UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, currently holding its forty-first annual session in the Polish city of Krakow, inscribed twenty new cultural sites on its World Heritage List, including the historic city of Ahmedabad in India, archaeological sites in Cambodia and Brazil, and a “cultural landscape” in South Africa. The Committee also added extensions to two sites already on the list: Strasbourg in France, and the Bauhaus in Germany. On the other hand, the historic center of Vienna was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger as the Committee examined the state of conservation of one-hundred-and-fifty-four of its listed sites.
Bauhaus Houses, Eritrea's Capital and Ahmedabad's Walled City Among 20 Cultural Sites Added to UNESCO's World Heritage List
The Ross Pavilion International Design Competition focuses on regenerating and renewing an emblematic site at the heart of West Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, which is presently occupied by the Ross Bandstand. This nationally-important space, positioned below Edinburgh Castle in the UNESCO World Heritage site, is the seasonal focus for some of Scotland’s most high-profile events, notably Hogmanay and the International Festival’s closing fireworks.
Vernacular architecture refers to designs which find their primary influence in local conditions: in climate, in materials, and in tradition. In a country as diverse as China, with 55 state-recognized ethnic minority groups and widely varying climates and topographies, many different vernacular dwelling styles have evolved as pragmatic solutions that accommodate the unique needs and limitations of their sites.
Rapid urbanization in China has favored high-rise apartment towers over traditional housing because of their ease of construction and the population density they enable, making vernacular dwellings increasingly rare throughout the country. Some firms, like MVRDV and Ben Wood’s Studio Shanghai, have taken note of the many benefits that vernacular dwellings provide, and have created projects that attempt to reconcile tradition with urbanization. Even if you aren't planning on building in China any time soon, the following housing styles have much to teach about what it means to live in a particular time and place. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does encompass the main types of vernacular dwellings seen throughout China.
This article, written by Svetlana Kondratyeva and translated by Olga Baltsatu for Strelka Magazine, examines the most interesting cases of the role of culture in sustainable urban development based on the UNESCO report.
UNESCO published the Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development in the fall of 2016. Two UN events stimulated its creation: a document entitled Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which emphasizes seventeen global goals for future international collaboration, was signed in September of 2015 at the Summit in New York. Habitat III, the conference held once in twenty years and dedicated to housing and sustainable urban development, took place in Ecuador in October of 2016. The question of culture’s role in urban development, and what problems it can solve, was raised at both events. To answer it, UNESCO summarized global experience and included successful cases of landscaping, cultural politics, events, and initiatives from different corners of the world in the report.
Wendell Burnette Architects has released images of their design for Saudi Arabia’s 1st UNESCO World Heritage Site, the MADA’IN SALEH or HEGRA south of Petra; which has recently been approved by The Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage.
A year after the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria was destroyed by the Islamic State, a 3D-printed recreation of one of its most iconic structures has begun its world tour. Originally erected in London’s Trafalgar square in April, on Monday, the replica of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph was unveiled in its new location outside city hall in New York City.
With UNESCO's recent announcement that 17 buildings by Le Corbusier are to be added to the World Heritage List, Monocle 24's Section D speaks to a number of organisations—including the Twentieth Century Society, devotees of Frank Lloyd Wright in Arizona, London's Victoria Albert Museum, and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian in New York City—in order to understand why architectural preservation is important, and who decides what’s worth saving.
One of Pompeii’s most precious gems, the Villa of Mysteries, is now at risk of collapse due to seismic activity in the Bay of Naples, as well as vibrations from a nearby train line transporting tourists. That's the conclusion of a recent study conducted by Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA). The news comes only a few months after the reopening of the house, whose stunning frescoes had just been restored.
As The Telegraph reports, the high-tech study showed that “in addition to the vibrations from the Vesuvius light railway commuter trains, which ferry tourists to Pompeii from Naples, the protective structure around the villa, built in armored cement, wood and steel 50 years ago is threatened by its own weight and water ingress.”
The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (commonly referred to as UNESCO) has named 17 projects in 7 countries by revolutionary Modernist architect Le Corbusier to their list of World Heritage Sites. Given to places of special cultural or physical significance, the designation will help to protect and preserve the buildings for future generations. Citing Le Corbusier’s inventive architectural language, UNESCO praised the collection of projects for “[reflecting] the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the 20th century to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society.”
“The inscription on the World Heritage List of 17 buildings of sites by Le Corbusier represents a strong encouragement to continue all along Le Corbusier's built work to maintain this living heritage and to hand it down to future generations,” said Fondation Le Corbusier President Antoine Picon in a statement. “It also contributes to the understanding of that complex and fragile legacy and helps its dissemination to the widest audience.”
Continue after the break for the full list of projects and images.
Italy and UNESCO have signed an agreement to create a special Italian task force to protect art, cultural sites, and ancient artifacts that are located in areas of war or conflict around the world. They will also form a center in Turin to train cultural heritage experts. The agreement arose from a proposal presented by Italy last October that was backed by 53 countries and the UN Security Council.
Conceived as the cultural version of the Blue Helmets -- the UN’s peacekeeping forces -- the group will initially be composed of 30 police detectives specializing in art theft, and 30 archeologists and art restorers and historians, who “are already operational and ready to go where UNESCO sends them,” said Dario Franceschini, the Italian Minister of Culture, during the ceremony to sign the agreement.
Since time immemorial, and more recently, humans have wondered what the world looks like from above. This fascination has historically manifested in the plan drawing and aerial photography. In this vein, and using a motorized paraglider, National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz has captured a stunning bird’s-eye view of the ancient city of Ghadames, in Libya.
The Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), a joint-venture between Harvard University (US), the University of Oxford (UK) and Dubai’s Museum of the Future (UAE) have announced that they will replicate a structure of architectural significance that was destroyed earlier this year by IS, or 'Islamic State', at full scale in the centre of London and New York City. The arch—all that remains of the Temple of Bel at the Syrian UNESCO World Heritage site—was captured by militants in May and destroyed. By no means an isolated case, IS have looted and demolished a number of similar architectural and anthropologically important sites that "pre-date Islam in Iraq," condemning them as "symbols of idolatry."
UNESCO has inaugurated 47 new cities into its Creative Cities Network, with Detroit being selected as the first "City of Design" from the United States. The Creative Cities Network is a selection of cities across the world that promote the creation of creative and cultural industries, within the categories of crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music.
The Italian city of Florence is, according to an article for The Observer, seeking "a better class of tourist." Palazzos are being sold off and converted into hotels and spas, and the ubiquitous 'luxury apartment' development brands are creeping ever closer to some of the city's most treasured architectural monuments. In response, a recent report from UNESCO is urging the municipal government to consider the long-term effects of proposed infrastructural plans on the city, which was inscribed in 1982. "For many vocal and disgruntled Florentines," Stephanie Kirchgaessner writes, "the Palazzo Vecchio is looking less like a stately symbol of civic pride and more like an estate agency."
What are the characteristics of preservation-worthy architecture? In his book "Belyayevo Forever: A Soviet Microrayon on its Way to the UNESCO List," Kuba Snopek finds uniqueness in the seemingly generic Belyayevo microrayon, and argues that in spite of its pattern-book design it is worthy of protection. In this excerpt from the book's first chapter, Snopek examines Belyayevo's predecessor - the Ninth Quarter of Cheryomushki, which was constructed in the 1950s as an experiment that would transform Soviet housing policy - finding it to be a place which challenges our preconceived notions about architectural heritage.
A foreigner’s first contact with Moscow might begin with Google Earth. Its virtual tour through Russia’s capital starts with a view of its radial-concentric plan: loops of circular roads radiating from the Kremlin are cut through with the straight lines of prospects (avenues) and streets leading from the center towards the outskirts. This general scheme is familiar to any European architect: many other cities have circular boulevards, straight avenues and ring roads.
"A spectre," writes Kevin McKenna for The Guardian, "thought happily to have been exorcised from the heart of beautiful Edinburgh, is stalking the city’s old wynds and crevices once more." To put it more bluntly, the "formal recognition of [the Scottish capital] as one of the world’s most beautiful cities is under threat, amid a battle for the soul of its most historic quarter." As the UNESCO inspectorate moves in to determine whether the city's World Heritage Status should be renewed McKenna laments, through a series of case studies, the potentially bleak built future of one of Britain's most loved urban centres.
Kéré Architecture has placed first in a competition to design a protective shelter on the UNESCO-protected Meroe Royal Baths in Sudan, North Africa. Believed to have served nearby palaces from the great African Kingdom of Kush (now modern-day Sudan), the Meroe Royal Baths were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 and is the focus of joint research by the German Archaeological Institute and the National Corporation for Antiques and Museums. Still marked by temples, palaces and over two hundred pyramids, the ruins of Meroe are a testimony to the exchanges of culture between the Mediterranean and Africa. Find out more about the proposal after the break.
The emphasis on light and lighting now is more than ever and this is evident from the global initiative by UNESCO to declare and celebrate 2015 as the International Year of Light. With this in mind, Nightscape 2050 is a unique exhibition dedicated to Lighting and is aimed to explore a completely new horizon of lighting design. This exhibition aims to explore the interactions between people, light, and cities in the year 2050.