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2004 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards Winners

Baltit Fort

Lakhpat Gururdwara

St Ascension Cathedral 01

Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Dadabhai Naoroji Road Streetscape

Phra Racha Wang Derm

Vietnamese Traditional Folk Houses

Elphinstone College

Female Orphan School

Gong zi ting

Namuna Ghar

Shzhou River Warehouse

Zagar-e-Yazdi House

Zhangzhou city Historic Streets

Tak Seong On Pawnshop

Press Release: English

The UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific announced today that Baltit Fort (in Karimabad village in the Hunza region of Pakistan) has been honoured with the Award of Excellence in the UNESCO 2004 Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.  The three Awards of Distinction went to Lakhpat Gurudwara (Lakhpat village in the state of Gujarat in India); St Ascension Cathedral (Almaty, Kazakhstan) and the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Mullewa, Australia).  Five Awards of Merit and eight Honourable Mention prizes were also announced today.

The UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards recognize the efforts of private individuals and organizations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region.  Eligible projects must be more than 50 years old and the restoration must have been completed within the past 10 years.  Buildings must also have been in viable use for at least one year from the date of the Awards announcement.  UNESCO believes that recognizing private efforts to restore and adapt historic structures will encourage other property owners to undertake conservation projects within the community, either independently or by seeking public-private partnerships.

A total of 37 entries were received this year from 12 countries and administrative areas in the Asia-Pacific region. A variety of types of projects were submitted for the Awards, including: seven religious buildings, fourteen institutions, eight residential buildings, three commercial projects, three urban conservation programmes, and two cultural landscapes.

A panel of international conservation experts in architecture, urban planning, heritage conservation and landscape design 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 the Asia-Pacific region. All winning entries demonstrated sound understanding of the issues of conservation in relation to the cultural, social, historical, and architectural significance of the building or complex.  In addition, all award-winning entries had an important impact in terms of stimulating further conservation works and all made a contribution to cultural continuity in their respective communities.

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

Baltit Fort

Hunja, Pakistan

The restoration of the majestic 700-year-old Baltit Fort exemplifies excellence in large-scale conservation practice. This challenging project was the first of its kind in northern Hunza, reversing the trend of neglecting heritage, and becoming a model for the revitalization of other historic structures in the region. The monumental wood and masonry structure was carefully repaired using a combination of traditional local knowledge and state-of-the-art conservation techniques. The fort’s restoration has fostered the revival of traditional building trades, while an associated handicrafts project is providing improved livelihood opportunities in the area. In its new use as a cultural centre and museum, the fort attracts thousands of visitors to the province and has contributed to reinvigorating the local community’s pride in their heritage.

Award of Distinction

Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Western Australia, Australia

The conservation of the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has restored the distinct rustic character of this significant historic building, the focal point of the rural community of Mullewa. Thorough scholarship about the local context and the collected works of the building’s priest-architect has guided the sensitive conservation approach. The careful restoration of the historic building fabric, including the magnificent stained glass windows, and the removal of inappropriate newer elements, has reinstated the building’s intended spirituality. The commendable technical execution of the project, along with its detailed documentation, sets a standard for the restoration of similar buildings in the region.

Lakhpat Gurudwara

Gujarat, India

The restoration of this Sikh house of worship demonstrates a sophisticated holistic understanding of both the technical and social aspects of conservation process and practice. Careful attention to detail and sensitive repair work have ensured the retention of the building’s historic character. Most significantly, the emphasis on involving and empowering the community ensures the long-term survival of the historic building and its associated cultural traditions. Training given to local youth in correct conservation methods emphasizing traditional construction techniques has revitalized local craft skills and revived the use of indigenous materials. The restoration of the Gurudwara returns it to its place of pride in the Lakhpat community, showcasing the distinctiveness of their Sikh heritage both locally as well as nationally.

St. Ascension Cathedral

Almaty, Kazakhstan

This project has successfully restored the sacred St. Ascension Cathedral, returning Almaty’s spiritual centerpiece to the Orthodox community. Thorough studies of the 1907 cathedral’s structure and history, undertaken before works began, have ensured the authenticity of the restoration, thereby retaining the structure’s tremendous architectural and historic significance. An emphasis on the use of appropriate materials and techniques and the methodical removal of incongruous additions demonstrates good conservation practice and has successfully restored the historic character of this unique timber monument.

Award of Merit

Dadabhai Naoroji Road Streetscape

Mumbai, India

The first of its kind in India, this ambitious streetscape project has revived the historic ambience of Dadabhai Naoroji Road of Mumbai through the restoration of shop fronts, signage and street furniture to reflect the area’s Victorian-era commercial heritage. Through a bottom-up participatory approach this project has galvanized local shop owners and residents, leading to the creation of citizen’s associations which sustain and expand conservation work in historic Mumbai. Starting with grass-roots advocacy, and continuing through stakeholder consensus, the project has succeeded in gaining commitment from the municipal government to adopt urban design guidelines for the entire historic precinct, setting an important precedent. The project’s success has generated widespread appreciation of the aesthetic, social and commercial values which have resulted from the preservation of the street’s historic character. Through its influence on urban policy and contribution to the commercial vitality of the neighbourhood, this project sets the standard for future urban streetscape revitalization throughout India.

Dorje Chenmo Temple

Jammu and Kashmir, India

The restoration of Dorje Chenmo Temple and its superb wall paintings demonstrates the value of an integrated and inclusive conservation approach to preserving cultural heritage. Technical aspects of the work on the once-abandoned village prayer hall were guided by architectural and art restoration experts, while a key catalytic role in the project was played by the illage oracle, who framed the project within a traditional devotional context. Working with the project management team, the oracle encouraged extensive involvement by the residents of Shey in the conservation work, resulting in the reintegration of the temple into community life and the renewal of an appreciation for traditional construction techniques and decorative arts as appropriate to the continuity of local heritage. This project sets an exemplary model for best practice in the conservation of the extensive religious heritage of Ladakh.

Phra Racha Wang Derm

Bangkok, Thailand

The restoration of this significant royal palace complex, Phra Racha Wang Derm, sets a new precedent for conservation in Thailand and demonstrates the enormous potential of private sector-led efforts to save important parts of the community’s heritage. The project has successfully preserved this valuable ensemble of structures which represent over 300 years of transformation, including the main core of palace buildings which were the centre of royal political and military power during the Thonburi Era. This multi-faceted and ambitious project has effectively incorporated the use of traditional methods and craftsmanship and has conserved important examples of royal decorative fine arts. Attention to details of the original structures and to accuracy in colours has preserved the authenticity of individual buildings within the complex, which each represent a historic period. Exposure of earlier features through archaeological excavation and the use of landscape elements to interpret those features have successfully created a palimpsest of history at the site. With the development of a historical museum and a library on-site, the complex is a centre of public outreach and education into the history of the nation. The restoration of the palace complex highlights the achievements of the Thonburi Era and raises awareness of an important period in the development of Siamese statehood and foreign relations.

St. Thomas Cathedral

Mumbai, India

The restoration of St. Thomas Cathedral, constructed between 1676 and 1718, has rescued one of Mumbai’s most important landmark buildings and has contributed to revitalizing the built heritage of the city’s historic centre. The project’s thorough documentation, the removal of incongruous elements and the restrained repair work display a sound understanding of conservation theory and methodology. By reinstating the original site plan, the project has restored the historic coherence of the complex and grounds. Furthermore, the creative adaptive reuse of some buildings within the complex has reinforced the function of the cathedral as a place of community learning, while demonstrating the modern-day socio-economic viability of historic structures.

Vietnamese Traditional Folk Houses

Bac Ninh, Quang Nam, Dong Nai, Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa and Tien Giang Province, Vietnam

Spanning six provinces in Viet Nam, this ambitious, innovative and outstanding project has successfully preserved several typologies of vernacular timber buildings representing a range of Vietnamese regional building crafts and architectural traditions. Methodical documentation and research prior to the commencement of the work have ensured the retention of the architectural authenticity of each building, and set a regional standard for applied research in conservation practice. The project’s emphasis on the transfer of technical know-how and teaching of conservation principles has upgraded the capacity of local builders and craftsmen in undertaking similar projects in their communities, thus ensuring the long term survival of their buildings and traditions. The geographical distribution of the sites promises to have a wide-ranging impact on the conservation of local heritage throughout Viet Nam.

Honourable Mention

Elphinstone College

Mumbai, India

The restoration of the façade of the Victorian landmark, Elphinstone College, was undertaken as a result of a community-led campaign and demonstrates best practice in collaborative private-public conservation. Setting the standard for conservation work on the Victorian buildings of Mumbai, the project’s cautious and methodical conservation approach and, in particular, its use of non-invasive techniques have ensured the preservation of the building’s fragile, historic fabric. The methodology used in this project serves as a model for the restoration of the many similar structures in Mumbai’s historic Fort District. The project has returned this landmark building to its former magnificence and has preserved one of the most valuable parts of the city’s history and built heritage. By illustrating the architectural splendour of the Fort District of Mumbai, this project has contributed to consolidating the district as a showcase for Mumbai’s wealth of Victorian heritage.

Female Orphan School

New South Wales, Australia

The conservation and adaptation of the Female Orphan School has revitalized one of the most important surviving buildings from the early period of European settlement in Australia, and has ensured that this historic structure will continue to be utilized for years to come. This project displays a sound technical approach in the conservation of existing significant fabric, while the preservation of all phases of the building’s history captures in palimpsest its 190- year history of varied use. Reintroduction of original elements, such as the paired staircase, has reinstated the original circulation patterns, restoring functionality, while the new fittings and access mechanisms such as the lighting system and lift tower have facilitated the building’s continued use in a contemporary context. Sensitive conservation of wall paintings from one period of occupation has retained the building’s historic personality even as its function in the community has changed over time. Ever mindful of its sense of place, the use of this historic, but once derelict, building as part of the University of Western Sydney campus has provided a means by which the public can access and appreciate this significant nineteenth century structure.


Beijing, China

The restoration of Beijing’s historic Gong’zi’ting palace garden complex demonstrates a clearly articulated conservation strategy combining thorough research and minimal intervention undertaken within a well developed theoretical framework guiding landscape conservation in the Chinese context. Through judicious use of traditional materials and methods, the buildings and grounds have been restored to reflect their significant historic status and cultural value. Meticulous restoration of the historic gardens of the Gong’zi’ting complex calls attention to the importance of the conservation of historic gardens and landscapes within Chinese culture and is testimony to the project’s important contribution to cultural continuity. Reuse of this historic garden complex within the context of the Tsinghua University campus has made this valuable heritage asset available as an educational resource for community and ensures its long-term survival.

Namuna Ghar

Bhaktapur, Nepal

The restoration and revitalization of this archetypal Newari village farmhouse has successfully preserved a fundamental building type central to the traditional architectural vocabulary of the Kathmandu Valley. In the process, public awareness has been raised about the value of such traditional vernacular structures within a contemporary setting. The careful preservation of vernacular materials has retained the structure’s sense of place and original charm while modest, low-cost changes and the sensitive introduction of contemporary facilities have improved living conditions in the house and thereby enabled use of the building in a modern context. Demonstrating the feasibility and affordability of conserving and adapting vernacular houses for continued residential use, this project has paved the way for the conservation of similar traditional buildings throughout Nepal.

Suzhou River Warehouse

Shanghai, China

The conservation and adaptation of this archetypical warehouse on the Suzhou River demonstrates the large scale impact that an individual, pioneering restoration project can have in focusing public attention and policy-making on new conservation agendas, in this case, Shanghai’s industrial history. A minimalist approach and careful retention of the defining features of the structure have preserved the building’s ambience, while the innovative adaptation of the warehouse for reuse as a design studio has demonstrated the feasibility of recycling industrial buildings and the practicability of rehabilitating such heritage structures for modern use.

Tak Seng On Pawnshop

Macao SAR, China

The restoration of the Tak Seng On pawnshop and tower has preserved a fine example of a unique southern-China building type and has thereby protected the cultural memory associated with the region’s commercial and financial history. Given the important historic role played by this type of financial institution to the communities of the Pearl River delta, by safeguarding this building type the project has made an important contribution to cultural and community continuity. The conservation of original features such as the main building’s interior structures as well as the tower has retained the key elements of the building’s intended functional form. The conservation approach has nevertheless acknowledged the evolved state of the building over time by preserving evidence of previous renovation work. The project captures the living practices of the pawnshop in an on-site museum, by showcasing original objects discovered during the restoration process. A pioneering adaptive reuse project, the restoration project has made the pawnshop one of the key landmarks on Macao’s heritage trail, stimulating conservation of other commercial structures in the city.

Zargar-e-Yadzi House

Yazd, Iran

Through identifying and showcasing traditional Iranian architectural techniques, this restoration project has accurately preserved and convincingly conveyed historic continuity in local vernacular built heritage. The project exemplifies how authentic use of traditional materials and craftsmanship can contribute to the continuity of both architectural and socio-cultural identity. The adaptation of the Zargar-e-Yazdi house for use as a hotel has demonstrated to the local community the viability of using vernacular structures within a modern and commercial context and has enabled the wider public to gain understanding of and appreciation for Iranian built heritage while securing the future of this handsome building.

Zhangzhou City Historic Streets

Fujian Province, China

Based on a precise and well-considered plan, this project to restore and revitalize two historic streets in Zhangzhou City has holistically preserved an urban ensemble comprising a range of important architectural styles. The restoration has provided the local residents with improved facilities and conditions while stimulating a significant increase in commercial activity in the area. The emphasis on conserving original materials, the removal of inappropriate additions and the use of prudent conservation techniques has commendably restored the building façades and revived the historic streetscape within an urban renewal context. The community support and satisfaction with the restoration work is such that the local government has formulated a policy to undertake similar works in other historic streets in Zhangzhou City, exemplifying the catalytic success such projects can have in producing conditions conducive to heritage conservation.