Contemporary architecture is protected by the Italian “Copyright Law” (Law n. 633/41), under the condition that the works nominated are creative and original, in other words with an “important artistic character”.

The DGAAP is responsible for issuing the “Declaration of important artistic character” for works of contemporary architecture.
The particularity of this law is that it does not directly protect the work, but instead its author.

More precisely, it provides the author (the designer) with the possibility to decide – in the event of a restoration or refurbishment – how to modify his/her project (even when modifications are required for functional reasons) and to refute eventual proposals that would prejudice the original characteristics and initial quality of the project in question. This moral right may be requested by the author (and not, for example, by the owners of the work).

Hence, Law n. 633/41 protects contemporary architecture, even if only indirectly. In fact, with respect to the architecture of the past, it risked not being protected at all, as it exists outside the limits of time (50-70 years) after which a heritage listing is imposed by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.
Financial assistance for renovation projects is available to works that obtain a declaration of important artistic character.


Law n. 633/41 protects the products of creative activity by recognising a number of their author’s rights, both moral and related to financial benefits gained from the work.

The law protects:

  • works of sculpture, painting, drawings, engravings and similar figurative arts, including set design;
  • drawings and works of architecture.

Works of architecture are subject to specific measures that serve to reconcile the need to safeguard authorship rights with the needs tied to their fruition (art. 20 c. 2).

Normally, an author is unable to oppose any modifications to his/her work. If, instead, the work is recognised as possessing an important artistic character, the author is the sole person responsible for studying and implementing these modifications.

The Codice dei Beni Culturali (Cultural Heritage Code) was the first tool to have introduced the protection of contemporary architecture within Italian legislation, placing these works among those that require specific protection measures (art. 11, co. 1, letter e).


To obtain a declaration of important artistic character

The process for obtaining recognition of the important artistic character of contemporary works of architecture is defined in Circolar 05/2016, recently updated.

Requests are to be submitted to the locally responsible ABEAP Superintendent, and copied to the DGAAP. Submissions must contain all technical and personal information and photographic documentation of the current state of the work.

To obtain a financial contribution

In accordance with art. 16, c. 2, lett. e) del DPCM 171/2014, the DGAAP may, upon request from the owner of the property, issue interest rate subsidies for conservation works involving contemporary architecture recognised by the Ministry as being of particular artistic value, as indicated in the Codice dei Beni Culturali.(art. 37 co. 4)

Following the concession of these subsidies, after ascertaining the admissibility of the project via its territorial office, the owner may sign a minimum 10 year convention with the local Superintendent. This document serves to define the methods by which the public can access and enjoy the work in question, as indicated in the Codice dei Beni Culturali (art. 38).
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