International Scientific Committee on 20th Century Heritage 

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Madrid Document




Too many of the heritage structures and buildings of the twentieth century are at risk. They are threatened by a general lack of appreciation and recognition, and all too often they are pressured by redevelopment or unsympathetic change or simply by neglect. There is also some confusion about the basic principles of conservation that should be applied to twentieth-century sites and places.

This publication is a contribution of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Twentieth-Century Heritage (ISC20C) toward providing benchmark guidance about how to practically conserve and manage this important era of international architectural heritage.

This text was developed by ISC20C members in 2010-2011, stimulating lively debates about the content and detail of the text in the process, and drawing on pragmatic experience from all regions of the world. The final text: Approaches for the Conservation of Twentieth-Century Architectural Heritage, Madrid Document, was unanimously approved in June 2011 at an international conference, Intervention Approaches for the Twentieth-Century Architectural Heritage that was held at the Madrid Campus Internacional de Excelencia Moncloa – Cluster de Patrimonio, and with the collaboration of the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (ETSAM).

By November 2011 the document had become colloquially known as the Madrid Document, and it was presented to the 17th ICOMOS General Assembly, which resolved that the document should be distributed for international comment and discussion, including circulation to all national and scientific committees of ICOMOS, considering the full breadth of twentieth-century heritage.

During 2011-2014, the document was circulated for use and comment in English, Spanish and French. It was uploaded to the ICOMOS ISC20C website. The increasing demand for its use has now led to its translation into more than a dozen languages including Russian, Italian, Finnish, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Mandarin, Hindi, Basque and Catalan, an indication of the need for and use of such international guidelines for twentieth-century heritage sites.

The ISC20C has now carefully considered all the comments received between 2011 and 2014. These comments have reaffirmed the established value of the text in guiding the conservation of the architectural heritage of the twentieth century. The comments also demonstrate the need for a more broadly based guideline document that covers other heritage typologies of the twentieth century such as landscapes and urban areas. An illustrated version has also been suggested. ISC20C has resolved to follow up on these ideas, collaborating with the ICOMOS International Committee on Cultural Landscapes ICOMOS-IFLA (ISCCL) and the ICOMOS International Committee on Historic Towns and Villages (CIVVIH) to ensure that the full breadth of twentieth-century heritage places will be covered in the next edition. It is proposed to be presented at the 19th General Assembly of ICOMOS.

The ISC20C is grateful for the support and participation of so many of its members in the intellectual development and practical review of the Madrid Document, in particular the contributions of Vice President Fernando Espinosa de los Monteros in the organization of the 2011 Madrid conference, which supported the development of the text, and Vice President Susan Macdonald, who chaired the subcommittee responsible for circulation and review of comments and production of the 2014 edition. We encourage all who are responsible for the management and celebration of the world’s twentieth century heritage places to make use of the Madrid Document as a fundamental international guideline and we welcome all comments and feedback.


Sheridan Burke

President, ICOMOS ISC20C

Second Edition November, 2014


The Madrid Document Second Edition is now available - 2014 copyright version is available below:

Madrid Document 2014 - Second Edition

The Madrid Document is also translated into the following twelve (12) languages - 2011 copyright versions are available as noted below:

Madrid Document - English

Madrid Document - Catalan

Madrid Document - Euskara

Madrid Document - Finnish

Madrid Document - French

Madrid Document - German

Madrid Document - Hindi

Madrid Document - Italian

Madrid Document - Japanese

Madrid Document - Mandarin

Madrid Document - Portugese

Madrid Document - Spanish