Create a future for immaterial european assets: use a “format” as roadmap

un contributo di: Renzo Provedel

Defining the challenges

The debate about cultural intangible assets in Europe and its conservation puts into light several questions and dicotomies. Here I take the risk to propose a “solution” which deals with fundamental questions.

Let’s start from three issues which are relevant for the continuity and conservation of cultural assets:

  1. humanistic and scientific knowledges are taught and learnt separately and even subdivided in smaller fields leading to artificial classifications as in dicotomies: theory and practice, integration and specialization, knowledge and competences. They should be integrated and cooperative. We see, eveywhere, strong efforts to create a “unity” to overcome the lack of comprehension and sharing. Do we “bridge” and integrate successfully these knowledges?
  2. identity and sense of belonging of communities. They are challenged by speculative decisions which exploit the assets to generate overall profits. Do we involve and engage individuals, groups and communities to develop these assets in a valuable re-use and valorization?
  3. perception of culture as a “common good”. The “common good” means its sharing, in a public contest, by a large number of people. Do we enlarge and cure this area of “common use” or do we privatize and restrict the beneficiaries?

The challenges and the paradigms which are under discussion are more than three but these three are a fear “exercise” to prove that we need to be creative, even disruptive, to find viable solutions.


The business case, a format as road map

An interdisciplinary group of ten adult people, with differentiated knowledges and experiences, were captured by a challengin business case: to valorize historical buildings and related areas, working with owners and public administration, as customers, offering an integrated support, including discovery of the needs, diagnoses of phisical assets and generating business value. The group included entrepreneurs with hi-tech background, free professionals architects and engineers. They have been working since two years and are experimenting new tools.

The main innovation was a “roadmap” which became “a format”. This format is “a solution” to some of the challenges afore mentioned.

We conceived a format which has these strenghts:

A. it has four focuses, instead of the well known and unique “client-centered” scope:

  • the client’s need and motivations: both explicit and invisible, unknown even to him;
  • the phisical assets, to be captured in an analitical way, to enable further processing;
  • the business opportunities coming out from valorization of the assets;
  • the pertinent eco-system: stakeholder, communities, expert in different fields;

B. coaching before designing, instead of an expert exclusive design:

  • designing is a crowd-sourcing activity within and with the eco-system;
  • designing is a partecipation exercise;
  • the values come out if you coach individuals, groups and communities;

C. valorization, instead of “cost-benefit analyses”:

  • spurring the needs;
  • recognizing hidden possibilities;
  • applying sustainable solutions.


SWOT: the strenghts of the format

Let’s analyse the strenghts of the “format” against the three paradigms we mentioned at the beginning.


Unity of approach.

The format integrate, just from the beginning, a broad number of actors, we call “eco-system” or “stakeholders” or communities, which are interested to contribute to the valorization. They have different knowledge, both technical, historical: we had mentioned them as “humanistic/scientific”.

The format is the process which activate in some “unexpected ways” the energies of these parties. We can use tools as seminars, scenarios, divergence/convergence creativity exercises, visuals, photography, story telling.


Idea generation

The format provides a coaching environment which foster the internal resources of the customers and stakeholders. We can use “contest” to generate a competitive environment in order to get the best performances. No “strong powers” to influence the final results but “equal opportunities”: people are motivated if they feel this possibility to participate and “win”.


Common good

The format activates the communities of the territories, if we are working on a public asset. This approach reinforce the value, we call “common good”, because we increase the consciousness of a number of people.

The format is perceived, by involved people, as a great help, because it is transparent, it mobilize individual creativity, it is a training, which increase the consciousness.