ISC20C Meeting Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia, July 7, 2009
ISC20C held its 2009 annual meeting at the Sydney Opera House on 7 July in association with the excellent Australia ICOMOS Unloved Modern Conference. The conference attracted a record number of participants and international speakers. The ISC20C meeting was held in the splendid board room of the Sydney Opera House. As the guests of the Sydney Opera House Trust, the ISC20C members were given a special tour and briefing about the Opera House over lunch by the CEO, Richard Evans. The presence of ICOMOS President Gustavo Araoz was a particular highlight for ISC20C members, who were able to hear first hand of the specific issues faced by the Executive Committee and ICOMOS more broadly (pictured).
A post conference experts tour of ISC20C members led by President Gustavo Araoz to Canberra proved a popular event for Canberra ICOMOS members and colleagues through public lectures by Dinu Bumbaru and Jacqueline Hucker at the Australian War Memorial and by Maristella Casciato and Gustavo Araoz at Old Parliament House, co-ordinated in association with Godden Mackay Logan and the Donald Horne Institute of the University of Canberra.
The ISC20C president participated in the Scientific Symposium, Scientific Council and Advisory Committee meetings in Malta in October 2009, presenting for approval the updated Heritage Alerts methodology for implementation by other ICOMOS ISCs and NCs, to unanimous endorsement. ISC20C is pleased to have contributed to the ICOMOS toolkit in this way.

The 2010 ISC20C annual meeting was proposed to be organised in association with the Docomomo conference in Mexico in August, but regional VP Enrique de Anda Analis would prefer a longer time frame for preparation. We therefore plan to hold the ISC20C 2010 annual meeting in October, in association with the Dublin Advisory Committee meeting, assisted by Docmomo and ICOMOS Ireland.

Planning is also well advanced for the 2011 ISC20C annual meeting in Madrid by VP Fernando Espinosa de los Monteros preceding the General Assembly in Paris.

Scientific Work programme

The Heritage Alerts project has been refined since adoption in Quebec and piloted for use by ISC20C through 2009. At the Malta Advisory Committee meeting the methodology and template was approved unanimously and offered for use and adaptation by ICCOMOS more widely. An advocacy sub-committee chaired by Gunny Harboe, including Laura Robinson and Kyle Normandin has been formed to manage ISC20C Heritage Alerts. We also invite a representative from a previous Heritage Alert case to join the sub-committee and currently Britt Wisth (Sweden) occupies that role.
This year the ISC20C has assessed three major Heritage Alert requests. Other initial enquiries did not proceed. We also provided advice for ICOFORT to prepare a Heritage Alert on a site within its special interest area.

Stockholm City Library
An extensive and well-orchestrated media campaign for the Heritage Alert promoted the need for Swedish authorities to think again about the proposed construction of a new library which would have adversely impacted the highly significant Gunnar Asplund designed library, its annexes and setting. Swedish radio and TV interviews with the ISC20C president focussed on the reasoning about why an international body such as ICOMOS- let alone anyone in distant Australia would see this issue as being so significant across the world. The debate was lively and the engagement of ICOMOS Sweden was critical to the success of this Heritage Alert. The library expansion project has now been set aside, but when it re-commences the issues raised by ICOMOS will be once again raised.

Sanatorium Joseph Lemaire, Tombeek, Belgium
A full Heritage Alert report was prepared by the ISC20C Advocacy sub committee to urge Belgian authorities to support the active re-use of the Fernand and Maxime Brunfaut 1936/7 designed TB sanatorium which has been unused and increasingly vandalised since 1987. ISC20C joined Docomomo in this campaign, but we were not able to secure the support of the Belgian (Flanders) ICOMOS national committee and the Heritage Alert did not proceed.

Finsbury Park Health Centre, London, UK
A full Heritage Alert report was prepared by the ISC20C Advocacy sub-committee to urge British Authorities to conserve the ongoing National Health use of this Berthold Lubetkin 1938 designed polyclinic rather than dispose of it on the open property market. Despite very swift action by ISC20C, UK ICOMOS national committee was unable to respond and the Heritage Alert did not proceed.

ISC20C Heritage Alert programme requires that national committees agree with the proposed Heritage Alert campaign before action is taken. National committees are engaged and advised from the moment an enquiry is received by ISC20C. However, the practical difficulties associated raise questions about how effective the HA system can be if national responses are slow or otherwise engaged in the specific project?
ISC20C participated in the assessment of Twentieth Century nominations received by the World Monuments Fund for its World Monuments watch programme, co-ordinated by Secretary General Kyle Normandin. The committee also developed a nomination to the World Monuments Watch for the Michael Reece Hospital in Chicago.
Moscow Modernist heritage ISC20C has actively advocated its conservation via a declaration co-sponsored by the ISCC20, with Docomomo and UIA in 2006. ISC20C has supported the development of a supportive relationship with the City of Moscow to conserve this unique heritage, but we understand that the ICOMOS Executive Committee does not wish to proceed with a formal agreement with the city of Moscow. However, the future of the extraordinary house and collection of Konstantin Melnikov remains unresolved and the ISC20C continued to advocate for its active conservation through 2009.

World Heritage Related Activities

A workshop entitled World Heritage and the Places of the 20th Century was held in Sydney on 7th July 2009. The workshop is the second on this topic held by ISC20C, the first was held at the ICOMOS General Assembly in Quebec in September 2008. The meeting aimed to recap on the issues the key organizations present (ICOMOS, Docomomo, UIA, TICIH) are dealing with in supporting the conservation of twentieth-century heritage places and discuss recent activities and advice to the World Heritage Committee on 20th century heritage.
The (Un)Loved Modern Conference examined the challenges facing the conservation of 20th Century heritage. It examined approaches to conserving 20th Century heritage in the face of government and public indifference or dislike.
Topics were drawn from many fields including architecture and engineering, landscape, industrial heritage, interiors, archaeology and general topics covering Modern society and culture.

ISC20C Representative(s) at other ICOMOS or international meetings in 2009: A wide range of specialist papers and advice was presented by ISC20C office bearers and members at international meetings including:

  • Unloved Modern Australia ICOMOS conference Sydney July 2009 papers by Gunny Harboe, Pamela Jerome, Kyle Normandin and Susan Macdonald. Conference organiser: Sheridan Burke
  • Canberra post conference experts tour Dinu Bumbaru and Maristella Casciato (with ICOMOS President Gustavo Araoz) presented papers at the Australian War Memorial and Old Parliament House respectively.
  • First Pan-American 20th C National Committee meeting in Saltillo, Mexico organised by Enrique De Anda Analis
  • Expert meeting regarding the work of Alvar Aalto on Paimio Sanatorium organised by the Finland National Board of Antiquities in September 2009, paper presented by Sheridan Burke
  • Heritage Alerts project, ICOMOS Advisory Committee and Scientific Council Malta October 2009 Paper presented by Sheridan Burke

Sweden Britt Wisth has been active in inviting the members of ICOMOS Sweden to form a working group on Twentieth Century heritage to agree on a working plan, aiming to create understanding for the modern movement, particularly the architecture from the 60s and 70s, which is felt to be much in danger. We hope other members will follow this very welcome initiative at a national level.


The ISC20C is currently finalising with the WH Secretariat a position paper on Twentieth Century world heritage matters to publish on our website.

Papers from the Unloved Modern conference in Sydney in 2009 will be published by Australia ICOMOS in its journal, Historic Environment.

The conference addressed these topics under three broad themes:

  • Identify our 20th Century heritage
  • Manage the 20th Century legacy
  • Conserve the 20th Century inheritance

Keynote speakers Papers were presented in the following streams:

  • Re-engaging with Original Designers(Un)Loved Modern
  • The Single House under Threat
  • Managing 20th Century Obsolescence
  • Rethinking Colonial HeritageWar in the PacificTechnical Challenges


The Unloved Modern Conference provided registration for the ICOMOS ISC20CH meeting at the Sydney Opera House. ICOMOS Australia set up a website to handle all registerations including conference information at: http://www.aicomos.com/2009-conference/program/keynote-speakers/ , including all practical information and related tours during the meeting.

Sheridan Burke
President, ICOMOS ISC20C

click here to download ISC20CH Statutes 2008
click here to download Sydney Meeting Minutes 2009

click here to download Sydney Workshop Minutes 2009