Responding to the question of what is a heritage, it is a set of assets acquired by inheritance, by title.

According to its value there are three types of heritage: historical heritage, artistic heritage or cultural heritage.

Referring to the cultural heritage, a cultural identity would be the set of intangible features that belong to and define a collective and a cultural asset would be things such as monumental architecture, works of art, antiques, historical documents, minor popular architecture, military and defensive architecture, witnesses at work (tools), witnesses of industrial production, witnesses of agricultural culture, witnesses of the gastronomic culture, etc. But to identify a culture solely by the set of its monuments (only the great events count) is a mistake. This attitude ended in the 19th century and in the 2nd half of the 20th century the concept of cultural asset was reformulated, integrating objects with historical or artistic value, and also any expression, manifestation or significant testimony of human culture with documentary capacity.

As a result of the Second World War, many countries lost their signs of cultural identity, and there was a need for society to recover and reconstruct those signs. In industrially developed countries interest in objects and activities from hitherto neglected sectors, such as agricultural culture or hand cars ftd, began to spread.

Traditional history had focused on the great political events, military events, scientific conquests or discoveries that marked the history and therefore the monument constituted its best representation, and on the opposite new history centers its interests in man and his existence, the instruments of work, the utensils of everyday use, showing an all-encompassing dimension (which includes everything) and therefore the vestiges to be preserved.

The first use of the term “cultural asset” in an official document was in the 1954 Hague convention, convened under the patronage of Unesco to agree on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. It contemplated movable and immovable property with great importance for the culture of the peoples.

In 1972 Unesco proposed a new classification of cultural property defining monuments as architecture, sculpture, painting, archeology, caverns, inscriptions, elements of universal value from the point of view of history, art or science, defining sets as groups of constructions, whose architecture and integration with the landscape give them exceptional value from the historical, art or science point of view, and finally defining places as works of man and nature with universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological point of view.

Nowadays the Law of Patrimonio Histórico Español introduces the maximum protection and protection figure: BIC (Asset of Cultural Interest).


As we all know, preservation is a method of not losing the values of cultural identity. In order to preserve what the cultural assets of a people are, we use the catalog, in which we can all find out about them.

All the goods contained in catalogues must be protected and preserved, but not only these ones, before any action we make as architects, we must think about the value of the goods on which we will intervene before deciding the type of intervention we are going to make. Those values are: cultural value, artistic value/aesthetic value, historical value, authenticity value of antiquity, functional/social value, economic value.


As part of the society we live in, we must preserve not only the physical architectural heritage but also its values. Every aspect of a building must be taken care of: the matter, the construction techniques, the shapes and dimensions, the colours, materials and textures, the character, its use, the environment, and finally the meanings.


To preserve the heritage we can make use of some legislative instruments:

In the first place we have legal actions and administrative rules outside the intervention on the monument itself, which are exercised through standards or through the development of cataloguing tools. These rules are intended to enshrine the right of the community over the private interest. There are often different degrees of protection.

In the second place an important instrument for preventive conservation is an inventory. It is  the result of the enumeration and description of a list, made to locate and describe a set of properties. In Spain, he LPHE (Spanish Historical Heritage Act) pays great attention to inventories and catalogs.

In the third place, the list is an important instrument of indirect and preventive conservation, as a means of knowledge and valuation of assets. It is the action of cataloguing involving the enumeration, description and location of a property, but also it provides a historical study and economic valuation of Heritage Resource. This action is usually linked to general actions or protection planning.

To preserve the heritage we can make use of some interventions:

In the first place we find the preservation of the environment, in which operations are performed on the good to ensure survival against hazards or possible damages (environmental incidences, from time, etc)

Actually, actions of this type are the reason for the decrease of the flow of tourists entering the monument or the reduction of the traffic nearby to avoid emissions of polluting gases.

In the second place we find the maintenance, which is an operation designed to prolong and maintain as long as possible the materials from which the object is made. It’s objective is to preserve the building’s material, its character, its meaning, its essence, while maintaining its maximum useful life. 

Nowadays, the ideal would be to have continuous and gradual maintenance, as maintaining is one of the most recommended actions to avoid “radical” changes in an historical building.

In the third place we find the consolidation, which is a particular way of preserving. it’s possible thanks to a general strengthening (reinforcement of structure or of building fabric). The actions of maintenance provide the building with higher consistency and solidity.

In the fourth place we find the repairing, which in the case of buildings it means to fix the damaged parts such as roof, walls, eaves or gutter. This term is linked to constructive elements and their correct efficiency and to the practice of maintenance.

In the fifth place we find restoration, which is a direct intervention on the monument whose purpose is the restitution or improvement of the legibility that is lost with the passage of time, without incurring alterations of or falsifications of its documentary nature. 

In the sixth place we find the adaptation, which is the action of returning something to its old state of efficiency or functionality.

In the seventh place we find the reconstruction, which is a procedure of integral or partial reconstruction of the building, with an absolutely exceptional character that has been carried out in specific historical circumstances and as a consequence of traumatic events. It is distinguished from restoration because of the introduction of new material.

In the eighth place we find the anastylosis (musealización), which is an archaeological term or a technique where a ruined building or monument is rebuilt using original architectural elements, that is to say, it’s a set of operations to put in place building elements (generally fallen and scattered).

In the ninth place and finally, we find the riprinistar, which means returning a building to a known earlier state by removing accreditations or by reassembling existing elements. It’s an action that suggests to “go back” to the original state of a building by removing or adding later stages, and it tends to be generally rejected because the authenticity and age of the monument is usually lost.


Text and images: https://prezi.com/view/y1eeuvclGtF7SoCrm9T3/