ARURCOHE's general aims are driven and inspired among others by contemporary heritage related works from the Council of Europe, the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the European Cultural Heritage Strategy for the 21st century, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) as well as the World Heritage Convention from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), DOCOMOMO international, national agencies and construction companies.  

Diversity and complexity are common characteristics of any cultural heritage but the modern urban and architectural heritage offers an added challenge as a result of its closeness in time. This highlights its heterogeneous nature and abundant variety, based on the association with industrial production systems, as well as being at the service of the needs of a continuously growing society of masses. When we talk about contemporary heritage we refer to broad urban and architectural typologies. They certainly include icons of the Modern Movement as well as examples celebrated by architectural and urban contemporary histories, but also concern the huge building production from the second half of the 20th century. In Western Europe in particular, the decades between 1945 and 1975 have been a period of great demographic increase, economic growth and an unprecedented degree of urban expansion. More generally, from the post-war period onwards, we can see housing for the greatest number of people often designed by renowned architects, high-rise buildings, infrastructure, large industrial and commercial settlements, satellite towns by renowned planners, etc., profoundly changed landscapes and townscapes. The period before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union is the last example in Europe affecting the way of life in several countries of the European Union.

This patrimony inherited from the past century represent a relevant challenge for the present generations all over the world:

1.- in terms of environmental and economic sustainability, by answering the questions: why, at what extent and how to preserve, reuse, maintain, adapt, or at least recycle such an important resource;

2.- in terms of place meaning and identity, cultural witnesses belong to collective memory and are to be considered as intangible heritage.

The vulnerability of the architectural and modern heritage is largely linked to the fast pace that characterizes "the short 20th century". Concerning its conservation, contemporary heritage is particularly vulnerable, due to technical and cultural reasons:

1.- The diversity of materials, techniques and formats that make it up; nowadays many of those elements are not produced anymore

2.- The innovative and experimental characteristics of many of the systems and materials used in its production.

3.- The scarce durability of some materials and techniques: it is the case of the reinforced concrete structures but also of the subsequent repairs effected on the same artefacts over time, that represent a considerable cost for communities.

4.- Insufficient knowledge of advanced and appropriate techniques of intervention, both at a general level and in each specific area.

5.- Lack of consensus on the definition of criteria of intervention.

6.- Lack of awareness in society about heritage value.

Cultural production since the early 20th century poses the objective difficulty of identifying assets that could be considered as cultural heritage. In general, society and the Administration bodies hardly recognize or value the buildings and sites from the 20th century as a heritage to be preserved. Architecture from the recent past does not particularly attract society's attention. Nevertheless, the great urban development processes and the technological progress in construction (large-scale use of concrete, steel, glass, etc.) are the result of the efforts aimed at improving the quality of life of many generations. 

This complex situation of vulnerability endangers the cultural assets produced in the recent past, exposed to risks arising from:

1.- Abandonment or destruction.

2.- The functional obsolescence caused by the transformation or disappearance of social, productive and technological means by and for who they were created.

3.- The carrying out of irreversible modifications, both in the layout of the buildings and sites and in the strengthening of their structures or the treatments of coatings and exposed surfaces.

Note: Texts partially based on the "National Plan for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage of the 20th century", Spànish Cultural Heritage Institute of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.