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HeritageCARE: Preventive conservation of built cultural heritage in the

South-West Europe

Chapter · January 2018


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7 authors, including:

Luís F. Ramos Maria Giovanna Masciotta

University of Minho University of Minho


Maria José Morais Miguel Azenha

University of Minho University of Minho


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HeritageCARE: preventive conservation of built cultural heritage in the
South-West Europe
L.F. Ramos, M.G. Masciotta, M.J. Morais, M. Azenha, T. Ferreira, E.B. Pereira & P.B.
ISISE, University of Minho, Department of Civil Engineering, Guimarães, Portugal

ABSTRACT: Currently, no systematic policy for the preventive conservation of built cultural heritage ex-
ists in South-West Europe. Existing approaches for inspection, diagnosis, monitoring and curative conserva-
tion are normally intermittent, unplanned, overpriced and lacking in methodical strategy. The available finan-
cial resources are scarce and they are mostly addressed to listed buildings. Besides, owners often conceal an
inborn reluctance to invest in preventive conservation and maintenance programs.
In the light of these considerations, the HeritageCARE project has recently been launched with the purpose
of unfolding an integrated and sustainable strategy for the preventive conservation of built cultural heritage
within South-West Europe. This project involves 3 Countries (Portugal, Spain and France), 8 beneficiary
partners and 11 associated partners. The main aim of the paper is to present the key aspects of the project, its
objectives and challenges, and to outline the multilevel methodology that will be implemented and validated
through 60 case-study structures.

1 INTRODUCTION out when the severity and visual impact of damage

are of such an extent that urgent remedial measures
With a population of 76.8 million inhabitants and an become imperative. This reactive approach leads to
average density of 97 inhabitants/km2, the Southwest overpriced interventions and considerable invest-
Europe – Portugal, Spain and Southwest France (In- ments of societal and financial resources. In most
terreg-Sudoe 2017), hereafter called SUDOE, boasts cases, national funding is insufficient or addressed to
approximately 31,163 heritage listed buildings (Fig. listed buildings and substantial interventions, thus
1), being unknown the number of non-listed build- the great majority of built heritage is at risk. Another
ings with architectural or historic interest. important aspect is the absence of appropriate
The cultural identity of the SUDOE territory is maintenance and proactive preventive conservation
deeply reflected into the construction systems spread plans to help owners minimize damage and deterio-
all over this area. Although different technical solu- ration processes on their buildings in the medi-
tions and morphological/typological portrayals are um/long term. Last, but not least, is the scepticism of
found in each of the SUDOE regions, common types building managers/owners to invest in preventive
of construction systems, damage and deterioration conservation programs due to the lack of information
processes can be identified (HeritageCare 2017a). about the real benefits associated with regular in-
In terms of heritage preservation, the driving spections and prevention measures (HeritageCare
principles of the SUDOE countries are very well 2017a).
aligned with the UNESCO methodology and rec- At government level, each SUDOE country has
ommendations (UNESCO 1954, 1970, 1972, 2001, its own institutions designated to the preventive con-
2003 & 2005). Nevertheless, a systematic and inte- servation of cultural heritage. However, no integrat-
grated approach for preventive conservation of built ed and sustainable strategy able to involve all differ-
cultural heritage does not exist in these regions. This ent actors working in the fields of inspection,
is not only due to the lack of knowledge about good monitoring and preventive conservation of built en-
maintenance and preventive conservation practices, vironment has been implemented up to now. Each
but also to the lack of financial resources, which country acts on its own by following its own actua-
hinders owners from undertaking conservation ac- tion strategy and applying its own management
tions on their properties. tools.
Current strategies mainly focus on curative con-
servation and restorative treatments, often carried
entities; national and regional authorities; construc-
tion, rehabilitation and inspection sectors; universi-
ties and research centres.

Figure 1. Distribution of listed heritage buildings by Region in

Southwest Europe.


2.1 Focus and objectives
The HeritageCARE project – monitoring and pre- Figure 2. Actors involved in the HeritageCARE project.
ventive conservation of historic and cultural heritage
– arises in response to the need of a systematic and
sustainable approach for the preventive conservation The ultimate goal and challenge of the project is
of built heritage in Southwest Europe. A funding of the creation of a non-profit self-sustaining entity that
1,686,282.82 € has been allocated by the European will keep pursuing the HeritageCARE mission once
Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the In- the project is concluded.
terreg-SUDOE program to finance this three-year
project, which has started in September 2016. For 2.2 The Consortium
the purpose of this paper, the definition of ‘cultural
heritage’ adopted in the UNESCO Convention of The project Consortium is composed of 8 benefi-
1972 shall be considered (Jokilehto 2005). ciary partners, counting a total number of 27 collab-
Driven by the principle “prevention is better than orators and researchers distributed among the three
cure”, the focus of the HeritageCARE project is to partner countries, i.e. Portugal, Spain and France.
give rise to a joint strategy based on a multi-level Beyond the University of Minho, leader and coordi-
system of services for the systematic inspection, di- nator of the project, there are the Regional Direction
agnosis, monitoring and management of heritage as- of North Culture and the Centre of Graphic Compu-
sets – whether listed or not – in the SUDOE territo- tation for Portugal; the Santa Maria La Real Founda-
ry. Beyond traditional tools, such a strategy will tion of Historic Heritage, the University of Salaman-
leverage the latest advances in digitization and smart ca and the Andalusian Institute of Historic Heritage
technologies to keep abreast of the times and further for Spain; the Universities of Clermont-Auvergne
enhance the quality of the services provided. and Limoges for France. Besides, the Consortium
Among the main objectives that HeritageCARE counts 11 associated partners, whose support will be
envisages to accomplish in the short/medium term indispensable for the success the project. As for Por-
are the creation of a database for buildings/assets tugal, there are the Portuguese Association of Old
management, information exchange, and the stand- Houses, the Archdiocese of Braga and the Guild of
ardization of methods and tools for maintenance and Companies for Conservation and Restoration of Ar-
preventive conservation of heritage buildings/assets. chitectural Heritage. Regarding Spain, there are the
In this regard, guidelines and rules of “good prac- Spanish Association of Cultural Heritage Managers,
tice” will be developed during the project. In the the Adeco Camino and the Hispania Nostra Associa-
long-term, the HeritageCARE mission is to raise tion. Finally, concerning France, there are the Archi-
public awareness about the societal and economic tectural Atelier Pantheon and the Architecture Office
benefits associated with the adoption of preventive Pascal Parmantier – Heritage Architect.
conservation measures as well as to engage society The HeritageCARE headquarters is based in
in the conservation process of historic assets by in- Guimarães, at the Institute of Science and Innovation
volving all possible actors working in heritage- for Bio-Sustainability (IB-S) of the University of
related fields (Fig. 2), such as owners and managers Minho, leader partner of the project.
of historic buildings; tourists; heritage management
3 THE METHODOLOGY years, thereby allowing to compare the health condi-
tion of the building over time.
The methodology through which HeritageCARE will
operate in the three countries is soundly aligned with Table 1. HeritageCARE grading system for condition and risk
CEN standards (EN 15898, EN 16095, EN 16096) classification.
and relies on a system of services for the periodic in- Condi- Urgency
spection and monitoring of historic buildings sup- Class tion Symp- Risk
No. Classi- toms Classifi-
ported by advanced technologies. This system of fication cation
services is organised in three levels (Fig. 3). Each No immediate ac-
service level includes the previous one, thereby fea- No
Long tions required |
turing different costs per different levels. The choice 0 Good symp-
term Preventive moni-
of the service level depends on the owners’ needs toring is necessary
and financial resources. However, HeritageCARE The condition of
the fabric is not
will try to keep all three service levels as affordable perfect but does
as possible to help owners/managers embark on the Minor
Medium not need immedi-
conservation process of their properties. 1 Fair Symp-
term ate action | Moni-
toring is necessary
to prevent further
The condition of
Moder- the fabric is such
ately that it needs time-
2 Poor Strong ly repair or addi-
Symp- tional inspection
toms and diagnosis
Urgent repair is
Figure 3. Schematic summary of HeritageCARE methodology. Major Urgent necessary |Urgent
3 Bad Symp- and Im- additional inspec-
toms mediate tion and diagnosis
3.1 Service Level 1 – StandardCare work
Parts that are ‘not
Although less complex and demanding than others, Parts not inspected’ are ei-
Service Level 1 (SL1) is considered the most im- NA/
(safely) Not In- ther not (safely)
portant of HeritageCARE service levels. Simple, NI accessi- spected accessible for the
feasible and low-cost, SL1 shall allow a rapid condi- ble building inspec-
tors or not visible
tion screening of the conservation status of the herit-
age buildings along with their integrated assets.
The condition survey is carried out through on-site Object information, inspection data and reports
inspections and is aimed at identifying building pa- will be progressively stored in a 4D database to keep
thologies and deterioration processes in due time. track of the conservation status of all inspected
Prior to inspection, a historic analysis of the buildings. This database will be used to feed a web-
building is made to get acquainted with previous based platform for HeritageCARE subscribers to
structural interventions, maintenance works, func- easily access and retrieve the stored information (for
tional changes over time, and so forth. Then, quali- privacy’s sake access to contents will be restricted
fied teams of professionals perform detailed on-site depending on the user authorization). In case of seri-
inspections with the support of specific fillable ous problems, both owners and national Heritage au-
forms/e-forms. The overall condition of the con- thorities will be alerted through the system. If neces-
struction is assessed based on a grading scale system sary, owners will be also advised to contact experts
(Table 1) that associates a weighted index to each of in order to perform in-depth inspection and diagno-
the inspected items (HeritageCare 2017b). Accord- sis works, and to plan a prompt intervention.
ing to this criterion, the need for urgent remedial
measures or additional inspection and diagnosis 3.2 Service Level 2 - PlusCare
works is automatically detected.
Based on the inspection outcome, HeritageCARE Service Level 2 (SL2) is conceived to increase and
will elaborate a short easy-to-read report with advic- further detail the level of information of the inspect-
es and recommendations for owners, pointing out all ed buildings and related indoor assets, like altars,
necessary conservation and maintenance actions that tapestries and paintings to cite a few instances, inte-
they should undertake in the short, medium and long grating and complementing the information collected
term to prevent further decay. Depending on the type in SL1. To this end, advanced techniques and
and conservation status of the object, inspections equipment might be required, such as geomatics and
will be repeated at regular intervals, e.g. every 2-3 associated tools for 3D recording (e.g. UAV photo-
grammetry, laser scanner, back-pack mapping). compass the most representative structural typolo-
Nevertheless, HeritageCARE commits to keeping gies identified in the SUDOE territory.
SL2 fieldwork as convenient and viable as possible, Service Level 1 will be applied to 60 case studies,
and so the final products. namely 20 buildings per partner country. Out of
The main outputs of this level are the 3D model- these 60 case studies, 15 will be selected for the im-
ling and virtualization of the inspected heritage plementation of Service Level 2, counting 5 build-
structure, with the incorporation of all information ings per country. Finally, considering the higher
acquired up to this stage (beyond SL1 information, complexity of the services when raising the level of
there might be additional documentation from the the methodology, Service Level 3 will be exclusively
inventory of integrated assets or data from structural applied to one building per country, resulting in a to-
monitoring activities and ND testing). These models tal number of 3 case studies (Fig. 4). During the pro-
will be also used to produce 2D technical drawings ject time frame, the services provided by Herit-
of the construction, i.e. plans, sections and eleva- ageCARE will have no cost or charge for those
tions. whom will be joining the system.
The data and outputs generated in SL2 will be up-
loaded, organized and managed in the database, thus
allowing HeritageCARE subscribers to access them
anytime through the afore-mentioned web platform
and eventually use this material for tourism purpos-
es, heritage promotion and fruition, etc.

3.3 Service Level 3 - TotalCare

Figure 4. Distribution of HeritageCARE case studies by service
Service Level 3 (SL3) is devoted to the integration level.
and management of information obtained from for-
mer levels into the HeritageCARE database, by lev-
eraging the Building Information Modelling (BIM) 4 ONGOING PROJECT ACTIVITIES
with application to heritage structures – hence the
acronym hBIM (Arayici et al., 2017). Digital models The initial months of the project have been devoted
of the inspected historic buildings are built, accessed to the elaboration of a first report aimed at character-
and manipulated through this intelligent 3D model- izing and contextualizing the built cultural heritage
based process, including building constituent materi- present over the SUDOE territory as well as shed-
als, integrated assets, and costs associated with ding light on the current status of preventive conser-
maintenance plans and management operations. In vation in the three SUDOE countries. The scope of
other words, BIM environment enables faster infor- the report was to gather and organise all information
mation sharing, more accurate resolutions, visual necessary to embark on the activities established for
representation of potential issues, better integration the three service levels and to outline the best actua-
between preventive conservation actions and man- tion strategy in terms of conservation measures and
agement systems, and much more. recommendations. Online questionnaires have been
Supported by hBIM, SL3 will allow HeritageC- sent to owners and managers of the historic and cul-
ARE to streamline the conservation and manage- tural buildings belonging to the SUDOE territory to
ment process of complex and singular heritage con- get a better insight into the status quo of such prop-
structions, resulting of great help for owners and erties, especially regarding use, state of conservation
managers of monumental fabrics. Fulcrum of SL3 is and major maintenance problems experienced. The
to guarantee the interoperability between hBIM information so collected is now being exploited for
models and the database of HeritageCARE at the development of ad hoc inspection tools, such as
SL1/SL2. interactive mobile apps linked to a damage atlas for
assisting HeritageCARE inspectors in the characteri-
zation of the types of damage affecting the buildings
3.4 Implementation and validation and in the identification of possible causes and con-
sequences of damage. It is worth noting that an effi-
During the project, the HeritageCARE methodology cient preventive conservation program can only be
presented in the previous sections will be imple- planned on the basis of a correct and thorough diag-
mented and validated through real case-study struc- nosis.
tures to be chosen among the great variety of herit- The afore-mentioned report provided an over-
age buildings spread over the SUDOE territory. Note view of the most common construction systems,
that these case studies will be selected so as to en- types of damage and deterioration processes that are
found within the SUDOE territory. Each region fea-
tures different morphological and typological por- both traditional media channels and new Internet
trayals, but dwelling, religious and military construc- communication vehicles, like webpages and social
tions are the most recurrent structural typologies in media platforms, are being used so as to reach out as
Southwest Europe. In what concerns the construction many people as possible and to raise public aware-
systems, five main types have been identified, name- ness of the benefits of regular inspections and
ly masonry, rammed earth, timber, iron and concrete maintenance programs in the conservation process of
constructions. For each system, the relevant con- built cultural heritage. Target-oriented seminars, fo-
struction components have been classified and rums, workshops and training schools will be organ-
grouped based on their structural role within the ised to present the multi-level methodology through
building, distinguishing among structural system, which HeritageCARE is operating and provide a live
building envelope, partitions and installations (Her- platform for debate, information exchange and
itageCare 2017a). knowledge transfer.
As for the integrated objects, it was deemed more
appropriate to categorize them depending either on
the type of material (stone, wood, gold, silver, cop-
per, iron, ceramic, textile and others) or on the type
of object (paintings, frescos, sculptures, altarpieces,
furnishings, glazed tiles or other kinds of movable
objects, such as weapons, books, fabrics, jewellery
and the like).
Definition and illustrations of recurrent types of
damage and deterioration processes for both con-
struction systems and integrated objects are currently
being organized in the form of a damage atlas (Her-
itageCare 2017a, MDCS 2017, Monumentenwacht
2017, ICOMOS 2008), where potential causes, con-
sequences and correlations between different types
of damage are identified and ordered based on the
affected materials and construction elements as well
as according to possible prevention and mitigation
actions. For obvious reasons, besides English, the
damage atlas is being translated in the three SUDOE
languages, viz. Portuguese, Spanish and French.
At the present time, the HeritageCARE Consorti-
um is detailing the key steps of the methodology for
preventive conservation of historic and cultural
buildings. The technical requirements and specifica-
tions for the tools to be used in each service level are
also being defined along with the layout and contents
of the outputs to deliver to owners and stakeholders
(Fig. 5).
These activities are resulting into two additional
reports which will mark the conclusion of the first
year of the project (HeritageCare 2017b,c). Even
though still in progress, the methodology is already
being tested on a few case studies (beginning from
Service Level 1) so as to evaluate its pros and cons,
and opt for a refinement in case of necessity. A criti-
cal appraisal is fundamental at this stage, before pro-
ceeding with the inspection of all selected case-study
structures and the standardization of methods &
tools for the development of guidelines and rules of
“good practice”.
Transversal tasks related to the management and
communication of the HeritageCARE project are be-
ing run as well, paying particular attention to the dis-
semination and promotion of the objectives, activi- Figure 5. Example of layout for owner’s report.
ties and progressive achievements of the project
among the desired target audiences. To this purpose,
Drawing inspiration by the Flemish example of document, HeritageCARE (Report of the Project Activity
Monumentenwacht visited in February, in these last 1.3).
ICOMOS, 2008. Illustrated Glossary on Stone Deterioration
months the HeritageCARE partnership has started to Patterns. MONUMENTS AND SITES (XV).
move some steps forward in the definition and or- Interreg-Sudoe, 2017. https://www.interreg-
ganization of the management/financial structure of
the future non-profit entity. Issues related to its legal programme.
characterization and statute will be addressed in the Jokilehto, J. 2005. Definition of cultural heritage: References
forthcoming months. to documents in history. ICCROM Working Group 'Herit-
age and Society'.
MDCS, 2017. The Monument Diagnosis and Conservation Sys-
tem, “”.
5 FINAL REMARKS AND CONCLUSIONS Monumentenwacht The Netherlands, 2017.
The HeritageCARE project aims at implementing a UNESCO, 1954. Convention for the Protection of Cultural
new methodology for preventive conservation of his- Property in the Event of Armed Conflict with Regulations
for the Execution of the Convention, United Nations Educa-
toric and cultural buildings in Southwest Europe by tional, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Hague Conven-
involving all societal actors working in heritage- tion.
related fields. Despite the economic and cultural UNESCO, 1970. Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and
challenges associated with the achievement of the Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Own-
envisaged objectives, HeritageCARE partners are ership of Cultural Property, Paris Convention.
UNESCO, 1972. Convention concerning the Protection of the
jointly working for the development of a systematic World Cultural and Natural Heritage, United Nations Edu-
and integrated strategy that will allow to streamline cational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, The General
both conservation and management issues of built Conference of the UNESCO, Paris.
heritage in Portugal, Spain and South of France, en- UNESCO, 2001. Convention of the Protection of Underwater
suring the future sustainability of the approach as Cultural Heritage, United Nations Educational, Scientific
well as the direct engagement of the society in the and Cultural Organization, The General Conference of the
UNESCO, Paris.
preservation process of built environment. UNESCO, 2003. Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intan-
gible Cultural Heritage, United Nations Educational, Scien-
tific and Cultural Organization, The General Conference of
UNESCO, 2005. Convention on the Protection and Promotion
This work was carried out within the scope of the of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, The
project HeritageCARE (SOE1/P5/P0258), co-funded General Conference of the UNESCO, Paris.
by the Interreg-Sudoe/FEDER program and included
in the research activities of the ISISE Research Cen-
tre, also financed by FEDER funds through the
Competitiveness Factors Operational Program –
COMPETE and by national funds through FCT –
Foundation for Science and Technology within the
scope of the project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007633.


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Dweidar, K (Ed.) 2017, Heritage Building Information
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1138645684, ISBN-10: 1138645680
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eral terms and definitions.
EN 16095:2012 Conservation of cultural property – Condition
recording for movable cultural heritage.
EN 16096:2012 Conservation of cultural property – Condition
survey and report of built cultural heritage.
HeritageCare, 2017a. Survey of construction systems, type of
damages and deterioration processes within the SUDOE ter-
ritory. Unpublished document, HeritageCARE (Report of
the Project Activity 1.1).
HeritageCare, 2017b. Technical requirements for the tools to
develop in the HeritageCare project. Unpublished docu-
ment, HeritageCARE (Report of the Project Activity 1.2).
HeritageCare, 2017c. General methodology for the preventive
conservation of cultural heritage buildings. Unpublished

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