ARCH – Advancing Resilience of historic areas against Climate-related and other Hazards

© AlexelA/Fotolia

Overall objective

While negative impacts of climate-related and other hazards on urban areas are widely discussed, their impacts on historic areas have not been studied extensively enough. Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation for historic areas, with their unique structure, composition, and set of regulations, call for advanced technologies, models, methods, and tools, either re-used from other domains or custom-developed, as well as the promotion of relevant public policies and participatory governance processes, including residents from local communities and the general public. In addition, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), disaster risk reduction does not register as a priority area for management of World Heritage property, despite the increasing vulnerability of historic areas to hazards. Furthermore, historic areas are deeply embedded in larger urban and rural environments, providing important cultural, social, environmental, and economic functions, while relying on infrastructure services from these environments to keep functioning. Therefore, there is a need to increase awareness of climate change impacts and disaster risk reduction on historic areas. Solutions need to address issues of heritage managers and professionals with the objective of including resilience building strategies into conservation policies. These solutions should also address climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction professionals as well as politicians and the general public, to include historic areas in wider urban resilience strategies.

ARCH will take a step in that direction by providing novel, unified, collaborative approaches for disaster risk reduction of historic areas with regard to climate change-related and other hazards. The overall objective of ARCH is to develop a unified disaster risk management framework for assessing and improving the resilience of historic areas to climate change-related and other hazards, based on the Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient, the Sendai action plan, and the RAMSES Transition Handbook. This will be achieved by developing tools and methodologies that will be combined into a collaborative disaster risk management platform for local authorities and practitioners, the urban population, and (inter)national expert communities.


The ARCH consortium will adapt and improve the Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities to a unified resilience assessment framework for historic areas by identifying and addressing gaps in the original approach with regard to its applicability to historic areas.

To support decision-making at appropriate stages of the resilience buildung process the ARCH consortium will design and develop technological means of determining the current condition of tangible and intangible heritage assets, an information management system for geo-referenced properties of heritage assets, an information management system for hazard data, simulation models for what-if analysis of the effects of hazards and potential measures, an inventory of resilience enhancing measures including suitable funding models, risk-oriented vulnerability assessment methodology suitable for both policy makers and practitioners, and a pathway approach to plan the implementation of measures. These models, methods, tools, and datasets will be emebded in an overarching disaster risk management framework and integrated in a comprehensive information and data platform incorporating decision support and guidance to support the collaborative formulation of sustainable protection and reconstruction strategies by local authorities and practitioners, the urban population, and (inter)national expert communities.

To ensure social acceptance and applicability of results a co-creation process with local policy makers, practitioners, and community members will be applied. This includes the pilot cities Bratislava (Slovakia), Camerino (Italy), Hamburg (Germany), and Valencia (Spain). The results of the co-creation processes with the pilot cities will be disseminated to a broader circle of other European municipalities, practitioners and the general public via webinars, workshops, and trainings.

ARCH will ensure that resilience and reconstruction of historic areas can be progressed in a systematic way, through European standardisation, which will ensure practical applicability and reproducibility, by including a standardisation organisation (DIN) as a partner.

Expected results

The hazard and heritage asset information management system will make relevant and information in the areas of interest available to decision-makers, practitioners, researchers, and the general public, including environmental and climatic data about past historic events, information on current conditions of heritage assets, and future climate change hazards.

The impact and risk assessment methodologies and tools will guide and support practitioners in analysing and estimating impacts of past and future (combined) hazard events and assessing the vulnerabilities of historic areas based on the condition and make-up of the areas and element(s) under examination. The results of these assessments can then be used to identify critical ecosystems and natural buffers to ensure that these systems are protected and continue to help to mitigate natural hazards. In addition, the assessment results can be used as a basis for more resilient and sustainable (urban) development and civil protection plans, e.g. through pre-disaster recovery planning and post-disaster needs assessment. Lastly, the impact and risk assessment methodologies will support recovery and reconstruction practitioners to estimate impacts to and vulnerabilities of potential recovery and reconstruction measures.

The inventories of resilience options and funding opportunities will guide practitioners in identifying, prioritising, planning, maintaining, and funding measures - covering the whole disaster risk management cycle - to enhance the resilience of historic areas, including preparation, safeguarding, conservation and management, as well as response and recovery. In combination, these inventories provide incentives for local stakeholders to invest in reducing the risk their heritage assets face and help them to assign budgets to disaster risk reduction.

The ARCH disaster risk management framework and platform developed will bring the developed models, methods, tools, and datasets together into an overall management approach that supports the organisation, coordination, and understanding of resilience building and disaster risk reduction processes. The associated data and information platform will guide users through this process, will help to make information and plans readily available to the public, and connect decision-makers, local practitioners, (international) experts, and the general public in order to discuss plans and approaches with them.

In combination, the models, methods, tools, and datasets will result in a better integration of historic areas, related regulations, maintenance and conservation protocols and practices, into local / regional / national disaster risk response plans. The assessment of existing protocols and techniques will enable the ARCH consortium to make suggestions for adaptations / upgrades to existing regulations and protocols where necessary to ensure realistic, risk compliant regulations and planning principles.



  • Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS, Germany (Coordinator)
  • ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH, Germany
  • Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V., Germany
  • Fundacion Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Spain
  • Agenzia Nazionale per le Nuove Tecnologie, L’Energia e lo Sviluppo Economico Sostenibile, Italy
  • Universita Degli Studi Di Camerino, Italy
  • Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Italy
  • SOGESCA s.r.l., Italy
  • Research for Science, Art and Technology (RFSAT) Limited, Ireland
  • Mestski Ustav Ochrany Pamiatok, Slovak Republic
  • Univerzita Komenskeho V Bratislave, Slovak Republic
  • Hlavne Mesto Slovenskej Republiky Bratislava, Slovac Republic
  • Fundacion de la comunitat Valenciana para la promocion estrategica el desarrollo y la innovacion urbana, Spain
  • Comune di Camerino, Italy
  • Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg, Germany