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Knowledge category: Projects

Circular models Leveraging Investments in Cultural heritage adaptive reuse

Updated on 18.11.2022

Given that cultural heritage and landscape pose challenges to its governance, CLIC aims to reduce the growing decay of cultural heritage by progressing heritage-led local sustainable development. CLIC is developing flexible, transparent, integrated and inclusive tools to manage the change of cultural landscape, which are required to leverage the potential of cultural heritage for Europe.

Acronym: CLIC
Countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, The United Kingdom
Project website:
Start and end date: 01.12.2017 - 31.08.2021
Budget: 4 957 033 EUR
Funding source: Horizon 2020

More information

The characteristics of cultural heritage and landscape pose significant challenges for its governance. Cultural heritage has long since been considered as a resource for local development strategies. But there are some contradictions. The sites recognised as cultural heritage are increasing, the costs for functional 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 will increase year by year because of lack of financial support. Cultural heritage is a non-renewable capital and it is linked to the economy because economics refers to the management of scarce and non-renewable resources; for these reasons, heritage conservation is also an economic choice.
The investment gap in cultural heritage and landscape regeneration will be addressed by CLIC through careful evaluation of all costs, of ‘complex values’ and impacts of adaptive reuse, selecting function(s) not only linked to tourism attractiveness, but also for the well-being improvement, providing critical evidence of wealth, jobs, social, cultural, environmental and economic returns on the investment.
The overarching goal of the CLIC trans-disciplinary research project is to identify evaluation tools to test, implement, validate and share innovative ‘circular’ financing, business and governance models for systemic adaptive reuse of cultural heritage and landscape, demonstrating the economic, social, environmental convenience, in terms of long lasting economic, cultural and environmental wealth. The cities/regions that the project currently operate in include Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Rijeka (Croatia), Salerno (Italy), and Västra Götaland region (Sweden).

Relevance for Circular Systemic Solutions

The project developed and proposed several outputs and summarised different types of information that can be highly relevant to local and regional authorities. For example, an important outcome is the document ‘Local Action Guide (LAP): Collaborative Approaches To Adaptive Reuse Of Cultural Heritage’, which was developed to provide a comprehensive approach to help build support for and implement circular, adaptive reuse of cultural heritage at the sub-national level. The LAP itself is a strategic document that reflects a shared vision for local heritage and proposes consensual pathways in the form of objectives and actions to meet the plan’s goals over a specific timeframe, usually three to five years. A co-created LAP can help build commitment, understanding, and awareness of adaptive reuse of cultural heritage between government and civil society, and help establish new partnerships, identify new financing models, and bring about new ways of working together towards a shared vision.
This Guide provides guidance for city leaders on how to co-create and implement a LAP as part of a five-element approach that was tested in four CLIC pilot areas. The Guide also includes a catalogue of tools and resources, inspirational initiatives, examples, and recommendations for facilitating the process at three decision-making levels:

  • city officials and policymakers at the regional level,
  • city officials and policymakers at the local level,
  • private managers and owners of unused, underused or abandoned cultural heritage sites.


Furthermore, the LAP approach is comprised of five elements (See Figure 2), each including several activities:

  • build heritage innovation partnerships,
  • harvest local knowledge,
  • create a shared vision and agree on actions,
  • formalise the process,
  • check-in and refresh.

Main results and lessons learnt

Apart from LAP, the project developed and proposed a number of useful and helpful outputs and tools that can be used at different stages of the process to achieve cultural heritage adaptive reuse. These include:

  • a database with best practices of cultural heritage adaptive reuse;
  • methodologies for impact assessment of cultural heritage adaptive reuse;
  • an EU-policy oriented publication defining a European circular city/territory model of sustainable development through adaptive reuse of cultural heritage;
  • the CLIC Framework of Circular Human-centred Adaptive Reuse of Cultural Heritage & CLIC Decision Support System;
  • circular governance models for adaptive reuse of cultural heritage;
  • an overview of hybrid financial instruments and investment leverage enablers for cultural heritage adaptive reuse;
  • circular financing models for cultural heritage adaptive reuse;

Horizon programme(s) and/or topic(s)


  • H2020-EU.3.5.: SOCIETAL CHALLENGES - Climate action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials (Main programme)
  • H2020-EU.3.5.6.: Cultural heritage


  • SC5-22-2017: Innovative financing, business and governance models for adaptive re-use of cultural heritage

Responsible organisation and contact details

Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche

Contact the project:

Project consortium partners

  • Uppsala Universitet
  • Haute Ecole Ichec - ECAM - ISFSC
  • Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
  • University Of Portsmouth Higher Education Corporation
  • Univerza V Novi Gorici
  • Wirtschaftsuniversitat Wien
  • Uniwersytet Warszawski
  • ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH (ICLEI Europasekretariat GmbH)
  • Facilitylive Opco SRL
  • Västra Götalandsregionen
  • Grad Rijeka
  • Comune Di Salerno
  • Stichting Pakhuis De Zwijger
  • Iniziativa Cube SRL
  • Technological University Dublin

Social community

Land use and spatial planning

e.g. re-use of public spaces and facilities in urban areas


Project type

Research and innovation action (RIA)

Territories involved


large 500 000-200 000, medium 200 000-50 000, and small cities 50 000-5 000


predominantly urban regions, intermediate and predominantly rural regions, refer to TERCET typology NUTS 3 region

Intra-territorial areas


e.g. commercial, residential, service, industrial

Brown field zones