News from the Horizon 2020 project SHELTER: Sustainable Historic Environments Holistic Reconstruction through Technological Enhancement and Community-Based Resilience

Due to the effects of climate change, during the last decades an increasing number of climate-related hazards has had impacts on Cultural Heritage, posing new challenges for conservators and heritage managers. The Horizon 2020 project SHELTER (Sustainable Historic Environments Holistic Reconstruction through Technological Enhancement and Community-Based Resilience), which was launched in June 2019, aims at developing a data-driven and community-based knowledge framework that will bring together the scientific community and Cultural Heritage managers, with the objective of increasing resilience, reducing vulnerability and promoting better and safer reconstruction in historic areas.


The first step in enhancing resilience is an improved understanding of the direct and indirect impacts on historic sites and buildings of climatic and environmental changes and natural hazards, by linking concepts commonly used in disaster risk management (DRM) and climate change adaptation with Cultural Heritage management, in order to provide inclusive and informed decision-making. Comprehensive DRM plans need to be prepared, based on the specific characteristics of Cultural Heritage and the nature of the hazards within a regional context, taking into account the diverse heritage typologies as well as the specific socio-economic conditions, which directly affect the vulnerability of such systems.


Through a deep understanding of the hazard, exposure and vulnerability of the historic area, the local dynamics, and the provision of innovative governance and community-based models, it is possible to provide useful methodologies, tools and strategies to enhance resilience and secure sustainable reconstruction.


Due to the complexity of the information and the diverse sources of data, the operational framework for SHELTER will be implemented as a multi-scale, multi-source, data-driven platform, able to provide community- and evidence-based support to local authorities, urban planners, conservation practitioners, first responders, Cultural Heritage owners and managers. This will serve to guide historic areas in transforming towards a more resilient, circular, smart and inclusive historic environment, taking advantage of the window of opportunity provided by the awareness, adaptation and preparations against hazards.


The SHELTER operational knowledge framework will include a set of tools and methods, comprising: Shelter Information Models and Databases (data lake and multi-scale data model and best / next practices observatory); Shelter Services (systemic cross-scale resilience assessment and resilience ID generation incremental strategy); Shelter Tools (data-driven platform, resilience dashboard - early warning systems; rapid damage assessment; crowd-sourcing solutions - and strategic resilience decision support system).


Such tools will leverage on diverse approaches such as: (a) A data lake for heterogeneous data (e.g. satellite imagery, sensor data, geo-environmental and social Big Data, existing building and disaster databases and crowd-sourcing). (b) A multi-scale data model to structure all information from case studies. (c) A “Best / Next Practices Observatory” that will link the portfolio of sustainable and cost-effective solutions for adaptation and reconstruction, governance schemes, co-creation processes, blueprints, and resilience financing and business models.


All of the SHELTER project’s developments will be validated in five “open labs”, representing the main climatic and environmental challenges in Europe, and different heritage types: the World Heritage Site of the Santa Croce church and archeological area in Ravenna (IT); the coastal district of Seferihisar (TR), the old town of Dordrecht and its island (NL); the Baixa Limia - Serra do Xurés natural park in Galicia (ES); and the trans-boundary Sava River Basin.


Elizabeth Nerantzis, Alpha Consult s.r.l., Italy


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CAPTION FOR FIGURE: [ Illustration of the SHELTER operational knowledge framework. © SHELTER project, 2019. ]

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