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What constitutes a site?
A site is more than just a collection of individual buildings or houses. A site is defined by the relationship between the buildings, the way in which the areas between the buildings - open spaces and streets, gardens and parks - are arranged and the relationship of the site to the immediate and more distant surrounding areas.
What is the ISOS?
The ISOS is an inventory of sites, rather than of individual buildings. A site inventory gives a view of the whole, thereby complementing a detailed view. The data provided on a site's history and development, and the description of individual areas, groups of buildings and its surroundings allow planners, architects and construction authorities to take a sensitive approach to the site and help to preserve its value for the nation.
What is contained in an ISOS record?
An ISOS record contains a plan showing the layout of the different areas of the site, a legend to the plan, a short description of the history of the site and pictures illustrating it.
Who decides which sites shall be considered of national importance?
There is a precise procedure to determine if a site will be listed in the Federal Inventory ISOS. Firstly, the site is examined in a cantonal and regional comparison and assessed by representatives of the federal government, cantons and members of the expert ISOS Assessment Committee. It is then recommended as a site of national importance according to the type of settlement (city, small town/town, urbanised village, village, hamlet, special case) and on the basis of its topographical, spatial and architectural-historical features. Following this expert assessment, the members of the local cantonal council and the relevant federal authorities give their opinion. The decision to list a site in the ISOS lies with the Federal Council, which also decides Federal Council decides whether sites are to be reclassified or removed from the inventory under the Ordinance on the Federal Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites HSIO (SR 451.12).
Which criteria are applied?
Each site is assessed in a cantonal and regional comparison according to the type of settlement (city, small town/town, urbanised village, village, hamlet, special case). Topographical, spatial and architectural-historical features determine the national importance of the site.
In which cases is an individual object viewed as worthy of preservation, a reference point or an obtrusive feature?
The ISOS classifies sites into settlements, groups of buildings and entire areas. The criteria applied include spatial and historical features and the condition of the site, its importance and the reasons for preserving it. If the quality of an object differs markedly from the site's overall assessment, it is specially marked either as an individual element worthy of protection, a reference point or an obtrusive feature.
What legal force does the ISOS have?
Under article 6 NHCA (SR 451) the federal government is required to take account of the ISOS when fulfilling its duties. It must ensure that when classifying and maintaining federally owned sites, and when issuing licences and authorisations or granting subsidies, the noteworthy features of a site of national importance remain intact. The cantons and communes are also required to consider the Federal Inventory; under article 4a HSIO the cantons must take the Federal Inventory into account when drawing up their structure plans.
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