Integrated Rehabilitation Project Plan/Survey of the Architectural and Archaeological Heritage (IRPP/SAAH)

Submitting Institution

University of Westminster

Unit of Assessment

Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Built Environment and Design: Architecture
History and Archaeology: Archaeology

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Summary of the impact

The IRPP/SAAH (also known as the Ljubljana Process) is part of the Council of Europe's Regional Programme in S.E. Europe. It was designed to establish methodologies for heritage-led rehabilitation in countries undergoing political, social and economic transition: improving heritage management practices; increasing ministerial acceptance of responsibility for the built heritage which had been lost in the new world, post-communist order; establishing a transferrable model; and fund-raising for the rehabilitation of a wide range of sites, encouraging new sustainable uses and jobs. The project has had significant financial impact, raising over 76m euros by the end of 2010, by which time over 80% of the 186 identified sites had undergone or were undergoing rehabilitation. Its methodology has been endorsed by the European Commission which as a consequence has increased its funding for heritage sites as part of its pre-accession programme. Within the participating countries the programme has been fully endorsed by ministers of culture, and has received significant further endorsement from the ministers of culture within the countries of the Caucasus which are participating in the Kyiv Initiative Regional Programme. John Bold was project leader 2003-10: this role included leading full project meetings in Strasbourg, Thessaloniki, Sarajevo (BiH), Ohrid (FYROM) and Zadar (Croatia); and numerous country-specific meetings, with ministerial, institutional and stakeholder involvement in Tirana, Sarajevo, Sofia, Zagreb, Skopje, Podgorica, Bucharest, Belgrade and Pristina. The role further required the writing of reports and guidance documents, many of which were then published on the Council of Europe website. All of these were informed by research into the individual sites (historical and architectural) and situations (proposals for rehabilitation, management and business planning).

Underpinning research

The Council of Europe's Regional Programme for Cultural and Natural Heritage in South East Europe was established in 2003 as part of its contribution to ensuring democratic stability in a region which was experiencing major political and economic changes, and in the case of the former Yugoslavia, had been recently ravaged by war. The programme received financial support from the European Commission. The beneficiary countries are Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, including Kosovo. The IRPP/SAAH is one of three components of the programme. Following the allocation of more EU funding in 2008, it became known as the Ljubljana Process. It is ongoing.

Initial research was carried out on the ground by a team of three, including the project leader, working with national authorities to investigate the heritage and its management in each country: the main characteristics of the heritage; the degree to which it was threatened; the management structures (policies, responsibilities, numbers of staff, training, strengths and weaknesses); legislation; national and international partnerships; funding; documentation; education; the relationship between heritage and planning; social aspects including ethnicity. All of the findings were published by the Council of Europe in Heritage Assessment reports, all of which were either written by, or edited by, the project leader, in association with the national representatives.

The countries were then encouraged to produce Prioritised Intervention Lists of significant sites at risk and in need of funding for rehabilitation. The assessment of relative significance and the assigning of priorities for funding were new approaches in South East Europe which required training from the project leader and colleagues. Also new was the encouragement to view the heritage more broadly, beyond the major religious monuments and archaeological sites, to include urban and rural ensembles and infrastructural and industrial monuments: notable among these was the Senje Coal Mine, Serbia, which is situated in an area of natural beauty and is now being redeveloped with local community participation as a mining heritage centre, with an hotel for visitors to both the industrial and natural landscapes, and encouraging the return of those who had lost their jobs when mining was run-down. A comparable strategy of encouraging the return of the displaced, in this case the result of ethnic conflict, underpins the reconstruction (ongoing) of the Aladza Mosque at Foca, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Guidance was provided in the compilation of the lists but fuller guidance including field trips to visit sites followed with the compilation of Preliminary Technical Assessments. The project leader and a team of international experts assessed a range of aspects of the building or site, the projects in hand or proposed for its rehabilitation, potential future uses and costs. This assessment was followed by more detailed Business Plans, again guided by the project leader and Council of Europe experts.

This process took place over the period 2003-08, during which time 186 buildings and sites were identified, providing a broad cross-section of the significant built heritage of the Balkans, identified by the national experts, following the methodology provided by the project leader and colleagues. The project methodology was published as a Council of Europe guidance book, written by the project leader, Guidance on Heritage Assessment (Strasbourg, 2005).

The further allocation of European Commission funding in 2008 enabled a greater concentration on a smaller number of 26 `flagship projects', through the `Ljubljana Process'. This continued until December 2010, when the project leader stepped down. Further Heritage Assessments and Impact Assessments were carried out in 2010, within the countries themselves by the national representatives, guided by the project leader and colleagues, with further on-site assessment by members of the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, Leuven. The introduction of the Ljubljana Process in 2008 not only provided more funding for the flagship sites but also further inspired national governments to fund the other sites on the national lists during the period 2008-10. The enthusiasm of the national governments of the countries of South-East Europe for the project was confirmed at a Conference of Ministers in Ljubljana 2009 when they strongly endorsed the project and confirmed their full backing for the investment process and the associated management and monitoring structures, including the wider involvement of local communities: this involvement of local stakeholders in the planning process and heritage-led rehabilitation represented a new approach in the region, based on best practice in western Europe.

The Ljubljana Process has continued since 2011 as the Ljubljana Process II, managed by the Regional Cooperation Council based in Sarajevo, with the aim of further institutionalising the methodology and further enabling national authorities to oversee the political sustainability of the project. The methodology devised and developed by the project leader and colleagues has been adopted in its entirety for this new phase, with the addition of some refinements in the business planning process. The methodology was also endorsed for application in their own countries through the Kyiv Initiative Regional Programme by the ministers of culture of the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) who attended the Ljubljana Conference in 2009. This project is also continuing, employing the methodology in urban rehabilitation.

References to the research

The key outputs by the project leader relating to the IRPP/SAAH project during the REF period are as follows:

John Bold, `The Built Heritage of the Balkans: A Rehabilitation Project', Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, 52, 2008, 49-63. ISSN 0951-001X.

John Bold, `Sustaining Heritage in South-East Europe: working with the Council of Europe 2003-10', The Historic Environment: Policy and Practice, 4/1, 2013, 75-86. ISSN 1756-7505.

Council of Europe (written by John Bold),
The Ljubljana Process — Funding Heritage Rehabilitation in South-East Europe, Strasbourg, 2008; and nine related books: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania,
Serbia, Strasbourg, 2009 (also available on the Council of Europe website).

Previous publications by the author relating to the IRPP/SAAH were the Council of Europe published reports on FYROM (2003), Bulgaria (2004) and Kosovo/UNMIK (2004).

In addition to advising in all of the nine countries involved in the IRPP/SAAH, over the period described, the author has had a particularly close involvement in Bulgaria (on the drafting committee for the Varna Declaration on Cultural Corridors 2005, led by President Parvanov); and in Kosovo (2001-12) on behalf of the Council of Europe on heritage management and legislation, endorsed initially by the United Nations' interim administration and then by the successive Kosovar Ministers of Culture. Work in Kosovo has included regular missions assessing heritage significance and management strategies published in 2001 as Study on the State of the cultural heritage in Kosovo: political and technical components. This has been followed by advising on strategic planning for the heritage; advising on the boundaries of the Serbian protected areas within the territory prior to the implementation of the Ahtisaari Plan for the Kosovan Status Settlement (2007-8); and most recently jointly authoring the `Institutional Capacity Building Plan — Legal Support Task Force — Kosovo' (2012) (Council of Europe AT(2012)289) which reviews heritage management and the implementation of heritage laws in detail, with recommendations (this has been welcomed by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports).

This work follows previous missions and published reports for the Council of Europe: Technical assistance for a computerised heritage documentation centre in Malta, Architectural Heritage no.23, Strasbourg 1992 (sole author).

Technical co-operation for Cyprus, Cultural Heritage no.45, Strasbourg 1995 (joint author). Core data index to historic buildings and monuments of the architectural heritage, Strasbourg 1995 (as joint author and chair of the drafting committee).

Details of the impact

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 project has provided a model for the European Commission/Council of Europe initiative in the Caucasus/Black Sea region: the Kyiv Initiative Regional Programme which covers Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan — ministers from these countries signed up to the methodology at the Conference of Ministers of Culture on Rehabilitating our Common Heritage, Ljubljana 2009, organised as part of the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. (The author had been involved in methodological discussions in both Armenia and Georgia at an earlier stage of the Kyiv Initiative before the adoption of this project methodology).


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 (Council of Europe, Guidance on Inventory and Documentation of the Cultural Heritage, Strasbourg 2001, by John Bold et al) and the translation of those standards into national languages.


The traditional approach to investment in historic buildings in South-East Europe was confined to the official responsible bodies. The initial intention of the project was to broaden the pool of expertise and then to broaden participation to involve more potential stakeholders in rehabilitation projects. As a result, there has been a greatly-increased involvement of local communities in questions of heritage-led regeneration as a result of their recognition of the benefits and responsibilities which relate to the cultural heritage. There has been 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. They have contributed to decision-making on the future development of sites with a view to encouraging community involvement, investment and tourism. The author has been involved in explaining the methodology and aims of the Ljubljana Process to stakeholders and in leading project board discussions in Kosovo, Montenegro and Romania.


There has been a significantly strengthened recognition of the economic value of the heritage as a social benefit, as an investment opportunity and as a spur to tourism. The long-term viability of the conversion of historic buildings to new sustainable uses is now better understood, together with the recognition that rehabilitation of buildings and sites offers both business and community benefits. The encouragement through the project of national, international public and private funding for sites from Ministries of Culture, the European Union and numerous national governments, institutions and private foundations has been profound. The agreement of the EU to fund the Ljubljana Process from 2008 signalled their recognition of the project achievements. Further funding was agreed by the European Parliament. The continuing support of the EU is demonstrated by their continued funding of the Ljubljana Process 2 through the Directorate for Enlargement (which is able to provide advice and funding to `pre-accession' countries which will in due course become members of the EU).

By the end of 2010, over 76 million euros had been allocated or promised (by the EU, the European Parliament, international agencies, other governments and the governments of the participating countries) by which time over 80% of the 186 sites had undergone, or were undergoing various levels of stabilisation, restoration or conversion. Most of this funding followed the boost to the project given by greater EU involvement from 2008. The methodology of the project had very consciously from the beginning included the project-specific questions which are posed by funding agencies. The author participated in meetings with both the Council of Europe Development Bank and the World Monuments Fund to enable appropriate refinement of the methodology.

Sources to corroborate the impact

The principles of the project were outlined in two Council of Europe publications on the Regional Programme for Cultural and Natural Heritage in South East Europe: General Reference Framework (CoE AT03 026) and Terms of Reference for the IRPP/SAAH (AT04 311).

The principles were endorsed by ministers of South-East European countries who signed the Ljubljana Declaration on Cultural Heritage, Ljubljana 2009.

The relationship between this project and the Faro Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (2005) was described in the Council of Europe's Heritage and Beyond, 2009.

At least 15 presentations to practitioners have been made by John Bold on the subject throughout the countries of South-East Europe as well as to wider audiences in Newark, Delaware (2004), Venice (2005), Dubrovnik (2009), Nanjing (2010) and Beijing (2011).

Corroboration is available from long-term participants in the project who have helped to refine and apply the approach in different countries [ see separate contact details]:

  • A senior member of the Commission for the Protection of National Monuments, Sarajevo;
  • An academic, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Pristina, Kosovo;
  • Chief expert in Cultural Policy Directorate, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria;
  • Director of the Republic Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments, Expert for Heritage, Macedonia;
  • Administrator, Directorate for Culture and Cultural Heritage, Council of Europe, Brussels