Submit worst acts to historic buildings & places

Europa Nostra has long been an advocate of high standards – in conservation, but also new design within the context of the historic environment. Change is inevitable, so managing it well is our call to action. The awards have grown into one of Europe’s most inspirational databases of best practice: when faced with almost any challenge, however sensitive the setting or condition of an historic building, someone somewhere has shown how to convert liabilities into assets. The 7 Most Endangered programme takes this further by highlighting the vulnerability of our most cherished cultural heritage sites – sometimes through neglect (the ‘sin of omission’) but worryingly more often through totally inappropriate proposals (the ‘sin of commission’). We cannot assume that people know what the ‘right’ thing to do is. Shockingly, ignorance and wilfulness among owners and developers can cause as much damage as years of inaction.

Through Europa Nostra we are familiar with the crème de la crème, but most of us will have witnessed unbelievable acts to historic buildings and places – acts that by their profanity serve by contrast to increase our respect for those schemes which we so admire. On 3 May I will be representing Europa Nostra in presenting this subject to an international audience at Somerset House in London, for which I seek your help. Though it may pain you to dwell on outrageous acts to historic buildings, please will you kindly send me your examples which I can use to illustrate just how badly things can go wrong when Europa Nostra is not there to show a better way. Ideally I would like photographs with a caption identifying the location and if possible a short explanation of what went wrong. This may require a pair of ‘before and after’ images to appreciate how profound the harm caused has been. If you prefer, links to web pages are also helpful. Please will you kindly send me your responses by 21 April to

We are very fortunate to be able to learn from the best projects in Europe because we understand why they are the best. But we can also learn from horrendous mistakes, and perhaps it is the obvious calamity of these that will impress upon the wider world how precious our cultural heritage is, and why it is so important to understand the need to adopt the right approach.

Graham Bell
Director, North of England Civic Trust
Europa Nostra Council Member

Cultural Heritage: the ultimate disaster movie!

Submit worst acts to historic buildings & places

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