This month, UNESCO has announced a series of decisions concerning important heritage sites, giving rise to conversations around preservation and urban development. Last week, the World Heritage Committee decided to strip Liverpool of its heritage status, as the new developments are considered detrimental to the waterfront's integrity. These projects placed the city on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2012, a designation which Venice managed to avoid earlier this week, due in great part to the recent ban on cruise ships.
The city of Liverpool, defined as a World Heritage Site in 2004, was removed from the list last week after featuring on UNESCO's "in danger" list for almost a decade. A UNESCO commission concluded that the large-scale infrastructure projects and new developments had undermined the integrity of the Victorian-era docks, altering the character of the "maritime mercantile city" of Liverpool.
According to UNESCO, the city was initially inscribed as a Heritage Site "for bearing witness to the development of one of the world's major trading centres in the 18th and 19th centuries" The site was also an example of pioneering dock technology and port management. The UNESCO World Heritage Site designation comes with a certain level of prestige and has a positive effect on tourism, so city authorities contested the decision concerning Liverpool.
Related ArticleItalian Government Officially Bans Cruise Ships in Venice
Venice avoided being designated an at-risk UNESCO heritage site earlier this week, thanks to Italy's recent ban on cruise ships in the lagoon. This is the third time in 7 years that UNESCO discusses adding the city to the list of World Heritage sites in danger due to issues such as over-tourism, depopulation, the deterioration of the lagoon ecosystem, as well as the poor management of urban development around Venice.
The World Heritage Center recommended listing Venice on the endangered list as a means to signal to the international community the urgency of Venice's situation. UNESCO's vote against the measure has been met with criticism among preservation groups since the vast majority of issues flagged by the World Heritage Committee remain unsolved. The listing is widely seen as a criticism of the local management of these protected sites.
Also during this 44th session, the World Heritage Committee decided to include the Atlántida Cristo Obrero church designed by Uruguayan engineer Eladio Dieste on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The distinction acknowledges the technical innovation of the project and its value as a reinterpretation of traditional Uruguayan architecture. Built entirely in brick and featuring double curvature masonry vaults with no additional structural support, the church is an architectural feat and one of the best-known works of the renowned engineer.