Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

World Heritage Seminar: The Increasing Complexity of the Eyes Watching over World Heritage

Information leaflet (front side)
Scene of discussion at the seminar

 Since 2018, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been hosting the World Heritage Seminar Series, which aims to transmit information and facilitate exchange of opinions about the world heritage system and its trends domestically. In FY 2023, titled as “The Increasing Complexity of the Eyes Watching over World Heritage – Operational Guidelines, Preliminary Assessments, and Impact Assessments -,” the seminar focused on the evaluation methods and system operation of world heritage, especially on the guidance of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), compiled recently by UNESCO and others. The meeting was held in-person on December 21, 2023, at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), in which 90 persons participated, mainly representatives from local governments all over the country.

 After an introductory explanation of the purpose of the seminar was provided by Mr. KANAI Ken, Head of the Resource and Systems Research Section of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, Mr. SUZUKI Chihei of the Agency for Cultural Affairs reported on the discussions held and decisions made at the latest World Heritage Committee meeting under the title of Trends on World Heritage. Then, Ms. FUTAGAMI Yoko, Head of the Cultural Properties Information Section of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, made a presentation titled Recent revisions of the Operational Guidelines and their background – To ensure dialogue and reliability –. Subsequently, Mr. SUZUKI , on behalf of Mr. NISHI Kazuhiko (Agency for Cultural Affairs) made a presentation on the contents and points to note of “Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessment in a World Heritage Context.” Finally, Mr. NAKASAWA Hiromasa (Special Historic Site – Sannai Maruyama Jomon Culture Center, Aomori Pref.) presented on the significance and assignments of HIA, based on specific case studies, with the title of “Protection and Heritage Impact Assessment of Jomon Prehistoric Sites in Northern Japan.” Thereafter, all speakers discussed the evolving value of World Heritage Sites, impact assessments made on them, and future challenges.

 Through the reports, presentations, and discussions, we reaffirmed the necessity to involve a wide range of stakeholders and incorporate relevant regulatory systems for implementing the HIA guidance. Furthermore, we learned that, in recent years, some countries have begun to regard buffer zones and their surrounding areas as areas for integrated development based on the cultural heritage values of the site, although they have traditionally been considered as a “shield” for assets. With these topics included, the Center will continue to study the international heritage protection system.

Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture II -Field Survey in European Countries-

A sample of an ACR label prepared by the Ministry of Culture for distribution (France)
Auditorium Parco della Musica, designed by Renzo Piano, considered a contemporary architectural work of "cultural properties in progress" (Italy)
Erik Christian Sørensen's own home, being preserved, renovated, and operated as a rental property (Denmark)

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) is currently undertaking a research project overseas, specifically concentrating on innovative approaches to conserving modern architectural heritage. This project is part of the “Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture,” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. After conducting a field survey in Taiwan in September, we extended our research to include field surveys in France, Italy, and Denmark from October 3 to 13.
 Over the past three decades in Europe, the recognition of modern and contemporary architecture as a valuable social asset has gained widespread acceptance. This was notably encouraged by the Council of Europe in 1991, which recommended that member countries adopt specific strategies to safeguard 20th-century architecture. Furthermore, the guideline on “architectural culture (baukultur)” for social development was emphasized during the meeting of European ministers responsible for culture at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos. Amidst these social trends, in 2017 a new law was implemented in France called the “Law on Freedom of Creation, Architecture and Heritage” (LCAP Law). This legislation incorporates the “Remarkable Contemporary Architecture” (ACR) labeling system, designed to promote the conservation and appreciation of modern architecture. In Italy, the Directorate General for Contemporary Art and Contemporary Architecture within the Ministry of Cultural Property and Cultural Activity (which is now the Directorate General for Contemporary Creativity within the Ministry of Culture) was established in 2001. Since its inception, the Directorate has consistently undertaken surveys aimed at identifying contemporary architecture with significant artistic value across the entire territory. In Denmark, while there are no specific administrative initiatives dedicated to conserving modern architectural heritage, a private philanthropic organization called “Realdania” has taken on this responsibility. Established in 2000 as an extension of a real estate financing business, Realdania is actively pursuing initiatives to safeguard Danish architectural heritage through investments. Their efforts also focus on the preservation and development of modern Nordic design masterpieces created by Danish architects.
 During this survey, we conducted visits to the French Ministry of Culture, the Italian Ministry of Culture, and Realdania, engaging in interviews to gain insights into their activities, challenges, and outlook regarding the conservation of modern architecture. The purpose was also to verify the status of the targeted modern architecture on-site. While significant efforts have been made to conserve modern architecture, it remains challenging to assert that modern architecture has fully garnered recognition and status as cultural heritage in each country. It was confirmed that these organizations are seeking new forms of conservation suitable for modern architecture through continuous dialogues with diverse stakeholders and the implementation of experimental trials of conservation and sustainable development.
 The results of this survey, along with the results from our field survey in Taiwan and a bibliographic study into the relevant legal systems in each country or region, will be consolidated into a final survey report in November 2023. This report will be open to public via the Institute’s online repository.

Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture I - A Field Survey in Taiwan

Huashan 1914 Creative Park: Shown are a historic red brick building of a former camphor factory, revitalized from ruins (registered historical buildings), and the teahouse of Dr. FUJIMORI Terunobu, a leading historian of modern Japanese architecture and an architect acknowledged for his shift from traditional techniques.
Songshan Creative Park: Creating a space for a rental artwork/performance studio that captures the ambiance of a historic tobacco manufacturing factory (municipal designated historical sites).

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation (JCICC) is currently undertaking a research project abroad that focuses on advanced initiatives in the conservation of modern architectural heritage. This project, titled “Overseas Case Study on the Protection and Transmission of Contemporary Architecture,” is commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. From September 18 to 22, we conducted a field survey in Taiwan as a part of this project.
 In Taiwan, the 2000 Act on the Promotion of Private Sector Involvement in Public Construction, and the 2002 National Development Priority Plan, which included the promotion of creative industries, led to the proactive conservation and transformation of architectural and industrial heritage with the introduction of private sector vitality from the 2000s to the 2010s. In this survey, we visited two of the “Cultural and Creative Industrial Parks” (hereafter referred to as “Creative Parks”) in Taipei City led by the Ministry of Culture (until 2011, the Cultural Development Commission) and interviewed their management bodies about the current status, challenges, and prospects for the management of heritage buildings as business facilities.
 The Huashan 1914 Creative Park utilizes the facilities of a former government-run liquor factory established in 1914, while the Songshan Creative Park makes use of facilities from a former government-run tobacco factory established in 1937. The Huashan park is managed by the Taiwan Cultural-Creative Company Limited, funded by several private companies, while the Songshan park is operated by the Taipei Cultural Foundation, umbrellaed under the City of Taipei. Despite having distinct organizational structures and operational policies, both parks are financially independent and share a common goal of enhancing public awareness of the Creative Park as a unique destination. This objective helps the parks maintain their operational stability and generate profits. However, an issue arises from the fact that only the utilization aspect of architectural conservation has been entrusted to private-sector entities, leading to various misunderstandings between their approach and the administration responsible for preservation of the architectural heritage.
 We also visited the Bureau of Cultural Heritage (BOCH) of the Ministry of Culture to conduct interviews on topics including the evaluation of the Creative Park project. The BOCH has analyzed the reasons why Creative Parks have not progressed as originally planned, as stumbling blocks have arisen such as the fact that preservation is the responsibility of the government while utilization is the domain of the private sector, and the project has already started to change course. Since 2017, a ‘Reconsolidation of Historical Time and Space’ plan has been underway, which links the comprehensive management and utilization of cultural heritage linked to the land and people’s memories to policies for developing social infrastructure.
 The JCICC will continue to conduct field surveys in Europe with the cooperation of relevant organizations and experts in the target countries and compile the results into a final research report, together with the results of bibliographic study into the relevant legal systems in each country or region.

Survey on legislation of cultural properties in the Netherlands and Germany

Interview at the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency
Field survey at the archaeological site of Hedeby in Schleswig

 Since FY 2007, Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been collecting and translating foreign laws concerning the protection of cultural properties and has so far published 27 volumes covering 16 Asian and 6 European countries. The project is intended to be Japan’s contribution to international cooperation in the field of cultural heritage protection and provide a reference for reevaluating the system used by Japan to protect its cultural properties. A field survey was conducted in the Netherlands, the target country for the current FY, and in Germany, the target for last FY. The survey was conducted from March 3 to 13, 2023.
 Recently, in the Netherlands, there has been a discussion on the need to include heritage protection in land use and environmental preservation planning. A new Environmental Planning Law, integrating the existing related laws, will come into force on January 1, 2024. This law will introduce an environmental permit system for the use of cultural heritage sites with basic provisions for municipal environmental planning and similar purposes. This legislative amendment is constructed on the foundation of various agreements of the Council of Europe, such as the Valletta Treaty of 1992 on archaeological heritage and the Florence Convention of 2000 on landscapes.
 On the other hand, in Germany, each of the 16 states have their own laws for protection of monuments. There are also slight differences in the protected objects, and only three states have regulations on cultural landscapes. Schleswig-Holstein, the northern state I visited this time, is one of them, but cultural landscapes are not yet in operation. A similar provision can be found in the Federal Nature Conservation Law. However, the German government has not signed the Florence Convention, which is a topic of great debate within the country.
 One of the objectives of the Florence Convention is to recognize landscapes that express the “form” of Europe, woven by diverse histories, cultures, and nature, as a common heritage of the EU member States, and to protect them appropriately. Certainly, landscape protection is deeply linked to global issues such as climate change and sustainability that cannot be resolved by a single country. In future research, I think it will be even more important not only to translate laws, but also to specifically clarify the organic relationship between cultural properties and the comprehensive framework that surrounds them.

World Heritage Seminar: Re-question on Landscape as Cultural Property

Information leaflet (front)
Scene of discussion at the seminar

 Since 2018, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been hosting the World Heritage Seminar, which aims to transmit information and facilitate an exchange of opinions about the world heritage system and its trends in the country. In FY 2022, redefining it as Re-question on Landscape as Cultural Property, it focused on “landscape” as a tangential point between UNESCO’s sites based on an idea of environmental and territorial preservation, and the Japanese concept of cultural property protection, which recently has been trying to upgrade the “old-style” protection (i.e., protection of a single building or site) to a wider, areal one. For the past two years (FY 2020 and 2021), due to COVID-19, we have had no choice but to conduct it online; however, this year, we held it in-person on December 26th, 2022, at the Tokyo National Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN), limiting participation to 50 persons.

 Mr. NISHI Kazuhiko (Agency for Cultural Affairs) started with a presentation on Trends on World Heritage. Thereafter, KANAI Ken (TOBUNKEN) explained the purpose of the seminar. In Part I, Ms. EDANI Hiroko (Nara National Institute for Cultural Properties) and MATSUURA Kazunosuke (TOBUNKEN) made two presentations from a research perspective titled Characteristic of Japanese Cultural Landscapes and World Heritage Sites as Landscape: Area Setting and its Basis Law, respectively. In Part II, Mr. UENO Kenji (Hirado City) and Mr. NAKATANI Yuichiro (Kanazawa City) made presentations from an administrative perspective about the Possibility of a Landscape Protection through Cooperation and Town Planning to Revive the Cultural Landscape Value in Kanazawa. Thereafter, all speakers discussed the landscape positioning within the Japanese heritage protection system.

 Through presentations and discussions, it was clarified that, while the landscape as cultural property is accepted conceptually and institutionally in a limited manner in Japan, it is widely integrated in the land use policy involving urban planning, environmental preservation, and agricultural policy, as is done in Europe. It was also pointed out that cultural property protection and urban planning in Japan have taken separate steps that drastically delay its overall protection even today. The Center will continue to research on the international heritage protection system, including the theme of “landscape,” which is a complicated problem in Japan.

Participation in Practical Workshop on Cultural Landscape 2022 and Others, Organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs

Cultural landscape of Katsushika-Shibamata
National District Liaison Council on Cultural Landscape at ex Kawajin restaurant building

 Since 2018, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been holding the World Heritage Seminar (WHS), which aims to share international trends and information about cultural heritage protection, including UNESCO’s sites, within our country. In the fiscal year 2022, the seminar entitled Re-question on Landscape as Cultural Properties will focus on areal protection, which has become increasingly important in recent years. To understand the inclination for landscape protection in Japan, I participated in Practical Workshop on Cultural Landscape 2022 and National District Liaison Council on Cultural Landscape organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs from October 27th to 29th.
 Both were held in Katsushika-Shibamata, the first district nominated as a cultural landscape situated in the metropolitan area of Japan. At the workshop, after two case-study lectures on charm publicity and tourism town planning related to cultural landscape, the participants, who were divided into groups, walked around the venue and investigated the issues of sharing cultural landscape information among the residents and visitors. They also presented solutions and discussed their ideas. At the council, after a keynote speech on the cultural landscape features of Shibamata and three case reports on the inheritance of river fish food culture, the speakers discussed the theme.
 Both administrative institutions and inhabitants and other concerned parties who participate proactively play a key role in inheriting cultural landscape significance. The training meetings focused on techniques to utilize cultural landscapes as ‟living cultural assets” rooted in daily life. Clearly, such utilization can work only if it is combined with protection system and its instruments, like two wheels of a chariot. Keeping this in mind, WHS 2022 aims to clarify the legal grounds on which foreign world heritage sites with landscape values such as cultural landscapes and historic city centers are protected. Through the seminar, we hope to look into the future of ‟landscape” protection in Japan.

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