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UPA-BUA Union Professionnelle d'Architectes
Beroepsunie Van Architecten

CEU Conclusions on high-quality architecture 2021

Council conclusions on culture, high-quality architecture and built environment as key elements of the New European Bauhaus initiative

(2021/C 501 I/03)


Acknowledging the steps already taken by the European Union and its Member States to enhance the important role of culture, high-quality architecture and built environment on the political agenda and to ensure the legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, as well as its lasting impact for our societies and future generations,

Recalling the main political references as set out in the Annex to these conclusions,

Building on the Work Plan for Culture 2019 – 2022, in particular on its on Priority B (‘Cohesion and well-being’), and the actions on the topic ‘high-quality architecture and built environment for everyone’,

WELCOMES the New European Bauhaus (NEB) initiative, and in this context


1. Architecture and the built environment are embodiments of past and present culture, ways of living and values. They establish the stock for our cultural heritage of the future and contribute to shaping our societies and identities.

2. The built environment (1) is a reflection of a community, and the responsibility for its overall quality rests in the hands of the relevant public sector bodies and other stakeholders, working in close cooperation with all citizens.

3. It is important to ensure that both the development of existing building stock – through restoration, renovation, adapted re-use and conservation – and the creation of new buildings and spaces are of high quality.

4. Architects, inter alia, play a central role in all phases of the development of high-quality architecture and living environment, and can therefore contribute in a significant manner to the public interest by taking into account territorial diversity and the needs of civil society.

5. Culture, high-quality architecture (2) and built environment contribute to the achievement of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) (3) in many ways. They can contribute to the implementation of the European Green Deal (4) and its aim to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

6. The NEB is a transdisciplinary initiative combining three inter-linked dimensions: aesthetics, sustainability and inclusion. It relies on a participatory approach and aims to involve all people across the Union, including those from disadvantaged groups, in line with the UN 2030 Agenda and the European Green Deal’s objective of leaving no one behind.

7. The NEB initiative draws inspiration from the original Bauhaus (5), which already had a holistic, sustainable, high quality and inclusive approach to design, architecture and art in mind.

8. While respecting Europe’s diverse cultural heritage, the NEB initiative aims to create an enabling context to transform the living environment and make our way of life more beautiful, sustainable and inclusive, inter alia through innovation and high-quality architecture (6), design, urbanism, and many other artistic and creative areas.

9. Europe’s cultural and architectural heritage constitutes an important benchmark for the experiential and physical quality of our built environment. It is also a strong asset that can inspire and nourish social cohesion, innovation, transformation and regeneration. The NEB initiative therefore acknowledges the importance of our architectural and archaeological heritage, landscapes, and tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

10. The multi-dimensional nature of high-quality architecture and built environment requires cross-sectoral cooperation, participation, co-creation and transdisciplinary approaches, particularly in terms of sustainability and policy coherence.

11. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a funding mobilisation at all governance levels, inter alia for high-quality architecture and built environment. These financial resources should be used in a sustainable and quality-oriented manner, in line with the principles of the Davos Baukultur Quality Tool (DBQT) the recommendations of the OMC expert group (7) and the ICOMOS revised Quality Principles for EU-funded interventions with potential impact on cultural heritage (8).


12. Reaffirm the role of culture and cultural heritage as intrinsic to and inseparable from the built and living environment, and as an important contribution to sustainable development, including the circular economy, social and territorial cohesion, the environment, the biodiversity and climate targets, prosperity and the well-being of all people in Europe.

13. Facilitate appropriate synergies between the NEB initiative and other processes engaging people in Europe, such as the Conference on the Future of Europe (9), as well as with other strategies and action plans that promote architectural and aesthetic quality, such as the Renovation Wave (10), and accessibility, such as the Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030 (11).

14. Contribute to creating a holistic understanding and shared culture of high-quality architecture by further raising awareness, e.g. through formal, non-formal and informal education from an early age on, and by widely promoting and disseminating information about the NEB initiative and the role of culture, high-quality architecture and built environment therein.

15. Work towards a holistic, inclusive, transdisciplinary, high-quality-led and long-term vision for architecture and the built environment by integrating different policies and expert knowledge in all processes, guidelines and co-creation projects shaping our living environment, including the report of the OMC expert group (12).

16. Take into account a quality-driven approach that includes the quality principles mapped out in the DBQT (13) as the basis for informed choices and decisions throughout the entire lifecycles of built structures and landscape planning and management (conception, investment plans, funding mechanisms, support measures, planning processes, maintenance, refurbishment, conservation, adaptive re-use, demolition and recycling).

17. Stimulate sustainable growth, liveability and innovation in European urban and rural areas by applying holistic, high-quality criteria, co-creation methods and the ICOMOS principles for the provision of EU financial support to architectural and built-environment projects, where appropriate.

18. Promote the optimisation of energy efficiency of the existing building stock through a holistic approach, while respecting all DBQT criteria, including the preservation of built heritage.

19. Explore solutions to enable access to affordable and decent housing, in particular for young people entering the labour market, as well as for other vulnerable social groups.

20. Include the participatory co-creation principles by involving all relevant stakeholders in processes such as decision-making, planning, design and construction concerning the built and living environment and spatial planning at all relevant governance levels.

21. Promote an approach that respects dialogue between the existing cultural heritage, landscape setting and contemporary creation, including through adaptive re-use where relevant.

22. Create favourable frameworks for high-quality architecture to underpin public procurement rules, regulatory simplification and innovative procedures that foster a high-quality-based approach over a solely cost-based one by following the best practices for conducting public architecture, landscape architecture and spatial planning competitions.

23. Further promote and strengthen the awareness, knowledge and competences of decision-makers and dedicated teams at all relevant governance levels, including technical experts and contractors, in order to enable them to use high-quality criteria and standards in their decisions related to architecture and the built environment for everyone.

24. Promote the best use of relevant EU funding programmes and other available financing tools in order to:

— apply and increase high-quality standards in planning, design, building, conservation, restoration, renovation and adaptive re-use processes;

— further improve the training and skills of architects and related professionals such as civil engineers, landscape architects, spatial planners, designers, artists, heritage experts, conservators-restorers, nature conservators, building contractors etc. not only as specialists in individual professions, but also as educators and researchers with an understanding of the broad challenges at stake, in the context of the integration of sustainability, quality of experience and social inclusion.

25. Keep the momentum and continue the process of reflection and exchange on the cultural, social, economic and ecological roles of high-quality architecture and built environment.


26. Enhance policy coherence for high-quality architecture and built environment through appropriate coordination among all relevant ministries and administration levels, agencies and services in order to embed a quality-based and holistic approach in all policies and activities that have an impact on the built and living environment.

27. Promote the mainstreaming of the NEB and the circular economy principles and approaches in the national socio-economic and territorial development strategies, including sustainable design and architecture.

28. Set up and support, at the appropriate governance levels, advisory expert groups composed of architects and other relevant professionals, such as the State and City Architect Teams (14), as well as quality-driven procedures to ensure or strengthen the inclusion of required professional competences and skills in decision-making processes in order to achieve high-quality outcomes.

29. Nominate an entity as a contact point for the NEB initiative and reach out to communities at local level, following a place-based approach (15), in order to involve, as appropriate, all civil society members and relevant stakeholders.

30. Empower and provide appropriate support to actors who promote the cultural and qualitative aspects of the built and living environment to all audiences.


31. Facilitate the uptake of the DBQT, with its eight quality criteria, in relevant investments, regulatory frameworks and EU funding programmes, and apply these quality principles as owner, developer and property user.

32. Provide opportunities for research, capacity building and peer learning in the areas of culture, high-quality architecture and built environment for everyone in all relevant EU programmes.

33. Seek synergies among relevant existing and planned EU regulations, programmes and policies with a view to making the green and digital transitions consistent with the NEB principles and objectives, and mainstream cross-disciplinary cooperation and decision-making.

34. Facilitate information and access to available financial instruments to support projects related to high-quality living environment, including small-scale initiatives on the ground and projects in cultural and creative sectors.

35. Take into account geographic balance, as well as the geographic, climate, economic, social and cultural diversity of the EU, when designing and implementing NEB strategies, projects and actions.

36. Promote synergies between art, architecture, landscape and interior architecture, spatial planning, design and craftsmanship, as well as innovative training models for architects and other related professionals, including training on cutting-edge digital technology.

37. Promote the function of historic sites in enhancing the existing and emerging physical environment of local communities with the use of state-of the art digital technologies in documenting and presenting the built and living environment.

38. Strengthen cross-sectoral awareness and cooperation by promoting the NEB initiative, the Davos Declaration and the ICOMOS Principles among relevant policy sectors, particularly those sectors involved in shaping the built and living environment.

39. Report on a regular basis to the Council and/or its preparatory bodies, as well as to the entities entrusted as contact points for the NEB, on the implementation progress of the NEB initiative, and facilitate the exchange of best practices among the Member States on its follow-up at national level.