The Blue House Cluster project in Hong Kong won the Award of Excellence of in this year’s Unesco AsiaPacific Awards.
The Blue House Cluster project in Hong Kong won the Award of Excellence of in this year’s Unesco AsiaPacific Awards.

The old, the new and the restored

Art November 06, 2017 01:00

By The Nation

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Three 20th-century shophouse blocks in Hong Kong are recognised with the Unesco Award of Excellence

A REVITALISATION of the working class “Blue House Cluster” in Hong Kong, China, has received the Award of Excellence in this year’s Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for cultural heritage conservation.

Sixteen projects from six countries – Australia, China, India, Iran, New Zealand, and Singapore were also recognised in this year’s Heritage Awards by an international panel of conservation experts.

The Blue House Cluster project in Hong Kong won the Award of Excellence of in this year’s Unesco AsiaPacific Awards.

“The jury was impressed by the heroic nature of the conservation projects, especially those that underscore the importance of protecting heritage that is rooted in the least powerful segments of society,” says Duong Bich Hanh, the jury’s chairman and chief of Unesco Bangkok’s Culture Unit.

The jury described the Blue House Cluster, three 20th-century shophouse blocks in Hong Kong, as “a triumphant validation for a truly inclusive approach to urban conservation. A broad alliance, spanning from tenants to social workers and preservationists, waged a grassroots advocacy campaign to save the last remaining working-class community in the fast-gentrifying enclave of Wan Chai. This unprecedented civic effort to protect marginalised local heritage in one of the world’s most high-pressure real estate markets is an inspiration for other embattled urban districts in the region and beyond.” 

The restoration of late 19th-century workers’ cottages along Brookman and Moir Streets in Perth of Australia won the Award of Distinction.

The Brookman and Moir Streets Precinct project in Perth of Australia was recognised with an Award of Distinction. The restoration of late 19th-century workers’ cottages along Brookman and Moir Streets has thoughtfully revived a modest but historically significant housing district dating back to the Western Australian gold boom. Individual homeowners undertook the loving refurbishment of the simple Federation Queen Anne semi-detached dwellings, which had suffered from years of unsympathetic change and dilapidation. 

With financial support from the City of Vincent and the local Heritage Council and technical guidance from conservation professionals, the original architectural character and material palette of each red brick building was carefully recovered. Catalysed by the renovation of a single house that went on to inspire nearby residents, the project has revitalised the streetscape and returned a sense of community to the area. The revival of the Brookman-Moir precinct underscores the importance of recognising and safeguarding everyday urban fabric as part of a holistic strategy in sustaining historic urban landscapes.

This year saw a surge in submissions for the New Design in Heritage Context category. Three projects, two from China and one from Iran, were recognised in this category, the highest number of winners since it was launched in 2005. The award recognises newly built structures that demonstrate outstanding design well integrated into historic contexts.

The transformation of the 1950s Cosmic Porcelain Factory in Jingdezhen, China into a museum and mixed-use facility won the Award of New Design in Heritage Context.


Jingdezhen Ceramic Industry Museum in Jingdezhen, China is one of three winning projects in this category. The transformation of the 1950s Cosmic Porcelain Factory into a museum and mixed-use facility showcases Jingdezhen’s fame as a world-renowned ceramic production centre and opens up the former factory space for broad public use.

Based on the principle of minimal intervention, the choice of a streamlined modern industrial aesthetic responds to the mid-twentieth century industrial architecture of the historic factory building, providing a muted backdrop that allows the kiln remains to take the spotlight. The contemporary materials palette creates a dramatic counterpoint to the original brick structures. The new design respects the form and scale of the former factory and creates innovative opportunities to interact with the famous ceramic production facilities.

The jury selected projects from 43 submissions, including 31 in the Conservation category and 12 for New Design. 

Other Awardees are: 

Award of Distinction:

-Brookman and Moir Streets Precinct, Perth, Australia

-Holy Trinity Cathedral, Shanghai, China

Award of Merit:

-Christ Church, Mumbai, India

-Royal Bombay Opera House, Mumbai, India

-Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, India

-Great Hall and Clock Tower Buildings, Arts Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand

Honourable Mention:

-Bomonjee Hormarjee Wadia Fountain and Clock Tower, Mumbai, India

-Gateways of Gohad Fort, Gohad, India

-Haveli Dharampura, Delhi, India

-Wellington Fountain, Mumbai, India

-Aftab Cultural House, Isfahan, Iran

-Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and Rectory Building, Singapore

New Design in Heritage Context:

-Jingdezhen Ceramic Industry Museum, Jingdezhen, China

-Macha Village, Gansu Province, China

-Persian Gulf University – Faculty of Art & Architecture, Bulshehr, Iran

Further information about the Unesco Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation and this year’s winning entries can be found at:

The call for entries for the 2018 UNESCO Heritage Awards will be made at the end of 2017. Details will be available on the awards website.