Workshop 1: The Athens Virtual Workshop (AVW)

Workshop 1: The Athens Virtual Workshop (AVW)

“Towards a Holistic Heritage Impact Assessment Model” (25 June & 2 July 2020)

SoPHIA´s newly formed community of practice was convened for the first time at the Athens Virtual Workshop (AVW), hosted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA): around 50 professionals representing a wide range of organisations, members of the Consortium and of the Advisory Board as well as stakeholders, met for an introduction to the project and to exchange knowledge and expertise regarding the issue of impact assessment of heritage interventions. 

SoPHIA has collected and analysed the research literature, policy programmes and good (and bad) practices related to heritage impact assessment models and methods. This has led to the identification of existing gaps, issues and problems per each of the domains covered by the project, namely the cultural, social, economic and environmental. The input from AB members and stakeholders at the AVW has been crucial to feed and reflect on the findings during the first project phase, as well as to direct the coming steps towards the first draft of an holistic heritage impact assessment model. The model will be refined after being tested in selected case studies across Europe.

During the AVW SoPHIA’s background and context was presented, with also an overview of the project’s first research phase and an introduction to the concept of a social platform. The keynote speeches provided the setting to launch a discussion on the project’s theoretical approach and framework as well as to the gaps, issues and problems identified through the initial work on heritage impact assessment models. The format of the AVW allowed for debates in small groups around guiding questions on the innate weaknesses of impact assessment models, the lack of public consultation and the lack of a clear definition on cultural heritage. The results collected during the discussions served to pose further specific material to debate during the second day, thus providing valuable input for the project’s next phase.

From the links here below you can access the AVW Proceedings, including also the Workshop Agenda and the presentations, and a series of short video extracts of the workshop’s sessions.

Click here to access the WORKSHOP PROCEEDINGS



Introduction by Erminia Sciacchitano, former Policy Officer at the EU Directorate General for Education and Culture and SoPHIA´s Advisory Board member, where she shares an overview of the EU policy development on cultural heritage over the last 20 years and the current challenges and opportunities.


Welcome and Opening by Michela Marchiori, Roma Tre University and Coordinator of SoPHIA, with the background, specially focused at the uptake of the impact upon cultural interventions within the EU policies and programmes, and an introduction to the project.


The first project phase by Nicholas Anastasopoulos, National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), presenting the main outcomes produced so far and the rationale of the survey of existing research and related policies on heritage impact assessment and quality of interventions.


The social platform by Mercedes Giovinazzo, Interarts, with the explanation of the concept, as the EU research and innovation programmes have increasingly given more importance, and its relationship to SoPHIA.


Keynote speech by Annalisa Cicerchia, Roma Tre University: “Assessing the impact of Cultural Heritage: Assumptions, Choices and Questions”, providing triggering reflections that were taken up in the discussion groups. 


Keynote speech by Beatriz García, University of Liverpool and SoPHIA´s Advisory Board member: “Why do present Impact Assessment Models prove inadequate?”. It presented the research framework of Liverpool 2008, European Capital of Culture, a benchmark in impact assessment of major events, and shared her experience through the implementing period, as well as her thoughts on lessons and challenges about the holistic impact research. 


Main gaps identified in the cultural domain in relation to cultural heritage impact assessment, by EDUCULT and IADT, presented the main findings of SoPHIA during the research phase. It reflects on the considerations when researching on culture, like the critical heritage studies, discourses, cultural values or participation, and shares gaps and opportunities.


Main gaps identified in the economic domain in relation to cultural heritage impact assessment, by Roma Tre University, with the domain background and the main findings.


Main gaps identified in the social domain in relation to cultural heritage impact assessment, by IRMO, with gaps, opportunities and recommendations considering the social impact valorization, the complexity of measuring the domain and the local communities.


Main gaps identified in the environmental domain in relation to cultural heritage impact assessment, by NTUA, based on the EU directives Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and the role within them of cultural heritage, and the main findings.


First session´s outputs recap by Riva Lava, NTUA, summarizing the results of the first day´s discussions groups, led by the debate on the innate weaknesses of impact assessment models, the lack of public consultation and the lack of a clear definition on cultural heritage. The results were uptaken to further spur the discussions of the second day around questions like the term holistic being applicable to cultural heritage impact assessment or how to define a consensus definition for European cultural heritage and its contribution towards social change, among others.


Moving towards the Holistic Impact Assessment Model: an analysis of the relationship among goals, impacts and assessment, by Paola Demartini and Lucia Marchegiani, Roma Tre University, connecting the literature review undertaken by SoPHIA and the impact assessment model to be drafted, based on policy documents, academic reports and social platforms.