toolkits - preservation resources


This glossary is compiled by the Getty Conservation Institute.

adaptation. ‘Changing a place to suit the existing use or a proposed use’ (Article 1.9 Burra Charter, see also Burra Charter). See also rehabilitation.

agents of deterioration. Phenomena or actions that cause decay or damage to the condition and/or integrity of the physical fabric (e.g., water and air causing the rusting of steel, sunlight causing the fading of finishes, pests destroying textiles, or soil pathogens that kill plants).

attributes. The five aspects of the components and elements of a place that contribute to and demonstrate its heritage significance, either separately or in combination. These attributes are its function, form, fabric, location, and intangible values (see chapter 5, section 5.3.3 for additional discussion).

authenticity. The expression of cultural values and historical processes of a place through both its tangible attributes—such as form and design, function and use, fabric and workmanship, location and setting—and its intangible attributes, including the spirit and feeling of the place. This term recognizes that places change over time and subsequent layers of development may also contribute to significance. An understanding of authenticity should be based on cultural context and the assessment of credible information in order to form a holistic perspective.

Burra Charter. The Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance 2013 (Australia ICOMOS 2013a), commonly referred to as the Burra Charter, defines basic conservation principles and procedures. The charter and its associated series of Practice Notes (Australia ICOMOS 2013b) provide a best practice standard for managing cultural heritage places in Australia and are applicable internationally.

component. A contributory part of a major element. For example, the roof is a component of the residence. Plantings are a component of the courtyards. See also element.

conservation. ‘All the processes of looking after a place so as to retain its cultural significance’ (Article 1.4 Burra Charter).

cultural significance. The ‘aesthetic, historic, scientific, social or spiritual value for past, present or future generations. Cultural significance is embodied in the place itself, its fabric, setting, use, associations, meanings, records, and related objects. Places may have a range of values for different individuals or groups’ (Article 1.2 Burra Charter). Cultural significance may change over time and with use. Used interchangeably with ‘heritage significance’ and ‘cultural heritage significance’ or ‘value.’ Frequently shortened to ‘significance.’

cyclical maintenance. Carrying out maintenance tasks at specific, repeated intervals. Sometimes called ‘periodic maintenance.’ See also maintenance.

element. A major space or structure of the site, such as the residence, studio, courtyards, or meadow. See also component.

fabric. ‘All the physical material of the place including elements, fixtures, contents and objects’ (Article 1.3 Burra Charter). Fabric ‘includes building interiors and subsurface remains as well as excavated material and the natural elements of a place’ (Australia ICOMOS 2013a, 2).

heritage significance. See cultural significance.

intact(ness). The degree to which the original fabric and form of the place survive.

integrity. The ‘measure of the wholeness and intactness’ of the place and its attributes (UNESCO World Heritage Committee 2016, article IIE.88). In the United States, ‘authenticity’ and ‘integrity’ are often used interchangeably. The National Park Service defines historic integrity as ‘the authenticity of a property's historic identity, evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics that existed during the property's historic or prehistoric period,’ such as its location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association (US National Park Service 1983a).

interpretation. ‘All the ways of presenting the cultural significance of a place’ to enhance appreciation (Article 1.17 Burra Charter). Interpretation may include a combination of actions related to the treatment of the fabric (e.g., conservation, maintenance, restoration, reconstruction), the use of the site, or events and activities held there. It also includes the use of introduced explanatory material, using a variety of media. Interpretation is an essential conservation action.

intervention. Activities and works with a physical impact, including opening up of fabric to investigate and assess condition, and taking samples and measures (temporary or permanent) to protect fabric/components from deterioration. Intervention includes works to conserve, restore, reconstruct, adapt, and/or repair fabric.

maintenance. The ‘continuous protective care of a place and its setting. Maintenance is to be distinguished from repair which involves restoration or reconstruction’ (Article 1.5 Burra Charter). See also preventive maintenance and cyclical maintenance.

place. A ‘geographically defined area. It may include elements, objects, spaces, and views. Place may have tangible and intangible dimensions’ (Article 1.1 Burra Charter). It has ‘a broad scope,’ may include ‘natural and cultural features’ (Australia ICOMOS 2013a, 2), and may have a ‘range of values for different individuals or groups’ (Article 1.2 Burra Charter). In the case of the Eames House, ‘place’ refers to the whole of the physical site area, along with its built features and landscape and its contents and collections (see figs. 1.2–1.4 in this volume).

presentation. The ways in which interpretive content about a place is communicated; for instance, through tours, informational panels, brochures, and websites.

preservation. This term is used in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards, which define preservation as ‘the act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of a historic property…the limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a preservation project’ (US Department of the Interior, US National Park Service, Technical Preservation Services 2017, 17). This is a broader definition than that in the Burra Charter (Article 1.6 Burra Charter), which defines it as ‘maintaining a place in its existing state and retarding deterioration.’

preventive maintenance. Maintenance practices directed toward removing agents of deterioration before they affect fabric.

reconstruction. ‘Returning a place to a known earlier state.’ This is ‘distinguished from restoration by the introduction of new material’ (Article 1.6 Burra Charter). In the United States, the Secretary of the Interior defines reconstruction as ‘the act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location’ (US Department of the Interior, US National Park Service, Technical Preservation Services 2017, 165).

rehabilitation. ‘The act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values’ (US Department of the Interior, US National Park Service, Technical Preservation Services 2017, 60). See also adaptation.

restoration. The process of ‘returning a place to a known earlier state by removing accretions or reassembling existing elements without the introduction of new material’ (Article 1.8 Burra Charter). In the United States, the Secretary of the Interior defines restoration as ‘the act or process of accurately depicting the form, features and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history, and the reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period’ (US Department of the Interior, US National Park Service, Technical Preservation Services 2017, 117).

reversible. Having the potential to remove or reverse works without damaging or altering significant features or fabric when applied to new development and/or work to existing areas and components. Reversible development should be designed with appropriate structural support, fixings, connections, and materials to be essentially independent of existing fabric/components, in order to allow complete removal without adverse impacts.

Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring and Reconstructing Historic Buildings. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, or the Standards, are fundamental historic preservation principles that promote best practices. They are the nationally recognized tool that guides preservation in the United States. Within the Standards, four different approaches to the treatment of historic properties are defined: preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction.

significance. See cultural significance.

site. ‘Site’ is used in a broader fashion to refer to the whole of the physical site area, along with its built features and landscape, as well as the contents and collections. In this context, ‘site’ is used interchangeably with ‘place.’

values. Qualities or characteristics ascribed to a place. Five heritage values—aesthetic, historic, scientific, social, and spiritual—are identified in Article 1.2, Burra Charter.