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Unesco World Heritage Site: The Latest Architecture and News

Architectural Works that Were Declared World Heritage Sites in the Last Decade

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.

The 'Manhattan of the Desert': Shibam, Yemen's Ancient Skyscraper City

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

© Wikimedia CC user Aiman titi Shibam rooftops. Image © Flickr CC user maartenF © Wikimedia CC user Jialiang Gao Haroon Alrashid Mosque in Shibam. Image © Flickr CC user Najeeb Musallam + 6

Foster+Partners Reveal Conceptual Design for Winery in Saint-Émilion, France

Foster + Partners have released images for their proposal for the new Le Dôme winery in Saint-Émilion, the firm’s second winery in the Bordeaux area, the first being Château Margaux in 2015. Located in a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape, the design blends seamlessly with the topography.

Mixed-Use Project in the Cultural City of Riga Receives Planning Approval

The Latvian city of Riga, the largest between the three Baltic states, is undergoing a cultural and urban renaissance. The city's pedestrian-only Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with several museums, cultural centers, and restaurants, attracting thousands of new visitors every year.

London-based architecture firm AI Studio have received planning approval for the development of a mixed-use tower in the Latvian capital, featuring retail stores, offices, restaurants, and public spaces.

© Photoreal3D © Photoreal3D © Photoreal3D © Photoreal3D + 17

MDDM Design Winning Proposal for Oscar Niemeyer’s Fair in Tripoli

The international competition for the design of the Knowledge Innovation Center (KIC), part of the Tripoli Special Economic Zone (TSEZ), selected the proposal of MDDM, a Beirut based architectural firm, as the winning project. Taking place in the Rachid Karami International Fair designed by Oscar Niemeyer back in the ’60s, in Tripoli, Lebanon, the imagined intervention had to be functionaly and conceptually compliant to specific requirements.

MDDM winning proposal. Image © MDDM MDDM winning proposal. Image © MDDM MDDM winning proposal. Image © MDDM MDDM winning proposal. Image © MDDM + 17

FCBStudios Reimagines Industrial Heritage of Cornwall to Revitalize UNESCO Harbor Site

Hayle North Quay. Image Courtesy of Forbes Massie Hayle North Quay. Image Courtesy of FCBStudios Hayle North Quay Hayle North Quay + 9

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios has received unanimous planning approval for the third phase of work in Cornwall. Called Hayle North Quay, the 20 acre mixed use regeneration project was made to create a contemporary harbourside as part of the region's UNESCO World Heritage Site. The scheme draws inspiration from Cornish coal wharf heritage and the natural landscape to creating a vibrant vision for Cornwall's coast.

8 Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings Given UNESCO World Heritage Status

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.

Buddhist Monasteries and Spain's Islamic Palace-City Among 19 New Sites Added to UNESCO's World Heritage List

© Council for Inscription of Buddhist Mountain
© Council for Inscription of Buddhist Mountain

After carefully deliberating in their annual session, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee selected 19 new sites to inscribe on the World Heritage List in the city of Manama in Bahrain. Featuring 13 cultural sites such as Buddhist mountain monasteries in Korea, the industrial city of Ivrea in Italy, and the Caliphate city of Medina Azahara in Spain, alongside three natural sites and three mixed sites (classified as both cultural and natural heritage), the list now aggregates to 1092 sites in 167 countries.

From the historical Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul to the contemporary city of Brasilia orchestrated by Oscar Niemeyer, the World Heritage List has continuously exhibited varied examples of architecture and urban planning from different eras and movements from around the world. Amongst the new additions, there are several sites of religious importance, city organization, and natural conservation.

© Madinat al-Zahra Archaeological Site (CAMaZ)/M. Pijuán © IPOGEA © DAI/Göbekli Tepe Project © Förderverein Welterbe an Saale und Unstrut/Guido Siebert + 15

8 Treasured Historic Architecture Sites That Have Hosted Huge Rock Concerts

Thanks to their loud, brash, and nocturnal nature, rock concerts are often held in dark bars and nightclubs designed to withstand the abuse of rowdy fans and guitar-smashing rockers. But as musicians earn a following, they eventually graduate from beer-soaked basements to prestigious theaters, outdoor amphitheaters, arenas, and stadiums. For performers and music fans alike, playing or attending a show in a space like Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Madison Square Garden or Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater can be a momentous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that ties together the sublime power that great music and architecture can both evoke. As rare as these opportunities are, an exclusive group of iconic musicians have managed to reach an even higher level of prestige by organizing one-off performances amid humanity’s most treasured historical sites—from the Acropolis and ancient Mayan cities to the Colosseum and the Eiffel Tower.

While these special concerts have given fans the chance to experience music history firsthand, many have also been mired in scandal as local officials and residents have raised concerns about potential damage to the sites or inappropriate commercial misuse of treasured cultural landmarks. Despite these legitimate and often justified concerns, these nine iconic sites have hosted some of the most ambitious concerts in the history of popular music:

Dorte Mandrup to Design Her Third UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea Project

Denmark-based architect Dorte Mandrup has won her third UNESCO World Heritage Center project, with her design of the Trilateral Wadden Sea World Heritage Partnership Centre. The project was the winner in a contest to design a new headquarters for the Centre, an organization that aims to protect the Wadden Sea and is jointly run by Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Tel Aviv's New Skyline Brings Residential Density

Harugei Malchut by HQ Architects
Harugei Malchut by HQ Architects

With the completion of the citywide light-rail expected in 2020, connecting Tel Aviv’s city center to neighboring Ramat Gan, Ramat HaHayal, Bat Yam, Jaffa, and Givatayim brings a new wave of residential architecture to transform the skyline. The city of Tel Aviv boasts the highest land value in the Middle East, and with this new connectivity it is only projected to increase demand and value.

The city Tel Aviv is deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its collection of over 4,000 Bauhaus and Eclectic Architecture-style builds. The original city plan was made in 1925 by Sir Patrick Geddes, and is about to witness a significant shift. To promote density, the “TAMA 38” policy gives developers the opportunity to add additional units and floors in exchange for updating the existing units and infrastructure.

Temporary Porcelain Clad Pavilion Addresses The Notion of Ornamentation in Architecture

Courtesy of Alexander Wolhoff
Courtesy of Alexander Wolhoff

The Pavilion d’Eau, designed by EPFL architecture student Alexander Wolhoff, was constructed in Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The pavilion is a product of six months of research, prototyping, and coordination with different local and academic organizations done in conjunction with LHT3 labs. The exterior of the octagon pavilion has a structural aesthetic, while the interior -- only accessed by wading in the water -- is ornamental, clad in handmade ceramic tiles.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site municipality of Saint-Saphorin en Lavaux allowed for the temporary pavilion in the waters of Lake Geneva. The project is designed to touch the landscape lightly, not affecting the natural lake bed. The pavilion is comprised of materials including lake stones, wood, and porcelain tiles. To ensure a minimal and reversible impact on the site, the footings of the pavilion are made of seven gabions, metal cages filled with stones collected from the lake.

Courtesy of Alexander Wolhoff Courtesy of Alexander Wolhoff Courtesy of Alexander Wolhoff Courtesy of Alexander Wolhoff + 20

In This Semi-Derelict Montenegrin Prison, 7 Temporary Structures Untangle the Spatial Possibilities of Nautical Rope

Kotor is an ancient fortified city located in a secluded bay on Montenegro's Adriatic coast. It has been Venetian, Austrian and—most recently—part of the former Yugoslavia. Today, as part of an independent nation, it's narrow streets, small squares, and warm stone buildings define the character of a UNESCO World Heritage Site which, each summer, becomes one vast cruise terminal as tourists arrive in their droves to bask in it's dry heat and spectacular natural environment. At this time, however, it also plays host to KotorAPSS (Architectural Prison Summer School) – an eight day-long gathering dedicated to infusing contemporary cultural life into the city by means of temporary architectural installations.

Project: "Scope". Image © Luka Boskovic Project: "Corona". Image © Luka Boskovic Team: "Oculus". Image © Luka Boskovic Developing the projects in Kotor, Montenegro. Image © Luka Boskovic + 31

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.

Asmara. Image© <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asmara_(8351468351).jpg'>Wikimedia user David Stanley</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en'>CC BY 2.0</a> Teen Darwaza, one of the walled city's gates. Image© <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Teen-Darwaza.jpg'>Wikimedia user Nichalp</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 2.5</a> Tarnowskie Góry Lead-Silver-Zinc Mine. Image© <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/polandmfa/8231434027/in/photolist-dxofyk-dxof8t-dxofCX-gShjMH-o3Ri8H-a2fT2K-9Y1Ekt-6WLC5j-a2iJ1o-a2g2di-9Y1Dp6-a2fSfa-a2fMXe-a2fJG2-a2iUvf-a2fNz4-a2g3eK-a2fQqP-a2g444-a2fKVM-a2ign3-dxtGhJ-dxofZr-dxtGzo-dxtGdQ-dxtFLh-dxtGnd-a2iZsQ-a2iBVE-9Y1EPD-a2fKmH-9Y1D4B-o5VJyp-a2fLX6-o43tas-9Y4wxq-9Y1RHH-9Y4Amq-9Y1Gpz-a2iAVG-a2fZba-9Y1QVc-9Y4BoQ-9Y4DXW-9Y1HAR-a2feFn-a2inqN-a2fjzR-a2fsAr-a2fqk4'>Flickr user PolandMFA</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/'>CC BY-ND 2.0</a> Student Halls at the ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau . Image© <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bernau_bei_Berlin_ADGB_Schule_Wohntrakte_vorne.jpg'>Wikimedia user Dabbelju</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> + 9

AD Classics: Himeji Castle / Ikeda Terumasa

With its gleaming white walls and elegantly terraced roofs, it is easy to forget that Himeji Castle was built as a fortress . Standing on two hilltops in the city of Himeji, the old fortress, also known as Himeji-jo, is the greatest surviving example of Japanese castle architecture from the early years of the Shogunate, which governed the island nation from the late 1500s to the 19th Century. Although never tested in battle, the castle’s elaborate defensive measures represent the best strategic design the period produced. While these measures have since been rendered obsolete, the same cannot be said for the castle’s soaring, pristine aesthetic, which earned it the nickname Shirasagi-jo – “Castle of the White Heron.”

Courtesy of Flickr user Ben Kubota (licensed under CC BY 2.0) Courtesy of Flickr user alisdair (licensed under CC BY 2.0) A period image depicts the labor needed to construct Ikeda Terumasa’s grand new Himeji Castle. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user ブレイズマン (Public Domain) This map from the Himeji City Castle Laboratory Collection depicts the concentric lines of defense surrounding Himeji Castle. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user ブレイズマン (Public Domain) + 14

Contemporary Housing to Reinforce Finland's UNESCO World Heritage Fortress

When placed in a historic landscape, contemporary architecture requires a layered approach. It must often strike a respectful, vernacular tone, whilst embracing the innovative, functional hallmarks of a modern building. This balance has particular relevance at Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, located off the coast of Helsinki, Finland. Throughout its 300-year history, it was once occupied by the armies of Sweden, Russia and Finland – a rich history attracting UNESCO World Heritage status, and almost one million annual visitors. The site is more than a museum, however, but a living district of Helsinki with 800 inhabitants and 500 jobs.

Against the prerequisites of past and present, Heikkinen & Kangasaho Architects have combined sharp, functional modernity with respectful, restrained simplicity in a new housing scheme to sit amongst Suomenlinna’s historic fortifications.

Perspective view. Image Courtesy of Heikkinen & Kangasaho View from the sea. Image Courtesy of Heikkinen & Kangasaho Section. Image Courtesy of Heikkinen & Kangasaho Site plan. Image Courtesy of Heikkinen & Kangasaho + 7

Pompeii’s Most Famous House, the Villa of Mysteries, is at Risk of Collapse

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.”

© Lure [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons © User:MatthiasKabel [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons © User:MatthiasKabel [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons © User:MatthiasKabel [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons + 15

See the 17 Le Corbusier Projects Named as UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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.