Over six entries, we will share the most outstanding content presented at the celebration of the Safety in Heritage International Scientific Symposium, in both texts and audiovisual media related to the presentations and papers, the debates or the Declaration. This first publication is a general and complete review of the event, with expanded content to come in successive entries. As an appetizer, you can peruse a summary of the event through the linked video.  We hope that this content can help provide an idea of the issues discussed during the symposium for those who were not able to attend, or serve as a reminder of some important topics discussed for those who were with us over these three days.

This past 7th and 9th of May, at the Fine Arts Circle of Madrid, we celebrated the International Scientific Symposium on Safety in Heritage, carried out under the sadness and commotion of the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, a great symbol of our culture. This event reminds us, among other things, that Europeans share the construction of our identity and political community under the exceptional legacy of our Cultural Heritage.

For the organization of this symposium, KALAM has provided the necessary resources, the databases available and the ability to convoke the symposium, since the initiative began in mid-2018, even during the European year of Cultural Heritage, bringing together the most qualified experts in the world in safety in heritage, who attended the event along with 350 registered attendees, as well as special professional guests from various national and international institutions who have been involved in our various projects. Thanks to their masterful interventions, and their availability, this symposium managed to be quite a unique event, of great interest for those who wish to learn about safety in heritage, but also share knowledge about the conservation of heritage in general and the ills that afflict heritage.

The symposium began with the opening speech by Gunny Harboe, within the framework of the day devoted to heritage intervention criteria in a manner compatible with safety requirements. Harboe is an internationally recognized architect, President of the International Scientific Committee for 20th Century Cultural Heritage of ICOMOS. He dedicated his speech to various actions carried out throughout his professional career in emblematic examples such as the Unity Temple by Frank Lloyd Wright, or the Rookery and Reliance buildings, exponents of the “Chicago school” of architecture.

On the same day, we also heard from the Cannatà & Fernandes studio of Portugal and the Spanish studio, Paredes y Pedrosa, who focused their presentations on the introduction of heritage safety through some of their most recognized architectural intervention projects, such as the Arraiolos Museum for Portuguese architects, or the Villa Romana de La Olmeda in Palencia, in the case of the renowned Spanish Studio. Similarly, this last day closed with the speech from the master of light, Mario Nanni, who devoted his speech to the importance of lighting in monuments as not only a topic of architectural design, but also as an important safety measure.

We have heard distinguished views on the general purpose of the seminar, through best practices presented by the speakers, even in a meeting of this magnitude, which brought very unique and novel perspectives, such as the “data volcano” contributed by Timothy Lynch, Chief Engineer of the NYC Department of Buildings, who illustrated how new technologies and the use of Big Data can contribute to the control, monitoring and repair of New York’s building heritage.

Glenn Boornazian, Conservator of heritage and founder of Integrated Conservation Resources and Integrated Conservation Contracting (ICR & ICC), led a discussion on his experience in projects carried out in the United States on the conservation and stabilization projects in four temples in Angkor, Cambodia. A vision of safety from two different places in the world, providing special value to such training.

Another interesting topic was the delicate experience of Pedro Salmerón, renowned architect who taught valuable lessons based on his extraordinary knowledge accumulated over time during his wonderful work on the Alhambra of Granada or the Cathedral of Jaen: an approach to safety in heritage of the cultural asset and, of course, for its visitors and users.

Another highlight was the critical learning exercise led by the professor of the Superior School of Architecture of Madrid, Gabriel Ruiz Cabrero, conservative architect of the Mezquita of Cordoba since 1979, which exposed issues related to the marriage of a respectful intervention and the incorporation of safety measures for the building and for people.

Or the joint presentation from the conservator architect of the Seville Cathedral, Jaime Navarro Casas, and the architect responsible for the restoration of the facades of the La Giralda tower, Eduardo Martinez Moya, who delved into some of the recent interventions on this outstanding asset in response to its restoration and the material consolidation, as well as the needs of a monument with a large influx of visitors.

These presentations were complemented by others, such as the display of the extraordinary work of the Getty Foundation in the field of safety and emergency coordination, and from institutions such as Preservation Chicago, DOCOMOMO or Hispania Nostra, interventions from Portugal, Italy, Spain, Morocco and also warnings about looting on sites, methods for monitoring, from caring for Heritage in Iran and other data and examples of actions in Chile, among other locations discussed during this event, and broad approaches including a wide variety of methods for caring for our precious heritage including the sites, the cultural landscape, monuments and complexes and real estate and artistic collections.

The event also featured the presentations of some selected papers in an open call for scientific papers held prior to the seminar. There was a pleasant meeting of professionals who focus their work on cultural heritage, from a singular perspective, such as the architect and great expert in joinery and professor emeritus of the Madrid School of Architecture, Enrique Nuere, providing a master class on the care of historic wooden structures in the case of Madrid, or the dangers of looting in archaeological sites, discussed by Gaspar Muñoz Cosme and Cristina Vidal Lorenzo, reputed specialists in Mayan architecture; or by Ricardo Sanz Marcos, expert in safety and risk assessment in cultural heritage. There was also room for examples of highlighted best practices, such as the implementation of initiatives under the National Cultural Heritage Emergency and Risk Management Plan, led by Concha Cirujano and María Pérez, who focuses their work on the Safety Plan of the National Museum of Anthropology.

Without a doubt, this was a necessary conference, focused on the aspect of safety in cultural heritage as a guiding thread, while also celebrating the opportunity for speakers to provide knowledge on the trade of architecture through their work.

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