Name: Injee KIM
Architectural Conservation Programme
The University of Hong Kong
Position: 2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation Jury Meeting Intern at UNESCO Bangkok
Duration: 1st December 2016-30th November 2017 (12 months)
Sponsorship: United Nations Peace and Development Foundation
2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation Jury Meeting
The 2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation Jury Meeting was held from August 9-11 at Park Plaza Hotel, Bangkok. This year marks the 18th jury session, which is a testament to the ongoing success of the programme in recognizing outstanding heritage conservation practice across Asia-Pacific.
Duong Bich Hanh, Chief of Culture Unit, UNESCO Bangkok chaired the meeting with nine Jury members invited to share their expertise and knowledge in judging this year’s Awards entries. The Jury members were invited from Australia, China (Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Nanjing), India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and United States to cover a wide geographic span of the region.
Over the three days, the Jury members reviewed 43 entry submissions including 31 for the Conservation category and 12 for the new design category. It is notable to mark the increase in the number of submission for the New Design category, as it is more than double the number received the previous year. Projects from China and India once again dominated the number of submissions this year.
The Jury finalized 16 entries including 13 from the conservation category and 3 from the new design category to be the winners of the 2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The Award of Excellence went to Blue House Cluster, Hong Kong SAR, China. Other awardees included:
Award of Distinction:
Brookman and Moir Streets Precinct, Perth, Australia
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Shanghai, China
Award of Merit:
Christ Church, Mumbai, India
Royal Bombay Opera House, Mumbai, India
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, India
Great Hall and Clock Tower Buildings, Arts Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
Bomonjee Hormarjee Wadia Fountain and Clock Tower, Mumbai, India
Gateways of Gohad Fort, Gohad, India
Haveli Dharampura, Delhi, India
Wellington Fountain, Mumbai, India
Aftab Cultural House, Isfahan, Iran
Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and Rectory Building, Singapore
New Design in Heritage Contexts:
Jingdezhen Ceramic Industry Museum, Jingdezhen, China
Macha Village, Gansu Province, China
Persian Gulf University – Faculty of Art & Architecture, Bulshehr, Iran
As a side event on the first day of the meeting, essay writers for the Asia Conserved 3 publication gathered separately to present essay outline and discuss overall timeline for submission of first draft. All five writers were amongst the members of the 2017 Jury. Each writer shared ideas to avoid overlapping of themes and winning projects they would focus on in their writing. UNESCO will need to follow up on the number of words, style of citation, quotation and footnotes. The first draft of essay is due January 31, 2018.
At the closing session, the chair of the meeting invited all Jury members to share ideas on ways to promote the Awards programme. Some of the suggestions made were to:
Partner and collaborate with Online Journals and Magazines such as Arch Daily, Dezeen etc.;
Collaborate with ICOMOS. General Assembly to be held in New Delhi, Dec. 11- 15 2017;
Develop online courses on conservation and the Awards programme;
Develop (teaching) tool kit that focus on small sub-themes on conservation;
Launch an online platform;
Encourage more youth involvement (Student Heritage Awards, Facebook live etc.); and
Chose a few projects from the New Design category to promote more on its criteria.
Other comments emphasized the importance of engaging countries such as Myanmar, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and the “Stan-countries”, where heritage conservation in very active, but have low or no submission entries. Countries such as Indonesia and Iran were discussed as potential countries for an exhibition or a workshop, since they submit multiple entries every year with relatively poor conservation work.
The Jury members also stressed the importance of sharing events and news regarding the Awards to the public, especially the Jury, with consistency. The Awards programme should work on publicity throughout the year than to focus on a few dates such as the opening of the entries and the winner’s announcement. Reflecting on this, UNESCO plan to make a publicity manual for the Awards programme.
It was such an honour for me to be part of the Jury meeting this year. I had the chance to read through all submitted entry materials as well as to participate in the Jury discussion during which the winners are finalized. It was indeed a great opportunity for me to learn what is the criteria of good conservation and how it is being applied to actual projects in various parts of the world. The Jury meeting was also interesting in the way renowned scholars, conservationists and practicing architects got together and discussed the shift in paradigm for conservation in the recent years.
Reflecting on the Blue House Cluster of Hong Kong SAR, China which was given the Award of Excellence this year, the conservation of heritage is now moving towards recognizing the significance of conserving heritage that have long been neglected until now. The Blue House Cluster situates itself in the last remaining working-class community of the fast developing Wan Chai. The revitalization of the Blue House cluster was more about conserving and enhancing the intangible value of the property than the physical elements of the building.
I was quite impressed to visit Blue House on my last visit to Hong Kong. It has changed so much since I visited the place early 2017. With all community programmes and shops open and functioning, the whole Stone Nullah neighborhood seems much lively and awake. As a person who has studied conservation in University of Hong Kong and have been receiving support from the UNPDF Hong Kong, I felt very proud of their achievement.
Lastly, I would like to thank again UNPDF for the generous support that has enabled me to be engaged with UNESCO Bangkok longer than I have ever imagined. I hope this experience could lead to something more valuable in the future.