Joint ICOMOS – TICCIH  – Principles for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage Sites, Structures, Areas and Landscapes

“The Dublin Principles”

Adopted by the 17th ICOMOS General Assembly on  

28 November 2011



Around the World, a great diversity of sites, structures, complexes, cities and settlements, areas, landscapes and routes bear witness to human activities of industrial extraction and production. In many places, this heritage is still in use and industrialisation is still an active process with a sense of historical continuity, while in other places it offers archaeological evidence of past activities and technologies. Besides the tangible heritage associated with industrial technology and processes, engineering, architecture and town‐planning, it includes many intangible dimensions embodied in the skills, memories and social life of workers and their communities.

The global process of industrialisation observed over the past two centuries constitutes a major stage of human history, making its heritage particularly important and critical to the Modern World. Precursors and beginnings of industrialisation can be recognized in many parts of the world well back into ancient times through active or archaeological sites, and our attention extends to any examples of such process and its heritage. However, for our purposes, these joint principles’ primary interests coincide with the common notions of the Modern Era Industrial Revolution, marked by distinctive and dedicated production, transportation and power‐generating or harnessing processes and technologies, trade and commercial interactions, and new social and cultural patterns.

The industrial heritage is highly vulnerable and often at risk, often lost for lack of awareness, documentation, recognition or protection but also because of changing economic trends, negative perceptions, environmental issues or its sheer size and complexity. Yet, by extending the life‐cycle of existing structures and their embodied energy, conservation of the built industrial heritage, can contribute to achieving the goals of sustainable development at the local, national and international levels. It touches the social as well as the physical and environmental aspects of development and should be acknowledged as such.

Over the past decades, growing research, international and interdisciplinary cooperation as well as community initiatives have greatly contributed to a better appreciation of the industrial heritage and increased collaboration between stewards, stakeholders and professionals. This progress has benefitted from the development of a corpus of international references and guidelines by ICOMOS – the International Council on Monuments and Sites, and the implementation of international recommendations and instruments such as  the World Heritage Convention adopted by UNESCO in 1972. In 2003, The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage (TICCIH) adopted its Nizhny Tagil Charter for the Industrial Heritage, a first international reference text of such recognition to guide protection and conservation in the field.

Acknowledging the particular nature of the industrial heritage and the issues and threats affecting it as a result of its relation to the contemporary economic, legal, cultural and environmental contexts, ICOMOS and TICCIH wish to expand their cooperation by adopting and promoting the dissemination and use of the following Principles to assist in the documentation, protection, conservation and appreciation of industrial heritage as part of the heritage of human societies around the World.


1 Definition: The industrial heritage consists of sites, structures, complexes, areas and landscapes as well as the related machinery, objects or documents that provide evidence of past or ongoing industrial processes of production, the extraction of raw materials, their transformation into goods, and the related energy and transport infrastructures. Industrial heritage reflects the profound connection between the cultural and natural environment, as industrial processes – whether ancient or modern – depend on natural sources of raw materials, energy and transportation networks to produce and distribute products to broader markets.  It includes both material assets – immovable and movable –, and intangible dimensions such as technical know‐how, the organisation of work and workers, and the complex social and cultural legacy that shaped the life of communities and brought major organizational changes to entire societies and the world in general.

2 Industrial heritage sites are very diversified in terms of their purpose, design and evolution over time. Many are representative of processes, technologies as well as regional or historical conditions while others constitute outstanding achievements of global influence. Others are complexes and multiple site operations or systems whose many components are interdependent, with different technologies and historical periods frequently present.  The significance and value of industrial heritage is intrinsic to the structures or sites themselves, their material fabric, components, machinery and setting, expressed in the industrial landscape, in written documentation, and also in the intangible records contained in memories, arts and customs.


I ‐ Document and understand industrial heritage structures, sites, areas and landscapes and their values

3 Researching and documenting industrial structures, sites, landscapes and the related machinery, equipment, records or intangible aspects is essential to their identification, conservation, and the appreciation of their heritage significance and value. Human skills and knowledge involved in old industrial processes are a critically important resource in conservation and must be considered in the heritage evaluation process.

4 Researching and documenting industrial heritage sites and structures must address their historical, technological and socio‐economical dimensions to provide an integrated base for conservation and management. It requires an interdisciplinary approach supported by interdisciplinary research and educational programmes to identify the significance of industrial heritage sites or structures. It should benefit from a diversity of sources of expertise and information including site surveys and recording, historical and archaeological investigation, material and landscape analysis, oral history and/or research in public, corporate or private archives. Research and preservation of documentary records, company archives, building plans, and specimens of industrial products should be encouraged. The evaluation and assessment of documents should be undertaken by an appropriate specialist in the industry to which they relate to determine their heritage significance. The participation of communities and other stakeholders is also an integral part of this exercise.  

5 Thorough knowledge of the industrial and socio‐ economic history of an area or country or their links to other parts of the world is necessary to understand the significance of industrial heritage sites or structures. Single industry context, typological or regional studies, with a comparative component, aimed at key industrial sectors or technologies are very useful in recognizing the heritage values inherent in individual structures, sites, areas or landscapes.   They should be accessible and searchable by the public, scholars as well as managers.


II ‐  Ensure effective protection and conservation of the industrial heritage structures, sites, areas and landscapes

6 Appropriate policies, legal and administrative measures need to be adopted and adequately implemented to protect and ensure the conservation of industrial heritage sites and structures, including their machinery and records. These measures have to address the close relation between the industrial heritage, industrial production and the economy, in particular with respect to rules for corporations and investments, trades or intellectual property such as patents, and standards applicable to active industrial operations.

7 Integrated inventories and lists of structures, sites, areas, landscapes their setting and associated objects, documents, drawings and archives or intangible heritage should be developed and used as part of these effective management and conservation policies and protection measures. These should benefit from a legal recognition, adequate conservation and management to ensure that their significance, integrity and authenticity are maintained. In the case of industrial heritage identified through fortuitous discovery, temporary protection should be granted to allow time necessary for proper heritage documentation and research.

8 In the case of active industrial structures or sites of heritage significance, it must be recognized that their continued use and function might carry some of their heritage significance and provide adequate conditions for their physical and economic sustainability as a living production or extraction facilities. Their specific technical characteristics and features need to be respected while implementing contemporary regulations such as building codes, environmental requirements or risk reduction strategies to address hazards of natural or human origin.

9 Protection measures should apply to buildings and their contents since completeness or functional integrity is especially important to the significance of industrial heritage structures and sites. Their heritage value may be greatly jeopardized or reduced if machinery or other significant components are removed, or if subsidiary elements which form part of a whole site are destroyed. Legal and administrative frameworks should be developed to enable authorities to respond quickly to the closure of operating industrial heritage sites and complexes to prevent removal or destruction of significant elements such as machinery, industrial objects or related records.


III ‐  Conserve and maintain the industrial heritage structures, sites, areas and landscapes

10 Appropriate original or alternative and adaptive use is the most frequent way and often the most sustainable way of ensuring the conservation of industrial heritage sites or structures. New uses should respect significant material, components and patterns of circulation and activity. Specialist skills are necessary to ensure that the heritage significance is taken into account and respected in managing the sustainable use of these industrial heritage sites and structures.

Building codes, risk mitigation requirements, environmental or industrial regulations, and other standards should be implemented in an adapted way to take heritage dimensions into account when they are enforced through physical interventions.

11 Wherever possible, physical interventions should be reversible, and respect the age value and significant traces or marks. Changes should be documented. Reverting to a previous known state may be acceptable under exceptional circumstances for educational purposes, and must be based on thorough research and documentation. Dismantling and relocating are only acceptable in extraordinary cases when the destruction of the site is required by objectively proved overwhelming economic or social needs.

12 In case of prospective redundancy, decommissioning, and / or adaptation of industrial heritage sites or structures, the processes should be recorded including, for example, where components have to be demolished and machinery has to be removed. Their material form as well as their functioning and location as part of the industrial processes should be exhaustively documented. Oral and / or written stories of people connected with work processes should also be collected.  


IV ‐ Present and communicate the heritage dimensions and values of industrial structures, sites, areas and landscapes to raise public and corporate awareness, and support training and research

13 The industrial heritage is a source of learning which needs to be communicated in its multiple dimensions. It illustrates important aspects of local, national and international history and interactions over times and cultures. It demonstrates the inventive talents related to scientific and technological developments, as well as social and artistic movements. Public and corporate awareness and understanding for the industrial heritage are important means for its successful conservation.

14 Programmes and facilities such as visits of active industrial heritage sites and the presentation of their operations as well as the stories and intangible heritage associated with their history, machinery and industrial processes, industrial or city museums and interpretation centres, exhibitions, publications, websites, regional or trans‐boundary itineraries should be developed and sustained as means to raise awareness and appreciation for the industrial heritage in the full richness of its meaning for contemporary societies. These should ideally be located at the heritage sites itself where the process of industrialisation has taken place and can be best communicated. Wherever possible, national and international institutions in the field of research and conservation of heritage should be empowered to use them as educational facilities for the general public and the professional communities.