One of the world’s best-known, highly respected and influential heritage conservation professionals in the area of history, theory and philosophy of conservation, architectural and urban conservation, and the World Heritage Convention, Jukka Ilmari Jokilehto was an architect and city planner who contributed to the training of generations of heritage professionals around the world.
Born and raised in Helsinki, Finland, he graduated in Architecture at the Polytechnic of Helsinki. He later received his DPhil in History and Philosophy of Conservation from the University of York in the UK.
He began work in Finland in architectural offices in Mikkeli, Helsinki and Espoo. In 1971, he began his association with ICCROM as a participant in the Architectural Conservation (ARC) Course. He served as an assistant to the course in 1972 and became a staff member at ICCROM in 1973, remaining until his retirement in 1998. During his time at ICCROM he held a variety of titles and positions, including Coordinator of the ARC course, Advisor to the Director, Senior Programme Officer, Chief of Sector of Architectural Conservation, Course Director and, finally, Assistant to the Director-General. His primary focus at ICCROM was on architectural conservation – that is, the ARC course and its derivatives. He continued to develop that course and went on to train over 1 000 heritage professionals from all regions of the world. The course was a wide-ranging training that covered topics such as history and theory of conservation, structures, conservation of materials, urban conservation and much more.
His innovative approach to architectural conservation continued beyond the ARC course and led to the development of the Integrated Territorial and Urban Conservation (ITUC) programme in 1997. This innovative programme, which looked at urban conservation within its larger territorial context, served as a theoretical basis for the later development at UNESCO of the Historic Urban Landscape approach. Jukka, along with many of the ITUC course advisors and teachers, was part of the various working groups brought together by UNESCO for the drafting of the Vienna Memorandum in 2005 and the later Historic Urban Landscape Recommendation approved by the UNESCO General Conference in 2011.
Courses related to ARC were developed over the years, including one in Italian (ITARC) from 1991–1992 and a modern architecture course in Finland from 1999–2011. The ARC course was also the basis for the Course on Conservation of Built Heritage (CBH), which had its most recent edition in 2023. Just as important was the development of several materials-based courses, such as the stone and wood courses. These provided a shorter general overview and then dived into the specific materials and their conservation. Both courses still exist, and Jukka was instrumental in their development.
In addition to Jukka’s architectural and urban conservation work at ICCROM, a third important focus of his was the World Heritage Convention. He represented ICCROM at the World Heritage Committee for many years. He helped develop and refine some of the key concepts and practices that come out of the World Heritage framework, including the ongoing development of concepts such as authenticity and integrity as applied to World Heritage and methodologies for managing World Heritage properties. He also carried out several evaluation missions for new nominations and, of course, reactive monitoring and other missions within the World Heritage context. One of his most important contributions was the development of the first World Heritage Training Strategy for Cultural Heritage, which he began working on in 1995. The AFRICA 2009 programme stemmed from that effort. This placement of capacity building as a key part of implementing the World Heritage Convention rests squarely on his efforts.
Jukka taught in many ICCROM courses over the years on topics of history and theory of conservation and planned and participated in a great number of projects, missions and other activities within the organization. He was also instrumental in much of the strategic growth of ICCROM and the development of key policies to strengthen the organization.
Outside of ICCROM, Jukka was also very active in ICOMOS and served as the President of the ICOMOS Training Committee, CIF, from 1992 to 2001. His tenure included the passage of the Guidelines for Education and Training in the Conservation of Monuments, Ensembles and Sites in 1993. Later, after his retirement from ICCROM, he became a World Heritage Advisor to ICOMOS from 2000–2006. He was also a member of the ICOMOS Academy and the ICOMOS International Committee on Theory and Philosophy of Conservation and Restoration.
Even after his retirement from ICCROM, he remained strongly connected to the organization: formally as a Special Advisor to the Director-General and as a lecturer and consultant on courses, missions and other activities. Informally, he was always available to ICCROM staff to give advice and to discuss current trends in the conservation of cultural heritage. He was also active with Italian authorities on the development of nomination files for the World Heritage Convention.
His university teaching post-retirement included the University of Nova Gorica, the University of York and the University of Dublin, to name a few.
He was associated with several journals in various capacities, including the Journal of Architectural Conservation, Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, Heritage Architecture, Energeo Magazine and Change Over Time.
A few of the awards he was given over the years include the Yugoslav Order of the Flag with Golden Star in 1983, the Order of the White Rose of Finland Recognition of Merit – First class in 1992 and the ICCROM Award in 2000.
Jukka will be remembered by many for his important publications. His authored more than 350 publications, the most famous being the classic A History of Architectural Conservation, published in 1999 with a second expanded edition published in 2017. This book, based on his PhD research, has become the key reference for the study of the history of conservation around the world and has been translated into many languages.
Other publications included his work with Sir Bernard Feilden, Management Guidelines for World Cultural Heritage Sites, published in 1993 (2nd edition in 1998). He also wrote a history of ICCROM – ICCROM and the Conservation of Cultural Heritage – as part of the ICCROM Conservation Studies series (2011), and authored ICOMOS papers, such as The World Heritage List: Filling the Gaps – An Action Plan for the Future of the World Heritage List (2005) and The World Heritage List: What is OUV (2008).
Works about him include a Festschrift, Conserving the Authentic: Essays in Honour of Jukka Jokilehto, edited by Nicholas Stanley Price and Joseph King in 2009, and Conversaciones con Jukka Jokilehto, an issue of the journal, Conversaciones con, edited by Valerie Magar in 2016.
Perhaps Jukka’s most lasting contribution is the capacity he helped develop in the thousands of professionals who passed through ICCROM over the years. His openness and willingness to share information, discuss and debate many of the key issues facing a developing profession, and his kindness and generosity have contributed to the consolidation of the field and have provided a solid basis on which it continues to grow.
Jukka leaves behind his wife, Dr Mehr-Azar Soheil, and children Darius Jokilehto (Anett Takács) and Dara Jokilehto (Cristina Wahl), and three grandchildren, Caspar, Sebastian and Marley.
ICCROM Staff and the ICCROM community express their condolences to the family and to all heritage conservation professionals for the loss of one of the few “giants” in the field.
To honour Jukka's memory and celebrate the impact he had on our community, we have created a page where you can share condolences and memories. Visit https://jukka.one to add your messages and tributes.
The conservation of cultural heritage is a cultural problem. Restoration is not a recipe, but depends on an appropriate understanding of the values contained in the heritage resource.
Jukka's memorial service at ICCROM
- In 2020, Jukka sat down with ICCROM’s Rohit Jigyasu for a thought-provoking discussion revolving around the universal nature of conservation philosophy and how it relates to diverse cultural expressions. Listen to the interview, which is divided into two episodes.
- One of his most revered recent works is his paper "Questions of Authenticity," published in the 8th edition of the Conversaciones... journal (2020).
- In 2016, Jukka authored a history of ICCROM titled ICCROM and the Conservation of Cultural Heritage: A History of the Organization’s first 50 years.
- In 2009, ICCROM Senior Director Joseph King and former ICCROM Director-General Nicholas Stanley-Price published a collection of essays (Conserving the Authentic) in honour of Jukka Jokilehto’s contribution and dedication to the conservation profession in developing both theory and practice.
- In 2008, Jukka compiled a comprehensive ICOMOS study - What is OUV? Defining the Outstanding Universal Value of Cultural World Heritage Properties.
- In 1999, Jukka penned his most famous work, A History of Architectural Conservation, which became required reading in the field.
Jukka coauthored Management Guidelines for World Heritage Sites with Sir Bernard Feilden (ICCROM, Rome, 1993, reprinted in 1998).
ICCROM scholarship fund
To remember Jukka and honour his legacy, you can make a donation to the ICCROM scholarship fund. Your generosity will contribute to the growth of knowledge in preserving cultural heritage.
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