Politecnico di Milano in Vietnam to conserve cultural assets
Professional development project to develop the Asian country’s archaeological resources
A country’s cultural heritage is an invaluable resource in its social, cultural and economic growth. Looking after it therefore is crucial to preserving its integrity and requires specialist expertise developed and prepared to deal with the complexity of issues posed by these legacies from the past in terms of their conservation, maintenance, management and promotion. Transferring this expertise, or helping update existing expertise, is crucial in guaranteeing that each country can manage their own heritage with skill and in line with current international standards. And there is no doubt that Italy is recognised as an international authority in the conservation of cultural heritage.
Against this background, last November in Tam Ky, in the Quang Nam province of Vietnam, a project entitled Vocational Training Centre for the restoration and conservation of Cultural Heritage was launched, which aims to develop the professionals working at various levels in the process of conserving cultural heritage.
The project, which will run for 30 months, is financed by the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development, the People’s Committee of Quang Nam Province and the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies at the Politecnico di Milano which is responsible for developing scientific content and operations. Collaborating in the project are the Carlo Maurilio Lerici Foundation, which has worked for many years in the conservation of archaeological heritage in South East Asia and Vietnam in particular, and the Institute for the Conservation of Monuments in Hanoi. Operations are headquartered in the Vocational Training College in Tam Ky.
The project objectives are clear and complex: train technicians and workers in the conservation of cultural heritage; develop a laboratory for the restoration of mobile works; open and create archaeological dig sites and conservation of artefacts. Teaching is based on the principle of “learning by doing” and sees students working side by side with experts from the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies and the Lerici Foundation, carrying out studies, surveys and operations.
The site selected for practical operations is the My Son archaeological complex, an important testament of the Champa culture from over 1500 years ago, which was added to the list of World Heritage sites in 1999.
During the first year of operations, which will finish in June, the first few months saw alternating visits from numerous Italian and Vietnamese experts to Tam Ky to conduct lectures aimed at developing expertise in three areas crucial to the conservation of this area’s heritage: archaeological techniques, architectural restoration and site management. Operations then transferred to My Son for field training, archaeological explorations and the creation of a monitoring tool, a risk map of the conditions of the complex.
36 students are participating in the project, more than initially expected, testifying to the success of the initiative, many of whom are currently employed at the leading Vietnamese institutions responsible for the protection of cultural heritage.