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2014 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award Winners

Award of Distiction - Saryazd Citadel Yazd Iran

Award of Merit - Exeter Farm Glenwood New South Wales Australia

Award of Merit - Frankton Boatshed Queenstown New Zealand

Award of Merit - Phraya Si Thammathirat Residence Bangkok Thailand

Award of Merit - Shri Sakhargad Niwasini Devi Temple Complex Kinhai Village Maharashtra India

Award of Merit - Wak Hai Cheng Bio Singapore

8. MENTION Cape Inscription Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters Shark Bay Western Australia Australia

Honourable Mention - De Driekleur Bandung Indonesia

Honourable Mention - Esplanade House Mumbai India

Honourable Mention - Gali Surjan Singh Lahore Pakistan

Honourable Mention - Nanjing Yihe Mansions Jiangsu Province China

Honourable Mention - Rottnest Island WWII Coastal Defence Establishment Australia

Honourable Mention - Shahzada Hussain Mausoleum Karez Village Helmand Province Afghanistan

Jury Commendation - Lucky Shophouse Singapore

Press Releases: English | Chinese | ไทย

A total of 14 projects from 10 countries, including Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, New Zealand and Thailand, have been recognized in this year’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

A panel of international conservation experts met in June to review 46 entries from across the Asia-Pacific region.

“Although there was no Award of Excellence given this year there was an overall increase in projects awarded which gives hope for a general rise in the standards of heritage conservation by non-state actors within the Asia-Pacific region,”  said Tim Curtis, Chair of the Jury and Chief of the Culture Unit, UNESCO Bangkok.

The restoration of the Saryazd Citadel, Yazd, Islamic Republic of Iran has been honoured with an Award of Distinction. The award recognized the commitment made by private sector partnerships to protect a unique historic desert complex, while providing significant socio-economic benefits for the local community through renewed employment opportunities.  

Other Awardees included:

Awards of Merit: 

  • Exeter Farm, Glenwood, New South Wales, Australia
  • Shri Sakhargad Niwasini Devi Temple Complex, Kinhai Village, Maharashtra, India
  • Frankton Boatshed, Queenstown, New Zealand
  • Wak Hai Cheng Bio, Singapore
  • Phraya Si Thammathirat Residence, Bangkok, Thailand                              

Honourable Mentions:

  • Shahzada Hussain Mausoleum, Karez Village, Helmand Province, Afghanistan
  • Cape Inscription Lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters, Shark Bay, Western Australia, Australia
  • Rottnest Island World War II Coastal Defences, Rottnest Island, Western Australia, Australia
  • Nanjing Yihe Mansions, Jiangsu Province, China
  • Esplanade House, Mumbai, India
  • De Driekleur, Bandung, Indonesia
  • Gali Surjan Singh, Lahore, Pakistan

Jury Commendation for Innovation:

  • Lucky Shophouse, Singapore

The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme recognizes the efforts of private individuals and organizations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region. By recognizing private efforts to restore and adapt historic properties the awards aim to encourage other property owners to undertake conservation projects within their communities, either independently or by seeking public-private partnerships.

The winners were selected based on how the projects reflected a clear understanding and application of various criteria, such as the articulation of the spirit of place, technical achievement, appropriate use or adaption, and the project’s contribution to the surrounding environment as well as the local community’s cultural and historical continuity.

Eligible projects must be more than 50 years old and the restoration must have been completed within the past 10 years.  Buildings with a new use must have also been in viable use for at least one year from the date of the awards announcement. 

The 2014 and 2015 cycles of the Heritage Awards are generously supported by the Sino-Ocean Charity Foundation (Beijing, People’s Republic of China): 

High-resolution images of this year's award recipients are available here:

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

The Call for Entries for the 2015 UNESCO Heritage Awards shall be made in October 2014, and further details will be available on the awards website.

Award of Distinction

Saryazd Citadel

Yazd, Islamic Republic of Iran 

The impressive restoration of the Saryazd Citadel has rescued an isolated desert complex which had suffered from looting and neglect, returning the landmark to its former prominence. The ambitious scope of the project encompassed caravanserais, bath houses and a castle which comprise the adobe ensemble built over several dynasties.

The conception, planning, and execution of work were the result of exemplary cooperation between a local foundation and community partners, including local artisans. A carefully conceived master plan provided step-by-step guidance throughout the project, from evaluation to repair, allowing for maximum retention of both historic fabric as well as later additions deemed of historic significance. The use of traditional construction materials and techniques and the protection of the surrounding landscape have ensured that the citadel and its setting have been conserved with a high degree of authenticity.

Award of Merit

Exeter Farm

Glenwood, New South Wales, Australia

The restoration of Exeter Farm demonstrates the effectiveness of combining government investment with local community efforts in the conservation of vulnerable historic properties.  Utilizing the Australian government’s Endangered Houses Fund, the Historic Houses Trust rescued the severely deteriorated mid-nineteenth-century farmstead with the aim of returning the building to private ownership. Extensive restoration work included lifting the timber-slab house, constructing new sills and piers, as well as repairing, replacing and consolidating existing fabric as required. Later materials and additions out of keeping with the historic character of the property were removed. Occupied since 2013 as a private residence, the farmhouse stands as a well-preserved example of a rare domestic building in a remnant rural setting.    

Shri Sakhargad Niwasini Devi Temple Complex

Kinhai Village, Maharashtra, India

The striking transformation of the Shri Sakhargad Niwasini Devi Temple testifies to a community’s commitment to the revitalization of a unique religious monument.  Funded principally by the Kulkarni family, descendants of the temple’s original builders, the project required wide-ranging repairs counteracting centuries of weathering, biological growth, and vandalism. Extensive research revealed the complexity of past interventions, providing a template for informed conservation decisions. Paint analysis disclosed the vibrant palette of the original monument, a key factor in selecting the colours and designs for the temple’s renewal in a manner consistent with the community’s expectations for a living religious monument.  Upgrading of the complex helps ensure that the site will continue to serve as a place of devotion and veneration for many years to come.

Frankton Boatshed

Queenstown, New Zealand

Saved from demolition, the Frankton Boatshed complex is an outstanding example of a historic property regenerated through a combination of broad-based stakeholder involvement and practical business acumen.  A citizen’s group mobilized public awareness about the historic buildings and secured legal protection and funds for the renovation work.  Dating to 1870, with various later additions, the boatshed and associated buildings were restored after in-depth research and investigations were undertaken.  The facility continues to serve as a boat storage and repair yard, while new functions such as a café and restaurant anchor its new role in the community at large.

Wak Hai Cheng Bio


Threatened by termites, moisture penetration and neglect, the Wak Hai Bio Temple became the focus of a timely conservation and renewal effort due to the intervention of the Ngee Ann Kongsi, the temple’s traditional custodians.  Dating to the earliest years of Chinese migration to Singapore, the historic building faced an array of problems, including structural instability and a succession of inappropriate repairs over many years. Guided by longstanding international restoration principles and sensitivity to retaining the building’s patina, the historic architectural ornamentation, including gold gilding and timber details, were methodically and meticulously conserved.  An icon for Singapore’s Teochew community, the restored temple now continues its historic function as a place of worship and a symbol of community pride.

Phraya Si Thammathirat Residence

Bangkok, Thailand

The restoration of the early twentieth century Phraya Si Thammathirat Residence in Bangkok’s Pathumwan district is a prime example of multiple-stakeholder commitment to the preservation of a building with significant heritage value. The owner, Thailand’s Crown Property Bureau, and tenant, the Thai-Chinese Education and Culture Foundation, enlisted conservation experts to research the history of the building, a process that shed light on the broader context of the heritage site and revealed its Arts and Crafts-style decoration, notably a suite of intricate mural paintings and decorative elements. The project renewed the landscape setting and exterior finishes and reinstated the rich interior treatment of the former private house, now housing the Sitabutr Bamrung School. After restoration, the property enjoys a vibrant role as a center for cultural exchange and education for the Thai-Chinese community.  

Honourable Mention

Shahzada Hussain Mausoleum

Karez Village, Helmand Province, Afghanistan

The restoration of the mausoleum dedicated to Shahzada Hussain represented a pioneering conservation effort in a remote and unstable area in Afghanistan. The work on the late twelfth-century funerary monument included the stabilization of eight brick vaults and removal of later additions that obscured the historic character of the building. The process used traditional construction techniques as well as new materials where compatible with the historic fabric. The project included a training component to help perpetuate traditional skills and knowledge, with skilled artisans and laborers from the community working under the guidance of conservation specialists. The restored mausoleum now serves as a renewed focus of devotion.

Cape Inscription Lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters 

Shark Bay, Western Australia, Australia

The restoration and repair of the Cape Inscription Lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters set new standards for heritage efforts in Australia. Overcoming the remote setting was in itself a noteworthy conservation achievement as the building is located on Dirk Hartog Island, off the most westerly point of Australia within the boundary of the World Heritage site of Shark Bay. Prior to initiation of the project in 2005, the early twentieth-century property was in a severe state of neglect—subject to vandalism and the effects of its harsh marine environment. The meticulously staged conservation effort, undertaken by the Dirk Hartog Island Committee, demonstrated a consistent respect for the constraints of the area and fragile ecology of the protected area. The building now provides housing for the on-site wardens and facilities for an educational programme are being planned.

Rottnest Island World War II Coastal Defences

Rottnest Island, Western Australia, Australia

The conservation of the coastal defence network at   Rottnest Island, Western Australia—a project involving twelve buildings, four gun emplacements and two sets of tunnels, across four isolated locations—was an exemplary achievement in research, planning, and execution. Sponsored by the Rottnest Island Authority, with considerable expert guidance and many hours of volunteer contributions, the project involved specialized surface treatments, such as the cleaning, repair, and painting of the metal gun housing and barrels. The protection of the refurbished defensive works has ensured the preservation of a historic asset of significant importance to an understanding of Australia’s role in the Second World War. 

Nanjing Yihe Mansions 

Jiangsu Province, China

The enclave of late 1920s mansions are a testimony to the period of modern Chinese architecture known alternatively as the “Republic” or “National” Style which are increasingly under threat around the country from development pressures.  Neglected and in many cases dilapidated, the twenty-six properties included in the Yihe Mansions Project still conveyed a sense of their past elegance. They have now been incorporated into a modern hotel, with each house serving as a separate unit.  The project focused on the careful renovation and restoration of building exteriors and the adaptation of interior spaces to modern use. The stucco-covered brick buildings carry a strong sense of their original character and provide a glimpse into an important transitional period in China’s history. 

Esplanade House

Mumbai, India

Carried out over a decade, work on Esplanade House has preserved a once dilapidated mansion as a prominent example of late nineteenth-century architecture in Mumbai. The Renaissance Revival private mansion had seen several periods of change and redecoration over its 120-year life.  Prior to commencement of the work, the building had suffered from years of neglect and poor maintenance. Conducted in stages, the project involved significant research and the application of nearly forgotten decorative techniques. After extensive refurbishment of the interior and exterior facade, and reinforcement of its structural components, the house has now been repurposed as offices. The renewed mansion now stands as part of the distinctive architectural ensemble of the Mumbai historic cityscape.


De Driekleur

Bandung, Indonesia

De Driekleur exemplifies Bandung’s remarkable collection of Art Deco and Art Moderne buildings dating back to the 1930s. Originally a private house, the three-storey building had most recently served as a bank.  Earlier conversion efforts had deprived the building of much of its distinctive character.  In order to recapture the distinctive “spirit of place” of the original design, the restoration architect conducted detailed historical analysis and material examination of the building, removed later additions and recreated missing elements. With its heritage integrity reinstated, the building continues to serve as a bank and as part of the legacy of Modern architecture in Indonesia.   

Gali Surjan Singh

Lahore, Pakistan

The Gali Surjan Singh Urban Conservation Project represents a heroic effort to combine restoration with much-needed infrastructural upgrading in the historic urban centre of Lahore. Overseen by the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan in partnership with the Government of Punjab, the project relied on a high level of preliminary planning, including mapping of water, sewage, and power lines; assessments of social impacts; and detailed analysis of individual historic properties within the prescribed area. Work consisted of structural reinforcement, removal of inappropriate later additions, and the introduction of new services. Renovations of individual residential units emphasized the retention of original features and the insertion of new materials following traditional patterns. Benefiting a total of thirteen residences, the project demonstrated that conservation is a viable approach to urban renewal.