Introduction

The European Community has suffered from disastrous floods in recent years, which caused enormous damages (compare Fig. 1) and left hundreds of peoples dead in several European countries. The flooding occurred across regional borders and involved neighbouring states along the rivers Elbe (2002), Odra

(1997), Rhine (1993 and 1995) and many more. Floods can not be prevented. Europe will have to face further flood catastrophes due to the change of climate and due to further building activities in flood-prone regions [1] [2] [3].

Although very comprehensive, projects, strategies and further administrative measures, which started after the recent flood events, do not

Figure 1. Historic power station in Prague (CZ) during flood in 2002. Photo: V Herle.

include the particularities of movable and immovable Cultural Heritage like objects in museums and libraries, historic buildings, parks and sites (historic cities), which are threatened by flood catastrophes. For protecting the common European Cultural Heritage against flood hazards and environmental conditions related to flood, a focus has to be put on the mapping of the above mentioned risk-areas including the objects worthy of protection. It is required to assign a high protection level to particular monuments or to areas where valuable historic sites are located [4].

This decision requires a lot of knowledge and experiences, because a multitude of reasons can have an influence on the characterisation and classification of these objects. The aspects which have to be considered vary from historic significance and context of the object, building structure or landside to technical problems like lack of documentation, unknown structural condition and assembly, unknown material properties and characteristics or unknown parameters of exposure.

Thus, a research project titled Cultural Heritage Protection against Flood (CHEF) has been proposed under the 6th European Framework Program to support policy-oriented research. The main goal of the CHEF project is avoiding or mitigating the damage of movable and immovable Cultural Heritage related to flood by considering preventive and emergency measures, damage evaluation methodologies, as well as restoration and repair techniques. The project will bring together existing information and experiences regarding flood problems and contains innovative aspects based on experimental and theoretical research activities in the laboratory and on-site.

The project CHEF contributes to the call area 8.1 B.3.6 The protection of Cultural Heritage and associated conservation strategies, Task 4: To help protect

Figure 2. Observed frequency of flood events in the historic centre of Genova/Italy [5].

Cultural Heritage from environmental damage particularly in relation to flooding: to develop preventive conservation strategies, to identify appropriate measures and to provide clear recommendations for mitigating or removing damages from Cultural Heritage objects, particularly in relation to flooding; policy-oriented research, Scientific Support to Policies (SSP) by considering aspects varying from historic significance and context of the object, building structure or landside to technical problems like lack of documentation, unknown structural condition and assembly, unknown material properties and characteristics and unknown parameters of exposure.

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