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SPRECOMAH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 44131
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Belgium

Prevention is critical to saving cultural landmarks

Preventing problems is much more effective in terms of cost and prognosis than solving problems after the fact, whether it be in the field of medicine, in maintenance of machinery and equipment or even in protecting cultural heritage. EU-funded researchers fostered creation of an international network for preventive conservation of architectural cultural heritage that promises to minimise losses of the structures that help define who we are and from where we’ve come.
Prevention is critical to saving cultural landmarks
The ‘Seminars preventive conservation and monitoring of the architectural heritage’ (Sprecomah) project was initiated to share research results and knowledge regarding prevention of architectural heritage or immovable cultural property on an international scale and develop tools for decision makers.

The project organised two seminars. Participants exchanged information and research results from the Fifth and Sixth Framework Programmes (FP5 and FP6, respectively) with respect to preventive conservation and monitoring. They analysed recent developments in preservation and maintenance, identified research priorities and prepared a first draft of guidelines for future research. Priorities included development of tools for monitoring and documentation, with a review of recent results regarding damage atlases, a masonry diagnostic system and the RECORDIM initiative (Recording, Documentation, and Information Management for the Conservation of Heritage Places).

The researchers concluded that effective implementation of preventive conservation of architectural heritage requires integrated cultural and economic policy development and the inclusion of all stakeholders from the bottom up. In addition, public private partnerships are key to success and legislation should include mandatory maintenance plans, in particular as related to follow up of restoration.

Furthermore, the researchers identified the need to develop tools for decision makers that would enable application of preventive conservation strategies to specific cases. Finally, inclusion of preventive conservation coursework at the under- and post-graduate levels in related fields such as architecture, archaeology, chemical engineering and anthropology would enhance training and awareness on the part of young researchers and scientists to the critical and interdisciplinary role they can play in preserving architectural cultural heritage.

In an ever-globalised world that has broken down cultural barriers along with the physical walls that once separated countries, one side-effect has been the gradual loss of specific local cultures in the form of traditions, currencies and languages. While fostering the similarities that bring us together, it is important to cherish the cultural differences that have shaped us as well. The Sprecomah project outcomes promise to preserve the architectural history so important to cultural heritage and our sense of identity.

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