Project Summary

The aim of the EU CHIC project is to set-up a system of the »Cultural Heritge Identity Card« (CHIC), which will introduce a systematic collection and storage of data on immovable heritage objects across Euroepan and neighbouring countries. The main objective is to develop and test guidelines, needed for efficent compilation of data, pertinent to each monument under observation. The system of CHIC will support sustainable maintainance, preventive conservation and rehabilitation of historic sites and monuments. It will assist application of newly developed strategies, which are designed to evaluate efficency and user-frendiness of the approach used for screening time-varying alteration of heritage buildings, caused by human interventions and environmental impacts. Partners of the project will promote and assist an introduction of the CHIC system in their countires and further facilitiate its use in the neighbourig countires through their links with governmental authorities, responsible for their cultural heritage protection and preservation.

Development of the project will be achieved through activiites of four core work packages, that will be supported by the coordinative and dissemination work packages.

The main tasks of project are:

  • To review and document current methodologies and tools for data collection and assessment
  • To develop criteria and indicatiors for risk assessment
  • To develop guidelines for the future development of methods and tools for collection and storing of data, required for evalutation of time-varying changes of heritage assets and
  • To consolodate recommendations and strategies, adjusted to the particular needs and heritage preservation strategies in different Euroepan and neighbouring countries

The consortium consists of 12 partners from 11 countries, which are Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Poland and Spain and coordinates activities at the national and international level. The Advisory Committee leads the Advisory Network, which assists the establishement and maintenance rapport with local authorities, responsible for safeguarduing of CHIC and with other stakeholders in heritage protection.

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European and Mediterranean built heritage is endangered by environmental impacts that are becoming more and more severe due to climatic changes. However, additional serious threat to heritage is simply lack of knowledge of subjects that are engaged in its safeguarding even on the basic level of relatively simple but extensive interventions in building fabrics.

The main intention of the EU CHIC project is to facilitate increase of knowledge on heritage building stock across Europe, to support development of sustainable maintenance, preservation and revitalization of historic sites and monuments through elaboration of guidelines for assessment and use of efficient and user-friendly systems for identification of parameters to characterise heritage building and their possible alterations during its entire lifetime, using the concept of Identity Card.

The concept of the Identity Card of monuments is a registration, description and classification system for data collection, including a follow up of the monument changes over time that will allow proper management, conservation and maintenance strategies.

The idea of Identity Card has been initiated within the COST Action C5: "Urban Heritage- Building Maintenance" (1996-2000). The Management Committee suggested a follow up of Action C5 through development of a European wider analytical framework of a "Building Identity Card". It concluded that there is a serious lack of reliable data on European urban heritage and a pressing need to collect it, in order to support the ongoing process of refurbishment of existing buildings. COST C5 Action concluded that there are great variations in systems of establishing and evaluating data from buildings in the European countries. Responsibility for collecting data depends on administrative structure in each country. Planning of broad activities, such as preventive strengthening or even post-earthquake measures in European earthquake prone areas, or energy preservation measures, can be better based on mutually developed methodology. Basic rules and approaches can be developed from existing European standards and codes. However, no generally accepted approach exists that would lead to European methodology. The consortium of EU CHIC moves towards this main goal that is also very important for the new member states.

The starting point of the EU CHIC project is that, in some countries, there are well established or initial models of preventive conservation, expert systems for building management and good practice experience. Some models are more broadly oriented to the collection of data on buildings, others are focused on more specific tasks, such as energy efficiency, structural resistance and decay detection.

The Identity Card concept of the project is oriented to heritage buildings and assets. It should not be considered as a single document for a particular building or group of buildings, rather this should be seen as a set of documented activities and documents developed, and applicable in EU and neighbouring countries including Mediterranean ones. Information is collected by establishing and harmonizing criteria and indicators to be addressed for tracking environmental changes of immovable cultural heritage assets, buildings and monuments, taking into account that the "natural" deterioration processes and human interventions are the essential part of problem. The project focuses on immovable heritage, as monuments, churches, museums, palaces, castles, historical sites etc., on industrial heritage and archaeological sites. Due to the complexity and the quantity of fields related to cultural heritage, limits to the project have been established. Movable, intangible and underwater heritage will not be considered as case studies in development of the EU CHIC guideline. Of course, the procedures developed during this project will be useful as a basis for further research, specifically addressed to these issues. All these items will be considered in the Strategic Planning for EU Guideline implementation.

The intention of the project is thus not further development of an existing model, but rather evaluation of successful and promising models and tools and assistance to the development of pan-European standards. We would like to enhance the existing models, cross-linking them and learn from them, in order to achieve a more integrated and general approach. Thus, established methods will be consolidated and enhanced with ideas gained in different countries and developed by existing European standards and codes. Project partners will search for existing models in their own and in neighbouring countries acting as hubs for dissemination of knowledge gained from the EU CHIC project.

The expected impact of the EU CHIC project is not only to show a significant cost benefit for cultural heritage owners and managers, by using common parameters, but also to increase level of professional education and vocational training in order to minimize harmful impact of ignorance, lack of knowledge and vandalism.