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Appleton Charter for the Protection and Enhancement of the Built Environment

Appleton Charter for the Protection and Enhancement of the Built Environment

Published by ICOMOS Canada under the auspices of the English-Speaking Committee, Ottawa, Canada, August 1983

A. Preamble

This charter acknowledges The International Charter for the Conservation & Restoration of Monuments & Sites (Venice, 1964), the Australia ICOMOS Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Significance (the Burra Charter of February 23, 1981), and the Charter for the Preservation of Quebec's Heritage (Declaration of Deschambault), without which it could not exist.

It further recognizes that the sound management of the built environment is an important cultural activity; and that conservation is an essential component of the management process.

B. Framework

Intervention within the built environment may occur at many levels (from preservation to redevelopment), at many scales (from individual building elements to entire sites), and will be characterized by one or more activities, ranging from maintenance to addition.

Though any given project may combine intervention scales, levels and activities, projects should be characterized by a clearly stated goal against which small scale decisions may be measured.

The appropriate level of intervention can only be chosen after careful consideration of the merits of the following:

  • cultural significance,
  • condition and integrity of the fabric,
  • contextual value,
  • appropriate use of available physical, social and economic resources.
Decisions concerning the relative importance of these factors must represent as broadly based a consensus as possible.

Legitimate consensus will involve public participation and must precede initiation of work.

The relationship between scales of intervention levels of intervention and intervention activities is summarized below.


Levels of Intervention: Maintenance Stabilization Removal Addition
Preservation x x
Period Restoration x x x x
Rehabilitation x x x x
Period Reconstruction x
Redevelopment x

Scales of intervention

Levels of Intervention: Bldg 
Bldgs Groups of 
Bldgs & 
Preservation x x x x x
Period Restoration x x x x x
Rehabilitation x x x x x
Period Reconstruction x x x x x
Redevelopment x x x x x

Levels of intervention:


  • retention of the existing form, material and integrity of site.

Period Restoration:

  • recovery of an earlier form, material and integrity of a site.


  • modification of a resource to contemporary functional standards which may involve adaptation for new use.

Period Reconstruction:

  • recreation of vanished or irreversibly deteriorated resources.


  • insertion of contemporary structures or additions sympathetic to the setting.



  • continual activity to ensure the longevity of the resource without irreversible
  • or damaging intervention.


  • a periodic activity to halt deterioration and to put the existing form and materials of a site into a state of equilibrium, with minimal change.


  • a periodic activity: modification which involves the subtraction of surfaces, layers, volumes and/or elements.


  • a periodic activity: modification which involves the introduction of new material.

C. Principles

Respect for the existing fabric is fundamental to the activities of protection and enhancement.

The process of protection and enhancement must recognize all interests and have recourse to all fields of expertise which can contribute to the study and safeguarding of a resource.

In intervening at the scales, levels and activities described, measures in support of the protection and enhancement of the built environment will involve adherence to the following principles:

Protection may involve stabilization; it must involve a continuing programme of maintenance.

Artifactual value:
Sites of the highest cultural significance are to be considered primarily as artifacts, demanding protection as fragile and complex historical monuments.

Any element of the built environment is inseparable from the history to which it bears witness, and from the setting in which it occurs. Consequently, all interventions must deal with the whole as well as with the parts.

Relocation and dismantling of an existing resource should be employed only as a last resort, if protection cannot be achieved by any other means.

The activities of removal or addition are characteristic of measures in support of enhancement of the heritage resource.

A property should be used for its originally intended purpose. If this is not feasible, every reasonable effort shall be made to provide a compatible use which requires minimal alteration. Consideration of new use should begin with respect for existing and original traditional patterns of movement and layout.

New volumes, materials and finishes may be required to satisfy new uses or requirements. They should echo contemporary ideas but respect and enhance the spirit of the original.

Environmental Control:
Systems of insulation, environmental control and other servicing should be upgraded in ways which respect the existing and traditional equilibria and do not set in motion processes of deterioration.

D. Practice

The better a resource is understood and interpreted, the better it will be protected and enhanced.

In order to properly understand and interpret a site, there must be a comprehensive investigation of all those qualities which invest a structure with significance.

This activity must precede activity at the site. Work on site must itself be documented and recorded.

Activities which involve the recovery or recreation of earlier forms must be limited to those forms which can be achieved without conjecture.

New work should be identifiable on close inspection or to the trained eye, but should not impair the aesthetic integrity or coherence of the whole.

Materials and techniques:
Materials and techniques should respect traditional practice unless modern substitutes for which a firm scientific basis exists, which have been supported by a body of experience and which provide significant advantage can be identified.

Patina forms part of the historic integrity of a resource, and its destruction should be allowed only when essential to the protection of the fabric. Falsification of patina should be avoided.

The use of reversible processes is always to be preferred to allow the widest options for future development or the correction of unforeseen problems, or where the integrity of the resource could be affected.

Structural and technological integrity must be respected and will require attention to performance as well as to appearance.