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UPA-BUA Union Professionnelle d'Architectes
Beroepsunie Van Architecten

ICOMOS-IFLA Charter from Florence 1982


Adopted by ICOMOS in December 1982



The ICOMOS-IFLA International Committee for Historic Gardens, meeting in Florence on 21 May 1981, decided to draw up a charter on the preservation of historic gardens which would bear  the  name  of  that  town.  The  present  Florence  Charter  was  drafted  by  the  Committee  and  registered  by  ICOMOS  on  15  December  1982  as  an  addendum  to  the  Venice  Charter  covering the specific field concerned.



Article 1. 

"A historic garden is an architectural and horticultural composition of interest to the public from the historical or artistic point of view". As such, it is to be considered as a monument. 

Article 2. 

"The historic garden is an architectural composition whose constituents are primarily vegetal and  therefore  living,  which  means  that  they  are  perishable  and  renewable." 

Thus  its  appearance reflects the perpetual balance between the cycle of the seasons, the growth and decay  of  nature  and  the  desire  of  the  artist  and  craftsman  to  keep  it  permanently  unchanged. 

Article 3. 

As a monument, the historic garden must be preserved in accordance with the spirit of the Venice Charter. However, since it is a living monument, its preservation must be governed by specific rules which are the subject of the Present charter. 

Article 4. 

The architectural composition of the historic garden includes:  •Its plan and its topography.  •Its  vegetation,  including  its  species,  proportions,  colour  schemes,  spacing  and  respective heights.  •Its structural and decorative features.  •Its water, running or still, reflecting the sky.  

Article 5. 

As  the  expression  of  the  direct  affinity  between  civilisation  and  nature,  and  as  a  place  of  enjoyment suited to meditation or repose, the garden thus acquires the cosmic significance of an idealised image of the world, a "paradise" in the etymological sense of the term, and yet a testimony to a culture, a style, an age, and often to the originality of a creative artist. 

Article 6. 

The  term  "historic  garden"  is  equally  applicable  to  small  gardens  and  to  large  parks,  whether formal or "landscape". 

Article 7. 

Whether  or  not  it  is  associated  with  a  building  in  which  case  it  is  an  inseparable  complement,  the  historic  garden  cannot  be  isolated  from  its  own  particular  environment,  whether urban or rural, artificial or natural. 

Article 8. 

A  historic  site  is  a  specific  landscape  associated  with  a  memorable  act,  as,  for  example,  a  major  historic  event;  a  well-known  myth;  an  epic  combat;  or  the  subject  of  a  famous  picture. 

Article 9. 

The preservation of historic gardens depends on their identification and listing. They require several kinds of action, namely maintenance, conservation and restoration. In certain cases, reconstruction  may  be  recommended.  The  authenticity  of  a  historic  garden  depends  as  much on the design and scale of its various parts as on its decorative features and on the choice of plant or inorganic materials adopted for each of its parts. 



Article 10. 

In  any  work  of  maintenance,  conservation,  restoration  or  reconstruction  of  a  historic  garden, or of any part of it, all its constituent features must be dealt with simultaneously. To isolate the various operations would damage the unity of the whole. 



Article 11. 

Continuous maintenance of historic gardens is of paramount importance. Since the principal material is vegetal, the preservation of the garden in an unchanged condition requires both prompt replacements when required and a long-term programme of periodic renewal (clear felling and replanting with mature specimens). 

Article 12. 

Those  species  of  trees,  shrubs,  plants  and  flowers  to  be  replaced  periodically  must  be  selected  with  regard  for  established  and  recognised  practice  in  each  botanical  and  horticultural  region,  and  with  the  aim  to  determine  the  species  initially  grown  and  to  preserve them.  

Article 13. 

The  permanent  or  movable  architectural,  sculptural  or  decorative  features  which  form  an  integral  part  of  the  historic  garden  must  be  removed  or  displaced  only  insofar  as  this  is  essential  for  their  conservation  or  restoration.  The  replacement  or  restoration  of  any  such  jeopardised  features  must  be  effected  in  accordance  with  the  principles  of  the  Venice  Charter, and the date of any complete replacement must be indicated. 

Article 14. 

The  historic  garden  must  be  preserved  in  appropriate  surroundings.  Any  alteration  to  the  physical  environment  which  will  endanger  the  ecological  equilibrium  must  be  prohibited.  These  applications  are  applicable  to  all  aspects  of  the  infrastructure,  whether  internal  or  external (drainage works, irrigation systems, roads, car parks, fences, caretaking facilities, visitors' amenities, etc.). 



Article 15. 

No  restoration  work  and,  above  all,  no  reconstruction  work  on  a  historic  garden  shall  be  undertaken  without  thorough  prior  research  to  ensure  that  such  work  is  scientifically  executed  and  which  will  involve  everything  from  excavation  to  the  assembling  of  records  relating to the garden in question and to similar gardens. Before any practical work starts, a project must be prepared on the basis of said research and must be submitted to a group of experts for joint examination and approval. 

Article 16. 

Restoration work must respect the successive stages of evolution of the garden concerned. In  principle,  no  one  period  should  be  given  precedence  over  any  other,  except  in  exceptional  cases  where  the  degree  of  damage  or  destruction  affecting  certain  parts  of  a  garden  may  be  such  that  it  is  decided  to  reconstruct  it  on  the  basis  of  the  traces  that  survive  or  of  unimpeachable  documentary  evidence.  Such  reconstruction  work  might  be  undertaken more particularly on the parts of the garden nearest to the building it contains in order to bring out their significance in the design. 

Article 17. 

Where  a  garden  has  completely  disappeared  or  there  exists  no  more  than  conjectural  evidence of its successive stages a reconstruction could not be considered a historic garden. 



Article 18. 

While any historic garden is designed to be seen and walked about in, access to it must be restricted  to  the  extent  demanded  by  its  size  and  vulnerability,  so  that  its  physical  fabric  and cultural message may be preserved. 

Article 19. 

By  reason  of  its  nature  and  purpose,  a  historic  garden  is  a  peaceful  place  conducive  to  human contacts, silence and awareness of nature. This conception of its everyday use must contrast with its role on those rare occasions when it accommodates a festivity. Thus, the conditions of such occasional use of a historic garden should be clearly defined, in order that any  such  festivity  may  itself  serve  to  enhance  the  visual  effect  of  the  garden  instead  of  
perverting or damaging it. 

Article 20. 

While  historic  gardens  may  be  suitable  for  quiet  games  as  a  daily  occurrence,  separate  areas appropriate for active and lively games and sports should also be laid out adjacent to the historic garden, so that the needs of the public may be satisfied in this respect without prejudice to the conservation of the gardens and landscapes.  Article 21.  The  work  of  maintenance  and  conservation,  the  timing  of  which  is  determined  by  season  and  brief  operations  which  serve  to  restore  the  garden's  authenticity,  must  always  take  precedence  over  the  requirements  of  public  use.  All  arrangements  for  visits  to  historic  gardens must be subjected to regulations that ensure the spirit of the place is preserved. 

Article 22. 

If  a  garden  is  walled,  its  walls  may  not  be  removed  without  prior  examination  of  all  the  possible  consequences  liable  to  lead  to  changes  in  its  atmosphere  and  to  affect  its  preservation. 



Article 23. 

It is the task of the responsible authorities to adopt, on the advice of qualified experts, the appropriate legal and administrative measures for the identification, listing and protection of historic  gardens.  The  preservation  of  such  gardens  must  be  provided  for  within  the  framework  of  land-use  plans  and  such  provision  must  be  duly  mentioned  in  documents  relating  to  regional  and  local  planning.  It  is  also  the  task  of  the  responsible  authorities  to  adopt,  with  the  advice  of  qualified  experts,  the  financial  measures  which  will  facilitate  the  maintenance,  conservation  and  restoration,  and,  where  necessary,  the  reconstruction  of  historic gardens. 

Article 24. 

The historic garden is one of the features of the patrimony whose survival, by reason of its nature,  requires  intensive,  continuous  care  by  trained  experts.  Suitable  provision  should  therefore  be  made  for  the  training  of  such  persons,  whether  historians,  architects,  landscape architects, gardeners or botanists. Care should also be taken to ensure that there is regular propagation of the plant varieties necessary for maintenance or restoration. 

Article 25. 

Interest  in  historic  gardens  should  be  stimulated  by  every  kind  of  activity  capable  of  emphasising their true value as part of the patrimony and making for improved knowledge and  appreciation  of  them:  promotion  of  scientific  research;  international  exchange  and  circulation of information; publications, including works designed for the general public; the encouragement  of  public  access  under  suitable  control  and  use  of  the  media  to  develop  awareness  of  the  need  for  due  respect  for  nature  and  the  historic  heritage.  The  most  outstanding  of  the  historic  gardens  shall  be  proposed  for  inclusion  in  the  World  Heritage  List.


The above recommendations are applicable to all the historic gardens in the world.  Additional clauses applicable to specific types of gardens may be subsequently appended to the present Charter with brief descriptions of the said types.