Innovative solutions for the conservation of 20th century cultural heritage

Specific Challenge

Europe’s highly diverse and rich cultural heritage (CH) is seen as a powerful common background that provides a sense of belonging amongst and between European citizens. Next to this societal impact, CH has also significant economic impact through activities such as tourism, restoration, maintenance, and cultural industry. However, tangible CH is endangered by significant deterioration of voluntary or involuntary anthropogenic origin and by other threats.

20th century cultural heritage is often confronted with different deterioration mechanisms than more ancient cultural heritage for reasons such as the use of modern materials. This requires additional research efforts regarding material composition, ageing processes, and the development of appropriate conservation technologies. While modelling and simulation based approaches in the development of advanced materials and devices play nowadays an important role, there is a need for development in the area of CH conservation.


Two main elements should be addressed:

  • Projects should develop one or more innovative solutions (functional materials or techniques) for the conservation of tangible 20th century cultural heritage. To maximise the impact, the most relevant issues and objects should be identified and addressed. For this purpose, convergent contributions from relevant Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) disciplines should be considered;
  • Developments should be based on multi-scale modelling (in the sense of linking different types of models such as electronic, atomistic, mesoscopic and continuum etc.) approaches. Key issues such as compatibility, durability, ageing, and reversibility of interventions should be addressed by the modelling approaches. Modelling modules should be further developed if necessary.

The proposed materials/techniques are expected to ensure long term protection and security of cultural heritage, taking into account environmental and human risk factors. An environmental impact assessment of the proposed solutions is to be included to ensure the development of sustainable and compatible materials and methods. Focus on innovative and long-lasting solutions in the conservation of cultural assets is expected.

Projects are encouraged to base their modelling software development on on-going efforts in the development of open simulation platforms and to use to a large extent existing models. Projects should have an element of model validation based on experimental data. The majority of resources is expected to be invested in the actual material/technology development and testing, rather than the development of new models.

Standardisation and/or the production of (certified) reference materials and/or pre-normative research should be an integral part of the project.

The projects should present clearly measurable objectives for the proposed developments. The core activities regarding the materials/techniques are expected to reach TRL 6 by the end of the project.

A participation of relevant SSH disciplines is expected. SSH research should contribute criteria for targeting specific cultural heritage and analyse the expected long-term societal spill-over effects of the project.

Projects are expected to contribute actively to on-going activities e.g. in the EMMC (European Materials Modelling Council), and EU funded clusters.

The implementation of this topic is intended to start at TRL 4 and target TRL 6.

A significant participation of SMEs with R&D capacities is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 6 and 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

  • Practical and affordable materials/technique solutions in terms of cost and/or complexity of operation by those who will use them;
  • Increased quantified efficiency of materials/technique development for CH conservation, also beyond the specific cases selected by the proposers;
  • Increased use of multi-scale modelling in the development of solutions for CH conservation;
  • Improved modelling-based decision making regarding conservation interventions;
  • Clear prospect for quantified socio-economic gains from the proposed solutions;
  • Effective market uptake of the developed solutions within five years after the end of the project;
  • Contribution to open repository of simulation and/or experimental data;
  • Contribution to increased citizens' awareness of 20th century tangible CH.

Proposals should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the Introduction to the LEIT part of this Work Programme.

Application date
Social sciences