At the heart of it, architecture is an inter-disciplinary profession. Ranging from structural engineers to quantity surveyors, a design project thrives from the collaboration of individuals from various fields of work. An often-overlooked connection is the link between the fields of architecture and archaeology, which in more ways than one have a lot in common. In a time of increased awareness on issues of sustainability and heritage, the expertise present in the field of archaeology plays a vital part in the preservation of architectural landmarks of historical significance. This expertise can also play a significant part in creating sensitive architectural interventions suitable for their context, contemporary in their design while responding to historical precedents.
Unesco: The Latest Architecture and News
Last November, UNESCO, the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, and the Iraqi Sunni Endowment jointly announced an international design competition for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the historical Al Nouri Complex in Mosul. One of the oldest cities in the world, Mosul ("the linking point" in Arabic) is beginning a recovery process following years of conflict, guided by an initiative aptly titled "Revive the Spirit of Mosul." The rehabilitation of the Al Nouri Complex, which dates originally to the twelfth century and has constituted a core facet of city life since, is a central part of this initiative, and is intended to signal the city's resilience, hope, social cohesion, and reconciliation in the aftermath of the conflicts. Six months after the competition was originally announced, winners have finally been chosen.
Dutch design practice Mecanoo has shared initials details of the new Macau Central Library as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Designed for the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macau SAR Government, the project will be located by the Tap Seac square on the site of the former Hotel Estoril, the first casino resort in Macau. Activating the square and public realm, the library will encourage visitors to uncover and utilize this new public amenity.
In 1972 Unesco created the World Heritage Convention linking together the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural heritage. Based on the understanding that sites and monuments are threatened with deterioration or disappearance over time, the organization determines that those of outstanding universal value deserve special protection from the dangers they are facing. Therefore, the efforts to identify, protect, preserve, and value the sites included on this list are meant to safeguard and pass the world's cultural and natural heritage on to future generations.
Jean Nouvel has just unveiled his design for Sharaan, a resort hidden within the rock dwellings of AlUla, a cultural oasis in north-west Arabia. Showcasing a modern take on millennia-old ways of living, the project puts in place monumental designs carved into the rocks, respecting and preserving the landscape. Inspired by the nearby Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the concept takes a curatorial approach bringing together landscape and history.
Islamic architecture has been perhaps one of the most culturally significant typologies throughout history. Not only do the buildings themselves serve as centers for community and social services, but their designs reflect Muslim beliefs and morals, and reveal the rich history of nations in the Middle East.
Budget Direct and NeoMam Studios, a creative studio based in the UK, have created a series of animated gifs restoring 6 UNESCO cultural sites and showcasing how these ruins would have looked like if they had been preserved. Bringing to life endangered sites, the project includes the recently destroyed ruins of Palmyra in Syria and Hatra in Iraq, demolished by ISIS in 2015.
In the 1920s, work was completed on the Cité Frugès housing complex in Pessac, France. The project, meant to house Pessac's industrial workers, would be one of seventeen Le Corbusier works on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
World Heritage Site is the title given to specific places on the globe (landscapes, cultural routes, cities, or architectural structures) by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, as a way to recognize their natural or cultural relevance and to encourage their preservation. Up to 2019, 1121 places in over 167 countries have been declared World Heritage Sites, of which 869 are cultural, 213 natural and 39 are mixed category.
Walking through narrow chaotic alleys dwarfed by soaring towers, few would estimate the age of Yemen's city of Shibam at nearly 1,700 years. Located in Yemen's central Hadhramaut district, Shibam has roots in the pre-Islamic period, and evidence of construction dating from the 9th century.
Shibam is known as the first city on earth with a vertical masterplan. A protected UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, the city is home to densely packed buildings ranging from four to eight storeys, beginning in 300 AD but now mostly built after 1532. Thanks to a fortified ring wall, the city has survived nearly two thousand years despite its precarious position adjacent to the wadi floodplain.
Enter the ancient walled world of Shibam after the break
Praksis Arkitekter has won the competition to design a new visitor center for the Stevns Klint UNESCO World Heritage site in Denmark. Four architecture firms were invited to participate, and Praksis was chosen as the winner working with Kristine Jensen Landscape and Henry Jensen engineers. The project was designed to fit into the landscape as visitors move from the geology of Stevns Klint to the sea.
Eight buildings by acclaimed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Titled “The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright,” the list of eight major works is a revision of a previous application lodged in February 2015. Submitted by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, the list spans Wright’s 70-year career with schemes such as Unity Temple, Taliesin West, Fallingwater, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
According to a statement published on the UNESCO page, the UNESCO World Heritage List is a legacy of monuments and sites of great natural and cultural wealth that belongs to all of humanity. The Sites inscribed on the World Heritage List fulfill a function of milestones on the planet, of symbols of the awareness of States and peoples about the meaning of those places and emblems of their attachment to collective property, as well as of the transmission of that heritage to future generations.
Foster + Partners has released their design for a library and cultural center alongside The Scroll, a new piece of public art by British sculptor Gerry Judah. Called the House of Wisdom, the project coincides with Sharjah being named this year’s UNESCO World Book Capital. Aiming to be a new cultural quarter in the city, the House of Wisdom was made to establish and retain connections with the outside.
One day after the fire that partially destroyed the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, we are left to look back at the night of unfolding devastation, and forward at plans to renovate and restore the structure back to its former glory. The 856-year-old structure, which has survived riots, wars, and revolutions, sustained major damage as fire destroyed its central spire, 66% of its roof, and parts of its vaulted interior. Despite the alarming images and videos of the Gothic masterpiece ablaze, it appears that the main structure, and much of the interior, has escaped destruction.
While a full investigation into the cause of the fire will likely take some time, new details continue to emerge on the course of the blaze, and initiatives from the public and private sector to fund the cathedral’s restoration. Below, we recap the timeline that unfolded on the evening of April 15th, before detailing the plans to recover a building emblematic of the history of its city and country.
Danish architecture studio Dorte Mandrup has designed new culture house and library in the heart of the Swedish baroque city of Karlskrona. Working with Marianne Levinsen Landskab and Torbjörn Nilsson, the team developed the cultural project to combine an art hall, library and cafe together in the city center. The culture house is meant to become a modern meeting place and hub for several cultural activities at the corner of Karlskrona’s central square.
UNESCO has named Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as the World Capital of Architecture for 2020. In keeping with UNESCO’s recent partnership agreement with the UIA, UNESCO designates the World Capital of Architecture, which also hosts the UIA’s World Congress. The World Capital of Architecture is intended to become an international forum for debates about pressing global challenges from the perspectives of culture, cultural heritage, urban planning and architecture.