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2008 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award Winners

Herat City

1a Stadium Merdeka 2008

1d Fujian Earth Buildings 2008

1d National Pass 2008

1b Suffolk House 2008

1a Mountbatten Rd 2008 01

1b Wat Pongsanuk 2008

4a Vysial St

1c 2 Amphawa Canal Community 2008

1b 2008 Archiepiscopal Palace

1b Bach 38 2008

1b Bethanie 2008

1d Craigie Burn Bungalow 2008

1b 1 Crown Property Bureau 2008

Press Release: English

Herat Old City in Afghanistan and Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have been honoured with the two Awards of Excellence in the 2008 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.  
The three Awards of Distinction went to the National Pass in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia, the Fujian Earth Buildings in Fujian Province, China and Suffolk House in Penang, Malaysia.

The three Awards of Merit include Vysial Street in Pondicherry, India, the Shigar Historic Settlements and Bazaar Area in the Northern Areas, Pakistan and Wat Pongsanuk in Lampang, Thailand. 

Six Honourable Mentions were also announced. They are the Béthanie in Hong Kong SAR, China, the Archiepiscopal Palace in Goa, India, the Craigie Burn Bungalow in Matheran, India, Bach 38 in Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand, the Amphawa Canal Community in Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram Province, Thailand and the Crown Property Bureau Building  in Chachoengsao Province, Thailand.

A total of 45 entries, from 13 countries in the region, were submitted for consideration. The conservation project entries include hotels, offices, cultural institutions, educational institutions, religious sites, memorials, public institutions, residential buildings and urban districts. 

The 2008 Heritage Awards Jury Commendation for Innovation was awarded to 733 Mountbatten Road (Singapore). The Jury Commendation recognizes newly-built structures which demonstrate outstanding standards for contemporary architectural design which are well integrated into historic contexts. 

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

Awards of Excellence

Herat Old City

Herat, Afghanistan

The restoration of key buildings in Herat Old City has overcome tremendous challenges and demonstrates the important role of cultural revitalization as an integral part of the process towards establishing normalcy in a post-conflict situation. The project showcases a holistic approach to regeneration by initiating the conservation of the entire historic district through the strategic restoration of the bazaar, mosque and gateway. The success of these initial steps provides the confidence needed to undertake the larger-scale rebuilding works. Excellent documentation of the historic structures provided the basis for the restoration decision-making process. The restoration works display a high level of craftsmanship and a commitment to the use of traditional materials, leading to a positive impact in reviving the traditional construction system as well as the local building trades. The community-led project has clarified the reading of the historic cityscape, strengthened the social fabric, and renewed Herat’s spirit of place.

Stadium Merdeka

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The restoration of Stadium Merdeka, the iconic setting of the announcement of Malayan independence, has saved a national heritage building and recovered a nation’s collective memory. Originally slated for redevelopment into a commercial complex, the Stadium has been restored to its original 1957 form in recognition of the inextricable connection between the building and the historic moment of independence. Later additions, notably the upper tiers, were carefully removed and the original structure and aesthetics of the building were reinstated, demonstrating a thorough understanding and respect for the significance of the Stadium at a specific moment in history and a recognition of the heritage value of modern architecture. The privately funded rescue effort spearheaded by Permodalan Nasional Berhad, with professional assistance from Badan Warisan Malaysia, serves as a stirring inspiration for civil society around the region in safeguarding heritage sites as part of a shared social and political responsibility.

Award of Distinction

Fujian Earth Buildings

Fujian Province, China

The restoration of the Fujian Earth Buildings has safeguarded a unique building typology and acknowledges their ongoing relevance in a modern era. Dating as far back as the tenth century, the buildings stand as a testament to innovative traditional building technology that evolved in response to local social patterns and political necessity. Detailed documentation of the structures allowed the conservation team to develop a baseline record of the cultural and physical significance of the site. As part of the restoration strategy, inappropriate later accretions were removed and the necessary modern utilities were installed in an unobtrusive manner to clarify the articulation of the historic structures and to accommodate ongoing contemporary occupation by the residents.

National Pass

Blue Mountains, Australia

The heroic effort to repair the National Pass Walking Track has successfully restored a significant man-made element of the landscape of the Blue Mountains World Heritage site. Undertaken over a span of five years through the dedicated efforts of the project team, the century-old track has been upgraded to meet safety standards and growing visitor needs, while respecting the historic built fabric and the natural setting to the greatest extent possible. Unique solutions were evolved for each land form, each material used and each on-site challenge. The consolidation and reconstruction of steps, bridges and staircases using local materials and traditional building techniques demonstrate excellent craftsmanship, ensured the historic continuity of the walking track and reconfirmed the relationship between nature and humankind.

Suffolk House

Penang, Malaysia

The restoration of Suffolk House has returned one of the most important colonial heritage landmarks in Penang to its former state of grandeur after years of neglect. The massively dilapidated building was restored to its 1812-1820 form in strict accordance with historic paintings and archaeological evidence uncovered after a meticulous process of research and investigation. Modern additions to the site have been handled in a sensitive manner while the period landscaping consolidates the historic setting of the building. The restoration works were carried out to a high level of technical competence and demonstrate standard-setting excellence in craftsmanship. The public-private partnership in undertaking the project has renewed the building’s historic role and serves as a worthy model for future restoration initiatives in the Penang World Heritage site.

Award of Merit

Shigar Historic Settlements and Bazaar Area

Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Located in one of the longest-inhabited areas of Baltistan, the Shigar Historic Settlements have been restored through a grass-roots approach that has successfully rehabilitated both the physical and social fabric of the community. The project has achieved an overall urban upgrade of services and infrastructure that sensitively addresses the holistic needs of the community and sensitively fits in with the traditional setting. The restoration works have been carried out on a low-key basis to a high level of technical competence using appropriate local technology. Key historic buildings have been restored and now anchor the traditional townscape, kindling pride of place in both older and younger generations alike.

Vysial Street

Pondlcherry, India

The restoration of Vysial Street through the Asia Urbs Programme sets a notable example for urban streetscape conservation in Pondicherry and other historic quarters in India and the region. The project has successfully elicited the cooperation of municipal government, conservation experts and, most importantly, local residents. The restoration of historic building facades and the redesign of modern infill buildings has been undertaken as part of a comprehensive upgrade of urban environment and services. The project has revived the historic Franco-Tamil character of the street and urban quarter and has reinvigorated a sense of pride among the community.

Wat Pongsanuk

Lampang Province, Thailand

The restoration of Wat Pongsanuk provides an inspirational model of community-led conservation in saving a unique Lanna temple. The project showcases the collective achievements of the monks and the local residents working in close cooperation with traditional craftspersons, local authorities and academic advisors. The restoration works have been sensitively carried out, with the revival of traditional building and decorative techniques. The project has also achieved educational aims in teaching local history, as seen in the thoughtful on-site exhibits and the subtle notations of the earlier building footprint. By empowering the traditional caretakers of the temple, the restoration project ensures that Wat Pongsanuk can continue to be sustained as a vital part of the cultural heritage of Lampang and northern Thailand for many years to come.

Honourable Mention

Amphawa Canal Community

Samut Songkram Province, Thailand

The restoration of the traditional Amphawa Canal Community has successfully achieved public-private cooperation in the safeguarding of heritage structures in Thailand. With co-funding from the local government and Denmark, the project has benefited from the active support of the local residents and homeowners and the guidance of Chulalongkorn University. The project has conserved numerous historic buildings of local significance and retained the traditional canal-side urban morphology, which is under threat around the country. The project demonstrates a recognition of the cultural significance of Amphawa and an appreciation of both the architectural and living heritage of the historic canal community.

Archiepiscopal Palace

Goa, India

After a sustained multi-year effort, this significant example of colonial architecture has been restored to its former glory. The project has undertaken technically competent restoration works and addressed a number of inappropriate previous repairs and additions. The works have been carried out in an appropriately modest way, using appropriate technology, traditional materials and local craftsmanship. The historic building fabric and original technology of the building have been respected and retained, including the natural climate control techniques. The project stands as a noteworthy model for safeguarding other vulnerable historic religious buildings in the Goa World Heritage site.

Bach 38

Auckland, New Zealand

The restoration of the historic caretaker’s cottage in the seaside community of Rangitoto Island has conserved a unique historic building typology. The conservation works were carried out in a modest and effective manner, allowing for continuity in the building’s function within the community. The attention to detail, such as the interior finishes, has allowed the building fabric to remain intact. The building has been appropriately adapted into a museum and information centre that serves a valuable public education purpose. The community grassroots effort in accomplishing the project is to be praised.


Hong Kong SAR, China

The Béthanie was built in 1875 by the Missions Étrangères de Paris and was used as a sanatorium for almost a century. In 2003 the Hong Kong Legislative Council approved funding for the restoration of the building. The renovation included reinstatement of the original pitched roof and interior upgrades. The Béthanie was reborn as the new home of the School of Film and Television of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in 2006.

Craigie Burn Bungalow

Matheran, India

The restoration of Craigie Burn Bungalow has taken a minimalist approach that respects the traditional materials and historic design of the building. The repair works have been competently executed using vernacular building techniques. The private owners are to be commended for their commitment to preserving an important local building typology that has been largely neglected up to this point. The project represents a significant first step towards the potential future conservation of other historic bungalows in the colonial hill station.

Crown Property Bureau Building

Chachoengsao, Thailand

The restoration of the Chachaoengsao Old Provincial Hall to serve as the Crown Property Bureau Building in Chachoengsao Province has given new life to an important heritage building that had been extensively damaged by fire. The restoration has re-affirmed the role of the building as a key urban landmark. In the reconstruction and conservation works, careful attention has been paid to the historic character of the building, both in the interior and exterior. The project has bolstered local pride and led to the larger revitalization of the historic urban district of Chachoengsao and the Bangpakong waterfront. The high-visibility project demonstrates the notable commitment of the Crown Property Bureau to conserve the historic structures in its portfolio that are a significant part of the country’s heritage.

2008 Award for New Design in Heritage Contexts

733 Mountbatten Road

733 Mountbatten Road, Singapore

The contemporary addition to 733 Mountbatten Road has successfully added needed floor space while retaining and conserving the original building. The spatial arrangement and the massing of the new building in relation to the historic bungalow create an appropriate balance between the old and new. This project, which demonstrates good conservation practice in combination with innovative solutions for providing additional space, sets a worthy model for reuse of heritage buildings in Singapore.