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2003 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award Winners

Guangyu Ancestral Hall 03

Astana 08

Cangqiao 01

Catholic Cathedral 02

Virtuous Bridge 11

Water Town 01

Dalongdong 03

Gota de Leche 03

Medina 04

Press Release: English

The UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific announced today that Guangyu Ancestral Hall (Conghua Province, Guangdong Province, China) has been honoured with the Award of Excellence in the UNESCO 2003 Asia Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.  The two Awards of Distinction went to the Water Towns of the Yangtze River (Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces, China) and the Astana of Syed Mir Muahmmad (Ghanche District, Baltistan, Pakistan).  Three Awards of Merit and three Honourable Mention prizes were also announced today.

A total of 22 project entries were submitted from nine countries and administrative areas in Asia Pacific that included five religious buildings, five institutions, two residential buildings, four commercial projects, three urban conservation programmes, one memorial, one bridge and one botanical garden.  

A panel of international conservation experts in architecture, urban planning, landscape design and heritage conservation conducted the selection process. The jury panel noted that the range of proposals received this year point to the increasing momentum and level of conservation in Asia and the Pacific.  All winning entries demonstrated sound understanding of the issues of conservation in relation to the structure’s cultural, social, historical, and architectural significance.  In addition, they all made an important impact in the surrounding environment; consequently contributing to the cultural and historical continuum of the community.

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

Award of Excellence

Guangyu Ancestral Hall

Guangdong Province, China

In the midst of the rapidly-changing Pearl River delta region, the restoration of Guangyu Ancestral Hall stands out as an exemplar for local heritage conservation. The cooperation of the villagers, government agencies and technical advisors has overcome the challenges of limited funding, resulting in a building which displays thoughtful choices in restoration and a high level of traditional craftsmanship. By consciously adhering to the principles of the Venice Charter and the Nara Document on Authenticity, the project team has successfully demonstrated methodical rigour and sensitivity in documenting, assessing and interpreting the building’s heritage value. The widely inclusive and transparent approach to mobilizing support for the restoration project ensures that this historic building will continue to play a key role in the community for many years to come. In carefully preserving the layers of historical change seen in the building, the Lu clan ancestral hall has not only become a living record of the history of Qiangang village, but has also captured the sweep of Chinese history from the Song dynasty to the current People’s Republic.

Award of Distinction

Astana of Syed Mir Muhammad

Baltistan, Pakistan

The noteworthy restoration of the 300-year old mausoleum of Syed Mir Muhammad returns an important architectural and community landmark to its former prominence in the northern Pakistan highland settlement of Khaplu. The building’s aged patina and historic character have been carefully retained through skillful and sensitive conservation techniques. The meticulous documentation and low-intervention approach in stabilizing the building and repairing deteriorated parts demonstrate great respect and maximum retention of the original building fabric. A modest approach using local materials and construction techniques ensures that the restoration work is carried out in accordance with vernacular architectural practices, and can be maintained sustainably under the stewardship of the local villagers. In seeking to revive local building crafts as part of the overall conservation agenda, the project demonstrates how heritage preservation can become a catalyst for local economic development.

Water Towns of the Yangtze River

Zhouzhuang, Tongli, Luzhi Jiangsu, Nanxun, Wuzhen and Xitang Zhejiang Province, China

The large-scale conservation planning of the historic water towns at the mouth of the Yangtze River sets an important milestone in the protection of living cultural landscapes. The comprehensive approach adopted by the project allows for thorough understanding and interpretation of the area’s natural and cultural heritage at both the local and regional levels. Operating with an overall conservation masterplan, a clear policy framework and sound methodology, the project restores the authentic significance and function of the towns’ waterways and historic settlements, while accommodating modern needs and anticipated growth. Major investment by the government for public works and by residents for individual structures creates a commendable model of sustainable long-term public-private partnership. The ambitious scope of the project promises to have a major impact on shaping future development in the towns as well as conservation practice throughout China.

Award of Merit

Cangqiao Historical Street

Shaoxing city, China

The urban renewal and architectural conservation of Cangqiao Historical Street marks an important first step in protecting the unique amphibious landscape of historic Shaoxing. The conservation project sets rigorous standards in documenting and preserving the town’s built heritage, and pays great attention to material authenticity. The project thoroughly addresses both the public realm of streets and canals as well as the private domain of houses and shops through comprehensive infrastructure upgrades and uniform design guidelines for property owners. By providing improved urban services while respecting the historic fabric, the conservation project successfully demonstrates the viability of the historic town as a living and vibrant showcase of Chinese heritage. 

The Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury

Adelaide, Australia

The sophisticated conversion of the historic Adelaide Treasury Building into a luxury hotel complex successfully demonstrates the commercial viability of reusing historic building stock. The project displays exemplary technical standards of conservation work, with a thorough archaeological survey that has guided the restoration and interpretation work. Modern services have been sensitively inserted, respecting the integrity of the original fabric. By opening the building to the general public, this conservation project has enabled appreciation for cultural heritage to develop and has secured an important chapter in the history of South Australia.

The Virtuous Bridge

Medan, Indonesia

The successful restoration of the Virtuous Bridge stands as a moving testimony to the unprecedented cooperation between residents, businesses and government agencies in the multicultural city of Medan. Careful historical research has been translated into a thoughtful restoration and interpretation scheme that is firmly rooted in the community. In the process of restoring the historic condition of the bridge, the people of Medan have also uncovered an important chapter in their shared history and awakened a new consciousness about their local heritage. The newly restored bridge has become a unique symbol of the city’s multicultural legacy, and is a model for future community-driven efforts in conserving local heritage throughout the region.

Honourable Mention

Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Hong Kong SAR, China

The preservation of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception has revitalized this religious landmark, which has a history of continuous use for 115 years. The non-intrusive investigation of the building and the systematic process of testing possible solutions displays technical competence and a keen understanding of the complexity of working with historic buildings. By undertaking necessary repair work and upgrading the services in the Cathedral, the conservation project has not only consolidated the physical historic fabric of the building, but has also renewed the spiritual life of Hong Kong’s Roman Catholic community.

Dalongdong Baoan Temple

Taipei, China

The conservation of the 1805 Dalongdong Baoan Temple represents a major technical accomplishment and is to be commended for its ambitious scope and the depth of its conservation work. The project has taken a balanced approach between using modern scientific conservation methods and traditional architectural and decorative materials and skills, in order to recover as much of the historic building fabric as possible. The meticulous attention to detail and the generous sponsorship of the project has resulted in the comprehensive conservation of the structure’s religious and architectural significance.

Gota de Leche

Manila, Philippines

The careful restoration of the 1917 Gota de Leche building provides a welcome model for preserving Manila’s rich architectural and social history. The removal of unsympathetic additions, the restoration of the original landscaping, and the use of traditional crafts in repairing the dilapidated building have been undertaken within a clear and low-intervention conservation framework. Returning the building to its original appearance and prominence in the University Belt neighborhood provides a worthy and appropriate setting for the sustained operation of Gota de Leche’s charitable programmes, while demonstrating a commendable commitment to advancing the local conservation agenda.