The French law of 4 August 1962 raised for the first time the question of the protection of the historic areas, its three fundamental objectives being: safeguarding city centres of a historic, artistic and cultural importance; rendering previously uninhabitable lodging habitable, and; establishing financial incentives. At the time, four hundred cities were deemed worthy of protection. Today, less than 98 areas have been classified as “secteurs sauvegardés”. This amount ought not be considered negligible. Numerous steps have been taken towards the safeguarding of the urban heritage, but this evolution has been slow and contradictory. The objective of this work is to shed light on the conceptions of heritage prevalent at the time, their practical implementation, the weaknesses and the strengths thereof via a historical analysis of the first generation “secteurs sauvegardés”. The finding emanating from this research will aid in identifying appropriate policy for today’s safeguard and recognition of historic centres.
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