Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and Egypt-based Raafat Miller Consulting (RMC) have been selected by OSL for Entertainment Projects to reimagine the visitor experience at one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the historic Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza, Egypt. SOM will serve as lead designer of the project's concept, design, and masterplan, which will feature the transformation of the existing show facilities into a world-class visitor experience with a program that ensures environmental and preservation measures.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Latest Architecture and News
Skyscrapers are an unmissable characteristic of contemporary settlements. From São Paolo to New York, from Seoul to Dubai – these towering structures are a ubiquitous part of the urban fabric. The conventional image one has of these structures is of curtain-walled facades, but in Yemen – an ancient example goes against this trend. Central Yemen is home to the city of Shibam, surrounded by a fortified wall. It’s also home to a dazzling example of architectural ingenuity – tower houses that date back to the 16th century, stretching up to seven stories high.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unleashed a major humanitarian and refugee crisis, with 4.2 million people fleeing into neighbouring countries and 6.5 displaced internally. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 18 million people are projected to become affected in the near future with the current scale and direction of the ongoing military violence. In addition to the threat to human lives, Ukraine’s culture is also at risk, as cities and historic buildings are being destroyed. In March, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has expressed concern over the damage caused to historic landmarks in Ukraine and called for the protection of its cultural heritage. The following are some of Ukraine’s most prominent architectural landmarks, which are now in danger of being destroyed amid the conflict.
UNESCO Expresses Deep Concern Over Ukrainian Landmarks and Takes Action to Protect Endangered Heritage
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has expressed concern over the damage caused to historic landmarks in Ukraine and called for the protection of its cultural heritage. At the same time, the organization has taken action within its capabilities to help safeguard the endangered sites. Ukraine is home to seven World Heritage sites, including the 11th-century Saint-Sophia Cathedral and the entire ensemble of the Historic Centre of Lviv. In addition, several sites in the recently damaged cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv were on the tentative list for potential nomination to World Heritage status.
Architecture has always centered on permanence and ephemerality. Defined by material conditions, how we build is closely tied to what we preserve and how we conceptualize the future. Furthering international cooperation in education, the arts, the sciences, and culture, UNESCO is an organization that continues to examine the relationship between history and growth, preservation and change. As architecture, landscapes and cities become threatened by the climate crisis and unrest, cultural context becomes paramount.
The Republic of Poland boasts diverse geographical territories and cultural tribes that span thousands of years. Its cities and towns reflect a whole spectrum of styles, from Romanesque architecture to Gothic Revival and postmodernist residential and commercial structures. In addition to its unique topography and rich urban fabric, the country houses 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One site, however, has stood out from the rest and given the country a royal status. Tucked beneath the Malinowka stream, just outside the southern city of Krakow, is one of the world's oldest and largest hand-chiseled underground mines that has been transformed into an expansive, all-inclusive complex. From a naturally-healing health center to a secluded church and an underground bungee jumping platform, this colossal adaptive reuse project is the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
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.
Association Cap Moderne have announced that the restoration of Eileen Gray’s modernist villa E-1027, along with other projects on the Cap Moderne site, such as Le Corbusier’s Cabanon and Unités de Camping, and l’Etoile de Mer restaurant, have been completed and are now open to visitors. The site is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered as one of the must-see places to discover in the region, welcoming more than 10,000 visitors a year.
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.
The Colosseum will undergo a renovation with a new, retractable floor platform. In ancient Rome, thousands gathered to watch enslaved gladiators, criminals, and wild animals fight to the death. These fighters and caged animals would emerge from the ground through secret tunnels beneath the arena’s wooden and sand-covered floor. Colosseum director Alfonsina Russo told the Times that the plan is to host concerts and theater productions on the new floor.
Situated on Ticino's rocky peaks are the historic Medieval Castles of Bellinzona: Montebello, Sasso Corbaro, and Castelgrande. And while all three castles and their fortifications have become part of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, it is not only the ancient walls that leave visitors enchanted, but the gateways that leads to them.
Architectural photographer Simone Bossi decided to solely capture the castle's entrance, displaying how a dialogue between the organic forms of nature and refined man-made walls can be as majestic as a historic fortress.
Delicately excavated from the natural grounds of Jordan’s Wadi Rum, Jordanian architect Rasem Kamal transformed the phrase of “form follows function” into “subtraction follows function”, emphasizing the relationship between external form and internal space with a resort that promises a sanctuary both above and underground.
In the newly-released video of the proposal, the architect uncovers the hidden resort and takes viewers on an enchanting walkthrough of the proposed Wadi Rum Sanctuary Resort. Kamal complements the desert’s jagged landscape with the resort’s subtle architecture, letting the structure blend seamlessly with its surroundings.
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.
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.