Taskforce on “Circular models for cultural heritage adaptive reuse in cities and regions”


Cultural heritage is considered a resource for local sustainable development, although there are some contradictions/uncertainties. The sites recognized as cultural heritage are increasing; the costs for functional maintenance / reuse are growing, while public resources available are becoming scarcer, and private actors are increasingly focused on the short time for payback. 

The consequence is that there is a growing risk that the decay of heritage increases year by year, because of lack of governance coordination, funding support and viable business and management models. 

Aims of the Taskforce

The Taskforce on “Circular models for cultural heritage adaptive reuse in cities and regions” takes the cue from the Horizon 2020 project “CLIC – Circular models Leveraging Investments in Cultural heritage adaptive reuse”, sharing its overall objective and enlarging its scope to a wider community of innovators in cultural heritage.

The overarching goal of the Taskforce is to create a community of research and practice players focused on cultural heritage adaptive reuse as a strategy for the implementation of the circular economy in cities and regions, stimulating more effective dialogue and creating operational synergies between the cultural, social and environmental sectors. The Taskforce promotes exchange of knowledge, tools and approaches fostering urban circularity, increasing regeneration and stimulating equitable, inclusive economic growth and people’s wellbeing.

Participants to the Taskforce will share research results, as well as the innovative models and tools developed in many European research and innovation projects and EU/global organizations focused on cultural heritage conservation and circular economy implementation, fostering the adoption of innovative solutions by end-users and decision-makers. It will therefore contribute to the implementation of creative practices of place-based and people-based regeneration (evoked in the Pact of Amsterdam, §12.3) within the framework of the circular city model.

The Taskforce will contribute to identify innovative “circular” business and financial models to place cultural heritage adaptive reuse at the forefront for the implementation of a European model of circular economy and circular city-region centred on the adaptive reuse and regeneration of cultural and natural capital.

The Taskforce will build on the legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, that already brought together sectorial European institutions (DGs) to recognize the cross-cutting role of culture for sustainable development.

It aims to contribute to the “paradigm-shift” proposed in the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals, in New Urban Agenda (NUA), and in the political guidelines for the next European Commission 2019-2024 drafted by Ursula von der Leyen, towards the “humanization” of cities” (§ 26 of the NUA). 

This means in particular to contribute to: 

  • Regenerate the “connective infrastructure” of our city/society 
  • Regenerate community bonds, through enhancing the collective memory
  • Overcome self-oriented approaches promoting cooperative thinking and thus symbioses

the Taskforce puts together three different elements: 

  • The circular economy approach 
  • The circular city model
  • The adaptive reuse of cultural heritage 

in a triangle of reciprocal interdependence. 


is the economy that reduces entropy as in the natural bio eco/system, increases resilience and stimulates cooperation between components (it starts from the search of efficiency, but it is based and it stimulates cooperation / synergies. It is the economy of co-evolution, co-operation, co-ordination of actions for a common interest.


it is the model of city as a living complex dynamic circular system, characterized by circular metabolisms and ability to self-organize, self-manage, self-govern itself – it assumes the centrality of wellbeing of inhabitants as a value to be ensured in the long term.


it is the memory itself of the urban living system; it is the heart of the city, its identity conserved over the centuries.

The above relationships can be created through the elaboration of innovative business, financing and governance models able to put together, in a reciprocal and circular flow of benefit, the three main players:

  • The private sector, both the entrepreneurs and the owners
  • The public sector
  • The local community

Taskforce members will focus on the interdependence of these three elements for the identification of:

  • new business models
  • new financing models
  • new governance models

for implementing the adaptive reuse of cultural heritage.

Working Groups

The Taskforce identifies the following topics to be explored through the collaboration of EU projects and relevant stakeholders’ organizations. Six working groups will be organized to discuss specific innovative models and tools developed by participant organizations and to co-define an operational action plan for the Taskforce.

1. Circular Business Models in Cultural Heritage Adaptive Reuse

Actions: collect innovative studies and researches, practical case studies, Circular Business Model analysis tools (e.g. specific adapted Canvas), success stories of cultural heritage adaptive reuse which generated positive returns as well as economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts, including partnerships with local communities.

2. Circular financing models and tools

Actions: co-develop an overview of circular financing models, identifying related funders, beneficiaries, regulations and other context conditions, barriers and bottlenecks, success factors. Define impact finance for cultural heritage; identify organizations active and willing to join this specific area, draft recommendations on how to use EU financial instruments (and particularly the future InvestEU fund) to support adaptive reuse of cultural and natural heritage assets.

3. Governance models in the circular economy perspective

Actions: define public-private-social partnerships cooperation models, identify relevant actors: cities (including relevant Partnerships of the Urban Agenda for the EU: Circular Economy, Culture and Cultural Heritage), foundations, social enterprises, NGOs; collect case studies; identify necessary context conditions, success factors, barriers and bottlenecks, success stories.

4. Heritage-led innovation and entrepreneurship

Actions: define heritage-led innovation and entrepreneurship, identify leading European and global organizations supporting entrepreneurship and startups in the heritage sector, identify policy goals and recommendations to stimulate heritage-led innovation and entrepreneurship.

5. Evaluation tools in governance, business and financing

Actions: identify suitable tools to model, benchmark and evaluate the proposed governance, business and financing structures, adopting the perspective of the circular economy as a central perspective, stimulating a culture and an education of evaluation for citizens, enterprises and institutions.

6. Human-centred city development through the circular model

Actions: co-develop a strategic cultural plan for sustainable urban and regional development through the co-creation of “places” able to convey common meanings / sense, and co- responsibility, stimulating also education agencies and institutions, as well as active citizens, enterprises and local governments towards shared care for the common good.


1st meeting | Brussels, 14th November 2018

2nd meeting | Brussels, 21st November 2019

3rd meeting | Brussels, October 2020 (date TBC)