The promoters and signatories of this Appeal
• aware of today’s challenges;
• aware of the fragility of the tangible and intangible urban cultural heritage of historic cities with regard to new social and economic conditions;
• aware of the environmental fragility of historic cities;
• aware of the urgency and need for adequate, specific and pertinent regulatory tools;
• aware that the tangible and intangible urban heritage of historic cities represents a model for ecological and social sustainability consolidated over the centuries and one that is at high risk of disappearing within a generation as a result of the transformation of historic cities into a commodity;
• aware that the importance of historic cities is recognised by national protection laws or by inclusion on the World Heritage List;
the promoters and signatories of the present Appeal
• invite a reflection on the useful functions to society of tangible cultural assets subject to protection, as stated in the 1964 Venice Charter (International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, Art. 5)*;
• ecognise that cultural heritage is not limited to tangible cultural assets alone, as is recognised in the 2005 Faro Convention (Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, Art. 2)**;
• share the vision of a culture of high-quality construction as contained in the 2018 Davos Declaration (Art. 7)***;
and consequently share the following.
Part I Purpose Appeal for a renewed culture of the urban heritage
This Appeal has the following aims:
a) to encourage, disseminate, preserve and pass on the heritage and urban culture of historic towns, as lived-in places where normal town life is conducted and made up of tangible and intangible elements, through the study and comparison with other towns, with the aim of addressing today’s challenges;
b) to raise awareness of the risks involved in the loss of the culture and urban heritage of historic cities, such as through depopulation, the degradation of the social and physical fabric of abandoned places or the radical transformation of places of residence into short-stay accommodation, with the consequent loss of a sense of belonging to a community, of the significance of monuments, places of worship and memory, the resulting erosion of identity and possible cultural comparisons and the loss of legality, increase in land consumption and environmental damage caused by new subdivisions and transport infrastructure outside city centres;
c) to preserve and add to the quality and multiplicity of the tangible and intangible urban heritage in order to assure a higher quality of life rather than reducing it to a few functions that are mainly commercial and receptive (leisure/tourism) or merely fall within the service sector;
d) to encourage and implement the forms of sustainability handed down by the urban culture of historic cities, such as the minimal use of resources accompanied by the continuous reuse of the built environment, land conservation through density, pedestrian mobility and public transport, favoured by compactness and proximity, the use of local resources and ecological building techniques. This in addition to respect for the environment, the plurality and coexistence of functions necessary for resident communities, and including the protection of the local economic fabric and promotion of long-term social cohesion and well-being.
Part II Measures for the protection of the culture and urban heritage of historic towns
In order to achieve the aims of the Appeal it is necessary:
a) to study the different tangible and intangible elements forming the identities of historic cities with appropriate methods and raise awareness of the fact that culture and urban heritage depend on communication between these elements, and that both the architectural and artistic heritage and the social life of the inhabitants as well as their relationship with guests are part of these. This must be done in the awareness that processes of identity loss are difficult to reverse and lead to cultural and social impoverishment of more than just the historic cities themselves;
b) to identify and analyse the constantly evolving actions that lead to the destruction of culture and the urban heritage and counteract them. These actions might take the form of physical destruction or climate change, the relocation of residential areas, of services and of the necessary commercial fabric, but also the decentralisation of workplaces, oversized mobility infrastructure and excessive tourism;
c) to local administrators and the community must take short-term action to combat pollution, intensive and parasitic exploitation, the formation and consolidation of near monopolies, the destruction and abuse of material goods, the removal of services to citizens, the privatisation of public land and the removal, through a change of function, of areas from public use and residency to one of commercial exploitation with no return for the community; the whole in strict compliance with existing protection regulations;
d) to foster a culture of social, economic and ecological sustainability with:
• a culture of protection of historical diversity and stratification;
• a culture of maintenance and preservation of the tangible and intangible urban heritage;
• a culture of innovation and renewal that includes, rather than excludes, history;
• a culture of compatibility of functions, both with the material aspects of buildings and urban spaces, and with their functions as they are embedded within the context of the community, taking into account also pre-existing functions;
• a culture of service to the citizen, which includes safeguarding the presence of public offices, health services, schools and universities, sports facilities, the residential economic and commercial fabric of a community and the satisfaction of its basic needs within a given territory;
• a culture of legality, understood as respect for the rules governing the exercise of a community’s daily activities and for the rules of behaviour and civil coexistence, as an indispensable safeguard of the identity of a community against all forms of abuse and illegal exploitation of the resources of a territory;
• an ecologically and socially sensitive and responsible culture of tourism in order not to alter the balance with the other functions of the city; and one directed towards the quality of the offer.
Part III Measures for the development of the culture and urban heritage of historic towns
Promoting the development of the culture and urban heritage of historic towns requires the adoption of at least the following measures:
a) the formulation of national, regional and local visions and policies, including long-term ones, to foster residence, skilled work, access to culture, respect for the environment, sustainability and social and cultural prosperity;
b) the proposal of regulatory instruments for the definition of intended goals, with particular reference to the role of urban planning and the evaluation of its consequences; for laws for the protection and development and the regulation of economic and commercial activities that have special relevance to the characteristic expressions of the territory or country of reference, including through the imposition of limits and conditions, derogating from the general regulations, on the use of assets and the exercise of economic activities, when necessary for the protection and preservation of the social fabric, cultural identity and specificity of the urban context and its community;
c) the proposal of tax instruments to encourage residency (tax relief) or to discourage the intensive exploitation of goods and resources (polluter pays principle);
d) the involvement of the public and private sectors in forms of collaboration between citizens and the public administration for the care, management and redevelopment of public assets;
e) the solicitation and encouragement of public and private funding for social and economic investments and support for revitalisation projects by adopting awards criteria for the purpose of conservation and sustainable development for the allocation of funding;
f) the encouragement of interdisciplinary, national and supranational exchanges to compare different experiences and to foster awareness of the importance of the role of UNESCO governance policies (Steering Committee, Heritage Impact Assessment procedures, etc.);
g) the supporting of education, research and dissemination through museums, libraries, archives, theatres, cinemas and other institutions located in the city, considering these as indispensable players that contribute concretely to the quality of life in a city.
Part IV Measures for the promotion of the Appeal
The signatories and promoters of this Appeal undertake:
a) to promote the diffusion of the Appeal and of the principles it contains using every means available;
b) to meet regularly, including remotly, to dicuss the progress and critical issues encountered, and in plenary sessions to be held every two years on the occasion of the Venice Biennale of Architecture;
c) to invite local and national policy-makers and administrators, as well as other associations and institutions, to commit themselves to formulating measures for the protection and development of urban culture in the spirit of this Appeal, taking into account local specificities.
* The conservation of monuments is always facilitated by making use of them for some socially useful purpose. Such use is therefore desirable but it must not change the lay-out or decoration of the building. Any modification required by a change of function must therefore be envisaged within these limits only.
** Cultural heritage is a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time; a heritage community consists of people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations.
*** We urgently need a new, adaptive approach to shaping our built environment; one that is rooted in culture, actively builds social cohesion, ensures environmental sustainability, and contributes to the health and well-being of all.