Built environment

The spatial legacy of a shared past knows a great variation of appearances. It could be the 17th century city hall of Jakarta, the urban fabric of Galle (Sri Lanka), the old sugar plantations along the Commewijne river in Surinam, the Lefortovopark in Moscow or the Oosterspoorlijn (Eastern railroad) in the former Transvaal. All spatial scales are thus represented. The conservation of these built structures asks for an integral approach.

Integrated Conservation

A new life as a museum piece or historical artefact usually doesn’t offer a good chance of survival. For a sustainable perspective on the future, it is important that this heritage connects itself with current societal challenges. In doing so, it will not only broaden its means of existence, but will take a meaningful role in a changing society. This approach of heritage management is internationally known as Integrated Conservation.

Foto van voorzijde voormalig administratiekantoor in Westfort, Pretoria
Image: RCE
Former administration office, Westfort, Pretoria


The integral approach doesn’t restrict itself to urban challenges (red), but concerns water challenges (blue) and those of the countryside (green) as well. The Netherlands is looking for cooperation concerning the themes that are urgent within our own country: urban renewal, the transformation of the countryside, the increase of water challenges and de-population issues. In doing so, the Netherlands offers up-to-date expertise to the partner countries, while gaining new knowledge to apply in our own country. Mutual benefit is expected to lead to sustainable cooperation.

Training and advice

The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) shares its knowledge and experience on this subject with professionals in the partner countries through training and advice. We do so in close cooperation with our sister organisations in the partner countries. We aim to involve the Dutch heritage sector in this process as much as possible, as well as large international organisations. The results of this exchange of knowledge will be collected in generic knowledge products, which will be of use outside of the shared heritage field as well.


The shared heritage cooperation aims for the following goals:

  • a sustainable conservation of shared heritage
  • offering knowledge and expertise to the partner countries
  • gaining knowledge and expertise from the partner countries
  • a fruitful international cooperation within the theme of heritage and spatial planning

Examples of our projects

Revitalising Ternate

During the 17th century the tiny island of Ternate in the Moluccan archipelago was an important trading post for the VOC due to a profitable spice trade. Currently, the impressive historic inner-city is under great pressure due to over-development on the one hand, and negligence on the other. On the request of the local authorities, and in cooperation with local heritage organisations, the RCE advises on the development potentials of the historical features. In this advice, to be used as input for a development plan, it is described how history can be used to re-create a city that is attractive for living, working and passing leisure time. 
Read more on this collaboration.

Urban Heritage Strategies course

Regularly the RCE, in collaboration with the IHS, organises a multilateral training course on the social and economic potential of heritage in urban development. Participants are given the opportunity to bring in their own case study, which sometimes provides a starting point for further cooperation. The 2011 course resulted in the publication of a guide book.

Publication on public private partnerships

In 2015, the RCE conducted a study on the roles of public and private parties in the revitalisation of historic inner cities. The result is a comprehensive report, also comprising several practical examples. The aim of this study was to support and inspire heritage practitioners who want to explore public private collaboration as a strategy for the revitalisation of historic inner cities.
Download the publication.