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Principles for the conservation of wooden built heritage 2017


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Principles for the Preservation of Historic Timber Structures (1999)


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History of the Document on the Principles


Ever since the Wood Committee was established in 1975, the need for a set of preservation principles has been a continuous theme in the Committee’s deliberations and activities.

The history of the current document is as follows:


1. Based on the following three documents, the possible contents of the Wood Committee –“Principles” were first discussed during the Committee meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal in November 1992:


-  Bernard Feilden: A Possible Ethic for the Conservation of Timber Structures. (In: F.W.B. Charles: Conservation of Timber Buildings. London: Hutchinson. 1984; pp.238-241.)

- A. Michael Mennim: Guidelines for the Conservation of Timber Structures. (In: Association for Studies in the Conservation of Historic Buildings Transactions. Volume XIII, 1988.)

- Martin Weaver: Corrections / suggestions for the amendment of Mr. Mennim's proposal. October 1988.


2. The 1st draft of the Principles was presented and discussed at the Committee meeting and 9th international symposium in Himeji, Japan, March 1994


3. Based on the resolutions adopted by the Wood Committee during its meeting in Himeji. Japan, 11 - 12 March 1994, and comments from Wood Committee members and other experts submitted after the 1994 Wood Committee meeting, the 2nd draft (dated May 1994) was distributed to the Wood Committee members in February 1995 inviting comments.


4. Based on these comments, the 3rd draft (dated November 1995) was prepared and discussed during the Committee’s 10th international symposium in the UK in April 1996 and during the Committee meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, in October 1996.


5. In August 1996, Dr. Jukka Jokilehto of ICCROM contributed a significantly improved version for the Principles. His proposals, together with the comments from the 10th international symposium, the Sofia meeting and other proposals from the Wood Committee members, were included in the 4th draft (dated October 1996).


6. The 4th draft was distributed to the Committee members in March 1996. The final version includes the comments of the members.


Principles for the conservation of wooden built heritage 2016



Report on AGM Istambul 2016          1999-2016 Principles Comparison






A revision of the 1999 Principles, proposed in 2008, was discussed in Guadalajara, México (2012) and Himeji, Japan (2013), and was presented in Florence (2014).  It was not accepted by the Advisory Committee.


The main reasons that have led to the revision of the Principles are:


  • To recognize a wider variety of wooden heritage, including its intangible side.


  • To better recognize the diversity of cultural heritage and the subsequent diversity of approaches; thus, to better integrate with the Nara Document on Authenticity. (Japan 1994)


  • To improve its organization and applicability.


  • To update its content adapting it to present day concerns, knowledge and processes.


In order to achieve the said targets, the process was organized and conducted with an open, participative and integrative approach following instructions agreed on at the Falun AGM where a committee was appointed consisting of members from Great Britain, Canada, Sweden, Japan, Spain, Mexico, Italy and Greece1. This committee was led by the interim IIWC President Ian Mc Gillivray and coordinated by IIWC members Tina Wik and Mikel Landa.


Suggested revisions from different countries were compared and debated at the AGM in Falun, Sweden (2016).


The discussion process included:


  • The discussion in Falun, Sweden, AGM, April, 2016, which compared the 2014 Florence document and four proposals drafted by GBR/SWE, SPA, JAP and MEX.


  • Between April and August 2016, seven intense and non-stop rounds of debates were held with participation of Great Britain, Canada, Sweden, Japan, Spain, Mexico, Italy and Greece.


  • Each of the seven discussion rounds required intensive bilateral and multilateral review of objectives, specific issues, concepts or clauses and the specific meanings of English words.


  • In August, the resulting draft was sent to all National Committees and IIWC members for further contributions.  Comments were received from five National Committees and two IIWC members.


  • All these contributions were debated and approved revised or discarded in two further rounds by the committee members. All contributors were notified of the result.


  • Periodic revisions of the English language were carried out by Helen Walasek (GB), Ian McGillivray (CAN) and David Yeomans (GB) and reviewed by all participants.


We are presenting the resulting document, “Principles for the conservation of wooden built heritage” to the ADCOM meeting in Istambul 2016 seeking approval for adoption at 2017 ICOMOS General Assembly.  We anticipate there will be an oportunity to include further feedback from other Scientific Committees over the next year.


1Participants/leaders of GBR, CAN, SWE, JAP, ESP, MEX, ITA and GRE, have been: David Yeomans, Ian Mc Gillivray, Tina Wik, Yasuhiro Watanabe, Mikel Landa, María Guadalupe Zepeda Martinez, Gennaro Tampone and Eleftheria Tsakanika.

publications by members

*Listing by the IIWC is a courtesy for the members. The contents included in these books only reflect the work and criteria of the authors.


  • tampone, Gennaro (2016) Atlas of the Failures of the Timber Structures, Florence, Nardini Editore