The restoration of Wat Prayoon is among this year's Unesco Heritage Award winners
Restore of the principal chedi at Wat Prayurawongsawas Worawihan on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River has won a Unesco Award of Excellence.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Bangkok office announced last week that the work underway on the reliquary stupa at what is more commonly known as Wat Prayoon had been honoured in its 2013 Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
An international panel of conservation experts made the selection in June after assessing 47 nominees in 16 countries. Find out more at www.UnescoBkk.org/culture/heritageawards. The other winners:
AWARDS OF DISTINCTION
THE GREAT SERAI, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
The 19th-century merchants’ palace, which once served as the centre of the city’s caravan trade and now houses the new Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture, has been returned to its former eclectic grandeur by what the judges termed “a valiant rescue”.
Technical solutions not only conserved the original materials and traditional spaces but also retained the historical context. The engagement of the community in the process has renewed pride of place and raised awareness about cultural heritage.
LAL CHIMNEY COMPOUND, MUMBAI, INDIA
The block of late-19th-early-20th century urban housing had fallen into “ruinous condition” and was slated for demolition, but conservators managed to retain its unique architectural elements and original materials and ornamental details – as well as its original function. “The historic continuity of the community has been ensured,” Unesco says.
KHAPLU PALACE, BALTISTAN, PAKISTAN
Once the former seat of government and one of Baltistan’s finest royal residences, Khaplu Palace has been restored from “a dire state of dilapidation”. The work addressed structural and landscaping challenges to retain authenticity and reintegrated the palace as a vital part of the community as a small-scale heritage hotel and Baltistani Folk Museum.
“The upgrade of the adjacent village’s infrastructure and the creation of new livelihood opportunities have ensured improved wellbeing for local inhabitants in this remote rural area.”
AWARDS OF MERIT
MARYBOROUGH RAILWAY STATION, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
This “fine and rare” example of a Victorian-era station built in the Anglo-Dutch style with distinctive red brick had suffered from long-term neglect and earlier inappropriate repair work. Meticulous research and conservation re-secured the character and enhanced its continuing function.
ENJOYING SNOW YARD, BEIJING, CHINA
Originally built as an imperial library, Enjoying Snow Yard is once again open to the public as a calligraphy museum following its successful restoration.
The philosophy of “minimal intervention and maximum retention” guided the holistic reinstatement of the site’s aesthetic, cultural and historical values. Artisans restored the original timber structure of the main hall through the application of traditional building materials and methods, used in combination with new |techniques.
TAI O HERITAGE HOTEL, HONG KONG, CHINA
Through a pioneering public-private initiative, the once abandoned Tai O Police Station has been given a new lease on life as a hotel. Citizens including former occupants assisted in an extensive cultural-mapping effort that was a boon to the |restorers.
ROYAL BOMBAY YACHT CLUB RESIDENTIAL CHAMBERS, MUMBAI, INDIA
This project has renewed |a distinguished Neo-Gothic |architectural monument and |one of the city’s most prominent coastal landmarks. There is a |high level of technical competence and careful attention to |authenticity, “characterised by the retention of original spatial configuration and excellent craftsmanship in treating historical finishes and fixtures”.
OTAKI TOWN HALL, CHIBA PREFECTURE, JAPAN
This 1959 Modern heritage building has sensitively restored a once-overlooked structure that was at risk of demolition, reinvigorating a historic public space for continued use. The project also introduced structural seismic reinforcement so it now meets present-day building codes.
The credit belongs to multiple public and private stakeholders and the foresight of the Japan Institute of Architects.
HISTORIC BUILDINGS IN DUONG LAM, HANOI, VIETNAM
Five buildings in this village that showcase the value of vernacular wooden architecture in Vietnam – increasingly threatened by deterioration, neglect and eventual loss – benefited from careful documentation and traditional construction techniques. Local craftsmen trained over the course of the project will handle their ongoing |maintenance.
SAIL MAKER’S SHED, BROOME, WESTERN AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA
This late-19th century structure is small in scale yet significant in terms of heritage. It’s one of the last remaining buildings associated with the local pearling industry. Saved from demolition, it’s now part of the Broome Museum.
LOST BOMB SHELTER OF THE SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI, HANOI, VIETNAM
The restoration revealed yet another layer in the rich history of the Metropole Hotel, one of Hanoi’s most notable buildings. Forgotten for decades until its rediscovery in 2011, the bomb shelter has been preserved in its original condition, with the unobtrusive addition of new mechanical and electrical gear to make it accessible and safe for |public viewing.