Eight sites from the World Monuments Fund’s 2018 World Monuments Watch list have been awarded $1 million in funding from American Express to support much-needed preservation and restoration initiatives. The sites were selected based on their vulnerability to specific threats like natural disasters, climate change or social forces like urbanization that have left them neglected.
“We recognize these sites as symbols of national and local identity, and value the role that their preservation can play in attracting visitors and revitalizing communities,” said Timothy J. McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation. The sites to be protected include entire regions of Spain and Zimbabwe and specific cultural sites in Mexico and Italy as well as individual structures like the Blackpool Piers in England or Kenzo Tange’s shuttered Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium in Japan.
Here is the full list of projects that will benefit from the contribution from American Express, as well as a brief description of how the funding will be used:
Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium / Kenzo Tange; Takamatsu, Japan
Built 1962-1964, around the same time as Tange’s Olympic arenas in Tokyo, this monumental brutalist landmark uses a system of cables to suspend a concrete hyperbolic paraboloid roof over its open interior span. After structural issues forced the gymnasium to be closed to the public in 2014, the funding will support efforts to preserve and re-purpose the building so it may return to regular use.
Blackpool Piers; Blackpool, England
A popular vacation destination, the three piers that reach into the Irish sea are currently at risk of damage from rising sea levels caused by climate change. The privately-owned piers are not able to receive financial support from the government, so the funding will assist in the development of rehabilitation strategies.
Monte Albán Archaeological Site; Oaxaca, Mexico
This sixth-century Zapotec city suffered damage to 15 of its ancient structures in a 2017 earthquake, with some buildings so severely impacted that they require emergency structural shoring. A particularly significant ancient site because of its hieroglyphic inscriptions, Monte Albán will use the funding to create a training program so local tradespeople can learn to repair and protect the site from natural disaster damage in the future.
The town of Amatrice, Italy
After a 2016 earthquake caused devastating damage and nearly 300 deaths in the hill town of Amatrice, the town is still in desperate need of rehabilitation. The funding will contribute to the restoration of the Museo Cola Filotesio’s bell tower, which survived the earthquake but requires significant stabilization and repairs.
Grand Theater of Prince Kung’s Mansion; Beijing, China
The Theater at Prince Kung’s 18th-century mansion operates as the only imperial mansion theater open to the public in Beijing, remaining in use for performances today. The funding will support efforts to return the theater to its authentic original appearance from the era of Prince Kung’s life.
Matobo Hills Cultural Landscape; Zimbabwe
Connected to 100,000 years of human history, the Matobo Hills contain dramatic rock formations as well as one of the world’s greatest collections of rock paintings. Human intervention in the surrounding areas have put the site at risk of damage from fires and deforestation; thus the funding will support increased conservation efforts.
Tebaida Leonesa; León, Spain
In the region that is known for its rugged mountain terrain and well-preserved medieval architecture, growing tourism and development within the Tebaida Leonesa threatens to affect the area’s timeless character. The funding will be used to restore original wall paintings in the tenth-century Church of Santiago de Peñalba.
Potager du Roi; Versailles, France
Established according to King Louis XIV’s grand vision, the Potager du Roi garden was created to supply the kitchens of the Palace of Versailles. Since its creation, the garden has helped develop strategies for growing produce out of season and developing hybrid fruits. The funding will support maintenance of the garden and help enrich visitor experiences.
News via: World Monuments Fund