There’s a well-known catchphrase – “Cape to Cairo” – that has spawned numerous books and piqued the imagination of countless travellers of the African continent. The phrase’s origins are of imperial nature, birthed out of an 1874 proposal by English journalist Edwin Arnold that sought to discover the origins of the Congo River. This project was later taken up by imperialist Cecil Rhodes, who envisioned a continuous railway of British-ruled territories that stretched from the North to the South of the continent.
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Rethinking History: Democratising Architectural Heritage
The built environment we all inhabit is part and parcel of global, interconnected processes and systems. When we appraise the historically significant architecture of our cities, the structural integrity and aesthetics of a building merits equal consideration with factors such as the labour conditions of its builders to the existing power structures of its time. Examples of Italian Modernism in Eritrea, for instance, might be worthy of aesthetic praise – but intertwined with the legacy of these buildings hailed as Modernist icons is the sobering fact that they were built to further an imperial project. In the complex fields of architectural conservation, preservation and cultural heritage, democratisation should always remain a key priority.
Bauhaus Houses, Eritrea's Capital and Ahmedabad's Walled City Among 20 Cultural Sites Added to UNESCO's World Heritage List
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.
10 Highlights from Guardian Cities' "History of Cities in 50 Buildings"
All good things must come to an end, and Guardian Cities' excellent "History of Cities in 50 Buildings" series is sadly no exception, with only a few more left to be published before they hit 50. The whole series is definitely worth the read, bringing in the best of academic and architectural writing from guest authors and the Guardian's own Cities team, but if you're strapped for time - and if you're an architect, it's fairly likely that's true - we've rounded up 10 highlights from the list to get you started.
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