J. et al. (eds.), 1998, Context: New Buildings in Historic Settings, Oxford: Architectural Press

Optional publications available online:

  • ICCROM publications available in PDF: http://www.iccrom.org/eng/02info_en/02_04pdf-pubs_en.shtml
  • UNESCO World Heritage Publications available in PDF: http://whc.unesco.org/en/publications/ See especially: Resource Manuals: Managing Cultural World Heritage (2013), Managing Natural World Heritage (2012), Managing Disaster Risks for World Heritage (2010), Preparing World Heritage Nominations (2011); Paper Series: No. 27, Van Oers, R. (ed.), 2010, Managing Historic Cities, UNESCO; No. 26. Mitchell, N., et al., 2009, World Heritage Cultural Landscapes: a Handbook for Conservation and Management, UNESCO Paris; No. 13, Linking Universal and Local Values: Managing a Sustainable Future for World Heritage, Conference Proceedings 2003, UNESCO 2004;
  • ICOMOS Publications available in PDF: http://www.icomos.org/en/ See especially: Monuments and Sites XII, 2005, The World Heritage List: Filling the Gaps - an Action Plan for the Future, ICOMOS, Munich; Monuments & Sites XVI, 2008, What is OUV? Defining the Outstanding Universal Value of Cultural World Heritage Properties, ICOMOS, Munich; Monuments & Sites I, 2004, International Charters for Conservation and Restoration, ICOMOS, Munich

International Journals in Conservation for complementary reading, such as:

  • Bulletin Monumental (Société Française d’Archéologie)
  • Change Over Time: an International Journal of Conservation and the Built Environment (University of Pennsylvania Press)
  • City and Time (CECI, Brazil)
  • Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites (Maney Publishing, UK)
  • Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, IJHS (Emerald)
  • ICOMOS Monumentum, The International Journal of Architectural Conservation (historical)
  • ICOMOS-ICLAFI E-Journal in Heritage conservation
  • International Journal of Heritage Studies (Taylor & Francis, UK)
  • Journal of Architectural Conservation (Taylor & Francis, UK)
  • Museum International (UNESCO)
  • Studies in Conservation (IIC, International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works)
  • The Art Newspaper (Italy)


75% Assessment of the individual research work and discussion of the contents in group. 25 % Written exam, which assesses knowledge of the fundamental concepts.

Lecturer's references

Current functions:
− Extraordinary Professor, University of Nova Gorica (Slovenia).
− Special Advisor to Director General of ICCROM,
− International consultant in architectural and urban conservation, including consultancy to ICCROM, ICOMOS and UNESCO.
− Former President of the International Training Committee of ICOMOS (1993-2002);
− Member of the ICOMOS Theory Committee.

− Graduated in architecture and urban design at Helsinki Polytechnic (1966).
− ICCROM International Architectural Conservation Course (1971)
− Doctor in Philosophy at the University of York, UK (1986).
Working experience:
− Worked as architect and city planner in Finland till 1970.
− Responsible for the Architectural Conservation section at ICCROM from 1972 till retirement from the position of Assistant Director General in 1998.
− World Heritage Advisor to ICOMOS from 2000 till 2006.
− Consultant to the preparation of Conservation Master Plans and Management Plans in World Heritage properties;

Publications include:
− A History of Architectural Conservation (Butterworth-Heinemann, 1999, reprinted; translated in several languages),
− ICCROM and the Conservation of Cultural Heritage: A History of the Organization’s First 50 Years, 1959-2009 (ICCROM, Rome, 2010)
− Jointly with Sir Bernard M. Feilden, Management Guidelines for World Heritage Sites, (ICCROM, 1993, new edition in 1998; translated in several languages)
− ICOMOS Monuments & Sites XVI, The World Heritage List: What is OUV? (ICOMOS, Berlin, 2008)