UNESCO Bangkok / Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education

Montira Unakul

UNESCO Bangkok

920 Sukhumvit Road Bangkok 10110 Thailand


Asia - Pacific
Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation 2010

UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation

Throughout the Asia-Pacific region, the role of private individuals and institutions in safeguarding built structures is paramount, as buildings and sites are largely in private or civic ownership.  Recognizing this, UNESCO seeks to encourage private sector involvement and public-private collaboration in heritage conservation. 

The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation were established as a strategic way to recognize the achievement of the private sector and public-private initiatives in successfully restoring structures of heritage value in the region.   Through the programme, UNESCO encourages policies and practices which result in the preservation of the unique heritage values and historic significance of our communities.  UNESCO believes that lauding private efforts will encourage others to undertake conservation projects, using private means or by seeking public-private partnerships.

In the ten years since the time the Awards programme was established in 2000, UNESCO has received 392 entries from 23 countries and territories, spanning a wide range of conservation projects from private residences to palace complexes.  A total of 132 winners have been recognized, along with 5 Jury Commendation for Innovation. 

Many of the projects have set technical and social benchmarks for conservation in the region, while acting as catalysts for local preservation activity. All winning entries demonstrated sound understanding of the issues of conservation in relation to the cultural, social, historical, and architectural significance of the building or complex.  In addition, the projects have had an important impact in terms of stimulating further conservation works and making a contribution to cultural continuity in their respective communities. 

The selection process for an award is rigorous and is conducted annually by a panel of international conservation experts in architecture, urban planning, landscape design and heritage conservation, all of whom practice professionally in the Asia-Pacific region.

To qualify for the Awards, structures must be more than 50 years old, the restoration must have been completed within the last ten years and structures must have been in viable use for at least one year.  The project must have been carried out with private sector input in the form of ownership, funding or other support.  Public-private partnership projects are also encouraged to apply for the awards programme.

Since the establishment of the programme in 2000, the selection criteria have evolved; greater emphasis has been placed on the assessment and understanding of the significance of a place.  Not only has this encouraged applicants to clearly define the heritage values of projects, it has led to a fuller interpretation of the projects, thus helping to generate greater awareness of the importance of heritage conservation in the region.

Entries to the Awards are examined in terms of the extent to which they demonstrate excellence in a wide-ranging set of criteria. 

The first group of criteria reflects how well the project undertakers understand the significance of the place by showing "respect for the building and spirit of place".  These include:
a)    the articulation of the structure's heritage values in order to convey the spirit of place through the conservation work;
b)    appropriate use or adaptation of the structure;
c)    the interpretation of the cultural, social, historical and architectural significance of the structure(s) in the conservation work;

The second group of criteria concerns the "technical achievement" achieved by the projects:
d)    the understanding of the technical issues of conservation/restoration in interpreting the structure's significance;
e)    the use and quality control of appropriate building, artisan, and conservation techniques;
f)    the use of appropriate materials;
g)    how well any added elements or creative technical solutions respect the character and inherent spatial quality of the structure(s);

The third group of criteria requires projects to demonstrate substantial "social and political impact" on conservation policy making:
h)    the manner in which the process and the final product contribute to the surrounding environment and the local community's cultural and historical continuum;
i)    the influence of the project on conservation practice and policy locally, nationally, regionally or internationally;
j)    the ongoing socio-economic viability and relevance of the project, and provision for its future use and maintenance.

In the 2010, a total of 33 entries, from 14 countries in the region, were submitted for consideration. The conservation project entries include museums, hotels, cultural institutions, educational institutions, religious sites, industrial sites, public institutions, residential buildings, urban districts and islands.

The 2010 Award of Excellence was granted to Hong San See Temple in Singapore.  The two Awards of Distinction went to the Red Brick Warehouses in Yokohama, Japan and Gulabpur Khanqah in Skardu, Pakistan.

The three Awards of Merit include the Fu'long Taoist Temple in Sichuan, China; the Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad, India and the Old Houses in the World Heritage Fort of Galle in Sri Lanka. Three Honourable Mentions were also announced. They are the Ballaarat Mechanics'' Institute in Ballarat, Australia; North Xinjiao Street in Zhejiang, China and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum) in Mumbai, India.

The Jury praised the Award of Excellence winner, Hong San See Temple Singapore, for reviving an important icon of Minnan temple architecture of the late Qing dynasty which is a living heritage landmark for the Lam Ann settlers and the Singapore community as a whole. The project's rigorous conservation methodology has ensured that the authentic structure and fabric of the building are well-preserved. The community-based approach to restoration at Hong San See Temple stands to have a major impact in shifting the paradigm of conservation policy and practice in Singapore and around the region.

The first Award of Distinction winner, the Red Brick Warehouse in Yokohama, Japan, has witnessed to the history of industrial development of Japan over the past century and was revived as a vigorous civic space, allowing the citizens of Yokohama to retrace their city's industrial heritage while enjoying a modern lifestyle complex. Through a successful partnership between the private and public sectors at all levels, the Red Brick Warehouse has become a catalyst for urban regeneration in the historic Yokohama port area.
The second Award of Distinction, the Gulabpur Khanqah in Shigar, Skardu, Pakistan, has saved this 331-year old historic monument which served as the long-time centre of social, cultural, religious activities for the surrounding communities. The project demonstrates the inclusion of yet another building typology in the grassroots conservation movement already actively underway in Shigar. A great sense of commitment was demonstrated by the Gulabpur community, which makes the project an examplar of community-led architectural restoration undertaken with a view towards sustaining living cultural traditions.



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