Part of the Council of Europe’s Regional Programme for Cultural and Natural Heritage in South East Europe, the Integrated Rehabilitation Project Plan/Survey of the Architectural and Archaeological Heritage (IRPP/SAAH) was led by Dr John Bold from 2003-2010 and established methodologies for heritage-led rehabilitation in countries undergoing political, social and economic transition.
The establishment of this transferrable model, which became known as the Ljubljana Process in 2008, was aimed at improving heritage management practices in post-communist countries. The methodology developed by Bold introduced procedures such as the assessment of sites and of priorities for funding in the region, as well as the encouragement to view heritage in a manner that would encompass urban and rural ensembles, along with infrastructural and industrial monuments, as much as major religious monuments and archaeological sites.
The impacts achieved include:
Broad adoption by regional governments and the release of funding to enable such preservation. The project has been notably successful in gaining wide political support across the region and in encouraging an enhanced recognition of the significance of the cultural heritage, with a heightened sense of national responsibility for its protection. It has given a spur to co-operation between ministries and an impetus to cross-border and regional developments.
This national support has been fundamental in gaining the financial and procedural support of the European Union and the European Parliament. The parties involved raised over 76m euros by the end of 2010, by which time over 80% of the 186 identified sites had undergone or were undergoing rehabilitation.
Effective heritage practice in the region. The project has enabled the adoption of new methodological tools within the countries, enabling national authorities to develop structured approaches to the identification of buildings and sites at risk, with reasoned, costed proposals for their rehabilitation. It has also encouraged the development of databases based on Council of Europe documentation standards and the translation of those standards into national languages.
The IRPP/SAAH project has thus resulted in a sustainable approach to the rehabilitation of cultural heritage sites in South-East Europe. Further, the project has provided a model for a similar European Commission/Council of Europe initiative in the Caucasus/Black Sea region.
Involving communities within, and the broader social awareness of, heritage practice. Bold’s project has broadened participation in heritage rehabilitation through the communication of the benefits and responsibilities that relate to cultural heritage to a range of potential stakeholders. This has resulted in greatly-increased involvement of local communities, with significant attendance at meetings to discuss the future of individual buildings and sites, as well as participation in project boards and attendance at European heritage days.
All the major flagship projects have required the appointment of project boards drawn from local government and the local business communities, who have contributed to decision-making on the future development of sites with a view to encouraging community involvement, investment and tourism.
Dr John Bold led research that resulted in the broad adoption of an effective cultural heritage model by regional governments of South-East Europe, the release of funding from the EU to enable such preservation, and the widening participation of local communities within heritage practice.