Efforts Of Heritage Preservation ‒ an architectural point of view

Published: 28 November, 2018

Categories: General

Efforts Of Heritage Preservation ‒ an architectural point of view

Our cultural and natural heritage is an irreplaceable source of life and inspiration. It is our legacy from the past,

what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. 

– UK National Commission for UNESCO

Since the conclusion of World War II, the effort to preserve important sites of national and cultural heritage has been a priority for hundreds of nations around the world. According to UNESCO, “Cultural heritage refers to monuments, groups of buildings and sites with historical, aesthetic, archaeological, scientific, ethnological or anthropological value. Natural heritage refers to outstanding physical, biological and geological formations, habitats of threatened species of animals and plants and areas with scientific, conservation or aesthetic value” (2014).

Preserving historic buildings is fundamental to understanding a nation's heritage. In addition, it is an environmentally responsible practice. By reusing existing buildings historic preservation is essentially a recycling program of 'historic' magnitude. Systems can be upgraded to meet modern building needs and regulations. This not only makes good economic sense, but preserves our inheritance and is an intrinsically sustainable custom and an inherent component of whole building design. Some practical and/or indefinable benefits of historic preservation include preservation of history and authenticity; increased commercial value; retention of building materials; existing usable space; rehabilitation often costs less than new construction; reuse of infrastructure and energy savings.

The preservation of cultural and national heritage becomes exceptionally important during times of turmoil or war, when many times important sites and objects are lost. Protecting the built heritage and conserving the local traditional and cultural values of communities for future generations present a real challenge for developers, architects, and professional education programs which are responsible for preparing the courses focused on heritage conservation aspects, learning respectful aware design with cultural context, and qualified graduates in planning, design, and implementation of conservation projects.

According to DiMatteo there are 5 reasons why we should care about heritage preservation:
- Architectural beauty is good for your brain.
- Historic buildings are physical links to our past.
- Historically significant buildings contribute to our cultural and economic well-being
- Heritage designations boost property values.
- Heritage preservation is more labour-intensive, which means more jobs.

There are principles for four distinct approaches to the management of historic properties namely preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction. Of concern to preservation and design professionals is the cumulative effect of seemingly inconsequential changes over time, which can greatly reduce the integrity of a historic building. Major preservation design goals include update building systems appropriately, accommodate life safety and security needs as well as provide accessibility for historic buildings.

On 1 April 2000, the National Heritage Resources Act (no 25 of 1999) came into effect. In the second chapter of this act the different categories of heritage resources are listed. Emphasis is placed on the cultural significance of heritage resources and it is stated that this significance should be established as it determines the means of conservation and preservation of such a site (2018).

Written by

Chris Meyer



DiMatteo, E. (2018). 5 reasons we should care about heritage preservation. [online] NOW Magazine.
Available at:
[Accessed 24 Nov. 2018].

Embaby EM. (2014). Heritage conservation and architectural education: “An educational methodology
for design studios”. HBRC Journal. Volume 10, Issue 3, Pages 339-350

Jenkins, Christine; Wayward, W Boyd. (2007). Introduction: Libraries in Times of War, Revolution and
Social Change. Library Trends 55 (3).

UNESCO. (2018). Preserving Cultural Heritage: A Worldwide Cooperative Effort | Global Currents.
[online] Available at:
a-worldwide-cooperative-effort/ [Accessed 27 Nov. 2018].

Van Vollenhoven AC (2018). [online] Available at:
t%20plan%20Overlooked.pdf [Accessed 27 Nov. 2018]. (2018). Historic Preservation | WBDG Whole Building Design Guide. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Nov. 2018].