The Vienna Memorandum (2005)

The present Memorandum refers to historic cities already inscribed or proposed for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as well as to larger cities that have World Heritage monuments and sites within their urban territories.

Preface: The Vienna Memorandum (2005) was a result of a conference held on I2th-l4th May 2005 in order to create “a key statement for an integrated approach linking.

Recalling that the Vienna Memorandum is the result of an international conference on the subject of “World Heritage and Contemporary Architecture”, which was requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 27th session (Paris, 30 June-5 July 2003, Decision 27COM 7B.108) and held from 12 to 14 May 2005 in Vienna, Austria, under the patronage of UNESCO and attended by more than 600 experts and professionals from 55 countries.

The situation:

  • Increasing impact of contemporary architecture and infrastructure on historic urban centers and areas
  • Insufficient criteria to manage impacts on the historic urban landscape
  • Contemporary architecture increasingly “indifferent” to the historic CONTEXT
  • Loss of linkage with social values and public responsibilities


  • Continuous changes in functional use, social structure, political context and economic development that manifest themselves in the form of structural interventions in the inherited historic urban landscape may be acknowledged as part of the city’s tradition, and require a vision on the city as a whole with forward-looking action on the part of decision-makers,and a dialogue with the other actors and stakeholders involved.
  • The central challenge of contemporary architecture in the historic urban landscape is to respond to development dynamics in order to facilitate socio-economic changes and growth on the one hand, while simultaneously respecting the inherited townscape and its landscape setting on the other. Living historic cities, especially World Heritage cities,require a policy of city planning and management that takes conservation as one key point for conservation. In this process, the historic city’s authenticity and integrity, which are determined by various factors, must not be compromised.
  • The future of our historic urban landscape calls for mutual understanding between policy makers, urban planners, city developers, architects, conservationists, property owners, investors and concerned citizens, working together to preserve the urban heritage while considering the modernization and development of society in a culturally and historic sensitive manner, strengthening identity and social cohesion.
  • Taking into account the emotional connection between human beings and their environment, their sense of place, it is fundamental to guarantee an urban environmental quality of living to contribute to the economic success of a city and to its social and cultural vitality.
  • A central concern of physical and functional interventions is to enhance quality of life and production efficiency by improving living, working and recreational conditions and adapting uses without compromising existing values derived from the character and significance of the historic urban fabric and form. This means not only improving technical standards, but also a rehabilitation and contemporary development of the historic environment based upon a proper inventory and assessment of its values, as well as adding high-quality cultural expressions.



The International Conference on World Heritage and Contemporary Architecture – Managing the Historic Urban Landscape, Vienna, Austria, 12-14 May.


  • The Memorandum appears to be encouraging contemporary architecture within a historic setting but does confine this by insisting that existing forms and patterns should be continued. This may be quite restraining when designing, and with this lack of freedom could result in the unwanted facadism.
  • It states that it should have minimal impact on the surrounding area which again confines design.




Intellectual Property



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