On Friday 23 November, the Architects' Council of Europe (ACE) organised in Leeuwarden, the 2018 European Capital of Culture, a conference on the Adaptive Re-Use and Transition of the Built Heritage. This event took place in the framework of the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH) and related in particular to the initiative on Heritage in Transition: Re-imagining industrial, religious and military spaces for the regeneration of urban and rural areas.

The conference aimed to bring architects and stakeholders of the heritage sector together in order to discuss the benefits of the adaptive re-use of our built heritage, good practices in the field, as well as challenges, risks and barriers inherent to adaptive re-use projects.

On this occasion, a Declaration supported by the European Federation of Fortified Sites (EFFORTS), the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH), Europa Nostra, and Future for Religious Heritage (FRH) was presented.

The Declaration recalls that the adaptive re-use of our built heritage brings multiple benefits to individuals and the society, for present and future generations. Through smart renovation and transformation, the social, environmental and economic values of heritage sites can be increased, while their cultural significance is enhanced. Such projects also contribute to the regeneration of the urban fabric and the attractiveness of areas.

Adaptive re-use projects bring about many challenges. The Declaration underlines that processes that favour and ensure flexibility with respect to regulatory framework and standards, participation of citizens, quality-based procurement, multidisciplinary teams working in a collaborative manner, financial viability and good story-telling can contribute to successful projects in the long term.

As recalled in the Davos Declaration, “cultural heritage is a crucial component of high-quality Baukultur”. The adaptation of our built heritage to the needs of our time through new high-quality architectural interventions can help to meet the challenges expressed in the Davos Declaration and achieve high-quality Baukultur in Europe. What our generation creates today is the heritage of tomorrow.

Download the Leeuwarden Declaration here