Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 15.COM 8.C.3

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Germany, Austria, France, Norway and Switzerland have proposed Craft techniques and customary practices of cathedral workshops, or Bauhütten, in Europe, know-how, transmission, development of knowledge and innovation (no. 01558) for selection and promotion by the Committee as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention:

The workshop organization, or Bauhüttenwesen, appeared in the Middle Ages on the construction sites of European cathedrals. Now, as then, these workshops are home to various trades working in close collaboration. The term Bauhüttenwesen in German refers both to the organization of a workshop network dealing with the construction or restoration of a building and to the workshop itself, as a place of work. Since the end of the Middle Ages, these workshops have formed a supra-regional network extending beyond national borders. The workshops safeguard the traditional customs and rituals of their professions, as well as a wealth of knowledge transmitted across the generations, both orally and in writing. Faced with the progressive shortage of technical skills and in an age of increasing mechanization and cost optimization, the workshops created or re-established in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have become institutions that preserve, transmit and develop traditional techniques and know-how. Their commitment to safeguarding and promoting living heritage, through targeted awareness raising, information and communication measures and close cooperation with shareholders in the field of politics, the church, monument conservation, business and research, can be considered as an example to be adapted and implemented in other contexts worldwide. Through their organization and training system for on-site practice, the workshops could be considered as a model for all types of buildings that need to be built and maintained.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the programme responds as follows to the criteria for selection as a good safeguarding practice set out in paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:

P.1:   The proposal provides an elaborate description of the background, historical situation, rationale and objectives as well as the evolution and current situation of the Bauhütten system. The objectives of the contemporary workshops are to transmit and keep traditional craft knowledge and skills alive, and to apply and develop modern conservation methods for buildings that require constant maintenance. The submitting States Parties have described the following safeguarding measures: safeguarding the basic knowledge associated with the system; adopting innovative technologies in the provision of training and the management of work sites; the conservation and use of centuries-old documentation; the preservation of festive rituals and customs; and raising awareness about the practices involved.

P.2:   Cooperation has been a structural aspect of the workshop organization since the Middle Ages. The Bauhütten workshop practice has developed a transnational, European network. In this context, a European Association has been set up; meetings, exchanges, colloquia and educational initiatives have been organized; a system of apprenticeship/journeyman activities has been transmitted since medieval times; and a coordinated European certification of master craftspersons has been developed. This cooperation promotes the sharing of intercultural knowledge and skills.

P.3:   The workshop organization promotes dialogue and exchange through the creation of networks based on collaboration and mutual respect. Indeed, the workshop format brings together people from various trades and technical and professional areas, taking into account gender equality and promoting a sense of continuity in these communities, which is also transferred to the next generations. The workshops help maintain and renew traditional practices, promote traditional modes of transmission, and raise awareness about the relationship between tangible and intangible heritage in general.

P.4:   The programme is based on an important combination of practices of intangible cultural heritage related to traditional crafts and modern, innovative technologies. The viability of the practice is ensured by the character of the workshops, which take the form of real, living and working communities. The workshops support the ethical principles of social relationships and foster a sense of belonging, and are not just places of production. Through the elaborate system of knowledge transmission involved, the practice also respects the importance of the younger generations.

P.5:   The proposal demonstrates the involvement of the communities concerned, including men and women of all ages, social backgrounds, geographical origins, confessions and qualifications, along with employees ranging from apprentices to architects and officials. The workshops are administered by a wide range of organizations, supervisory bodies and associations. Many of the free, prior and informed consents provided were designed in a creative way.

P.6:   The workshop safeguarding system could be applied to any kind of built construction. Furthermore, the very essence of the workshop organization is centred on promoting training and transmission as well as on collaborative work. These characteristics could easily be transferred to other geographical or social contexts since the activity is not restricted by the origin, confession or nationality of the bearers. In addition, working together across all trades can be seen as a model of gender inclusiveness and equality.

P.7:   The willingness to cooperate and disseminate of all parties concerned is already embedded in the practice, which is based on networking and a structure of cooperation, and the file provides a series of examples of current practices in this regard. The file also specifies future prospects to be further elaborated, such as providing scientific and technical advice for other historical monuments, for example on architectural matters or glass processing.

P.8:   The file provides detailed information on how the following areas are evaluated: training quality; sustainable development; work coordination and a coherent organization; documentation, including the monitoring of the practices; the sustainability of the measures thanks to longer restoration cycles; the creation of a ‘living conservatory’ of festivals and rituals; and transparent management in relation to external partners. The processes involved can be evaluated thanks to reports made available to the general public.

P.9:   The workshop organization model could be adapted to various economic and geographic contexts. The establishment of a workshop does not require a large amount of resources. Additionally, the transmission and dissemination of the model of crafts as an effective tool for safeguarding artisanal practices could be replicated.

  1. Decides to select Craft techniques and customary practices of cathedral workshops, or Bauhütten, in Europe, know-how, transmission, development of knowledge and innovation as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention;

  2. Recalls the importance for the States Parties, when submitting nomination files in the future, to ensure that all nomination documents, including letters of consent, refer to the correct listing mechanism under the 2003 Convention;

  3. Commends the States Parties for proposing a programme which constitutes an exemplary demonstration of the importance of multinational cooperation in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.