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UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards Programme holds a panel discussion and introduces the second volume of Asia Conserved book





On June 13, over 70 guests and media attended the UNESCO event, ‘Asia Conserved: Sharing Regional Best Practices from the UNESCO Heritage Awards’, co-hosted by the Siam Society, Bangkok, Thailand.

The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation recognize outstanding achievements in successfully conserving or restoring heritage buildings and properties in the region, by the private sector or via public-private initiatives. Winning projects span a wide range of conservation projects, including private residences to palace complexes, from traditional vernacular timber shop houses to magnificent industrial structures.

The Awards set technical and social benchmarks for regional efforts at cultural heritage conservation. Winning projects serve as catalysts and a source of inspiration for private individuals and institutions in conserving cultural heritage. Merits for the protection of our fragile built cultural heritage extend beyond the physical fabric of a place or building. Cultural heritage conservation can bring economic gains to a community by providing revenue from tourism activities or employment through craft related activities. It can also lead to powerful social impacts, providing communities with a sense of belonging, pride and rootedness, important in a period dominated by rapid environmental changes.

Since the Awards’ launch in 2000, projects illustrate an increasing momentum and level of conservation in Asia-Pacific. A total of 148 projects have received Awards for exemplary conservation efforts. 8 projects have received our Jury Commendation for Innovation, honoring newly-built structures that are both architecturally exceptional and well-integrated into historic contexts.

The event was held as a preview of the upcoming UNESCO publication Asia Conserved Volume II: Lessons learned from the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation (2005-2009). The panel discussion on essays in this book provided an excellent opportunity for the audience to explore and debate cultural heritage issues with five distinguished panellists, each a long-standing Heritage Award jury member and expert in cultural heritage. The wide-ranging topics criss-crossed the multi-dimensional nature of heritage whilst illustrated the richness and complexity of cultural heritage as practiced in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Why preserve?”, was the opening question raised by Professor William Chapman, director of the graduate programme in Historic Preservation at the University of Hawaii, and led to a discussion by the jury members, each panellists presented compelling points extracted from each of their respective essays in Asia Conserved Volume II. Mr Laurence Loh, a conservation architect from Malaysia, discussed the political desirability for conserving historic properties, whilst Ms Gurmeet Rai, a conservation architect from India, discussed community empowerment and heritage for all. Professor Detlef Kammeier, an urban planning expert, then introduced the issue of urban heritage conservation and historic cities.

Dr Richard Engelhardt, former UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific and the moderator for the panel discussion, asked poignant and thought-provoking questions, probing what is the future of heritage conservation? It was responded to by the panellists on many different levels, including the increasing importance and role of technology and the use of internet platforms and digital applications which are already changing the way that civil society interfaces with its heritage. Public audience and past winners of the Heritage Awards also took the floor to share their opinions and ask questions.

The publication Asia Conserved Volume II: Lessons learned from the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation (2005-2009) is the sequel to Asia Conserved (Volume I) which covered Award winners from 2000-2004. The Volume II shall be available digitally and as a printed publication through iGroup Press in the coming months.

To download e-book of Asia Conserved (Volume I) for free, and place an online 10% off pre-pub order of Asia Conserved Volume II, please visit