Recent Community Reviews

1017 of the 1052 WHS have been reviewed by visitors of this website

Singapore Botanic Gardens (Jay T, 26-02-2017)

I had less than 24 hours in Singapore when I visited in September 2012, but there was no way I was going to miss the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Accordingly, early in the morning the day after I arrived, I woke up and took a short subway ride to the gardens

>> read on

White City of Tel-Aviv (Pavel Matejicek, 26-02-2017)

I spent a week in Tel Aviv in February 2017. It was my first visit of Israel and I enjoyed my stay in Tel Aviv a lot! I must say: I would not have a temptation to leave the city and go to a tourist trap of Jerusalem even after one week at one place.

My impression was that Tel Aviv is a blend of Berlin with a mediterranean spirit

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Bahá’i Holy Places (Pavel Matejicek, 26-02-2017)

I visited the gardens and shrine in Haifa and I agree with the reviews below: There is a great view over the Haifa bay and the place itself looks spectacular, but I cannot see any OUV there.

In summary: it is a tourist trap, I can see reason of inscription only to attract the tourist for visiting of Haifa, that is perfectly located but do not offer anything that can be called as a world class site

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Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island (T) (Pavel Matejicek, 26-02-2017)

I visited Okinawa island in March last year. According the locals, March-April would be the best time to visit and explore the island in order to avoid winter cold, summer hot&humidity, monzoon of May, and typhoons of fall.

The Yanbaru forest is located in the norden part of the island, and Nago is the best place to stay&go further to north

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Sites funéraires et mémoriels de la Première Guerre mondiale (Front Ouest) (T) (Thibault Magnien, 22-02-2017)

The sites related to WW1 are of great universal significance. The conflict had a huge impact not only for the people who were involved in it but also for all mankind. It took human people from the era of artisanal and local war to industrial and global war

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Blog: Books: Modern African Architecture

A few weeks ago we’ve had an interesting discussion at the Forum about the unfulfilled potential of African sites as future WHS. With some creative thinking we easily came up with possible additions to tentative lists. But especially ‘modern’ sites, connected to for example modern architecture and urban planning, seem to be few and far between. Coincidentally, a recent publication on global heritage matters adresses just this issue.

Global Heritage Assemblages: Development and Modern Architecture in Africa by Christoph Rausch is the publication of a PhD thesis. After a longish introduction of the theoretical framework, the second part of the book focuses on 3 case studies on Modern African Heritage. The most captive is the story of Asmara, up for WH nomination this year. The author shows how both the transnational organizations such as the World Bank and the EU ánd the Eritrean government use the cultural heritage of the Modern Architecture of Asmara for their own purposes.

The early 20th century Italian colonial urbanism of Asmara is seen by the transnational organizations as a globally shared heritage, of importance to both colonizers and colonized. This is founded on a “nostalgia for colonial utopias of progress” and on the other hand on the creation of a “new blank canvas” for economic development (for example via heritage tourism and jobs in conservation).

But while the Eritrean regime welcomes the money that comes with this appreciation, it has its own agenda with Asmara – and it certainly doesn’t want to share! Its reference to the Italian colonial period legitimizes the existence of Eritrea within its current borders and thus enstrengthens nationalism. This difference in views even went so far that Eritrea has not wanted to nominate Asmara for WH status, fearing the responsibilities that come with it and “erosion of sovereignity”.

So one of the pitfalls is that ‘modern’ sites in Africa are often linked to colonialism – which isn’t something fairly recent independent countries creating their own identities want to be associated with. A different book, Modern architecture in Africa by Antoni Folkers, tries to highlight the 'other' modern African architecture. Folkers is a Dutch architect and founder of ArchiAfrika, an organization which also features in the book of Rausch. His knowledge is based on his own experiences in a dozen African countries.

This attractively illustrated 350 page book is a very enjoyable read, both for its insights in architecture and world history. An intriguing map of medieval African cities looks like a WHS map with names such as Mapungubwe, Kilwa, Marrakech and Ghadames. At least those seem well-represented on the List.

What about ‘modern’ cities? Casablanca is brought forward in the book for its urban planning and origin of the term ‘bidonville’. It’s on Morocco’s Tentative List, although its future track is unsure as Rabat’s Ville Nouvelle has already been brought forward relatively recently. African metropolises such as Kinshasa and Johannesburg have had to develop their own solutions for urban growth, though no outstanding example of this jumps out. To get away from the colonial bias and the difficult issue of ‘shared heritage’, one would be looking for architecture designed by Africans for Africans in African circumstances. The author critically looks upon the many preserved colonial fortresses, which seem to get more funding by the former colonizers than strictly African sites.

Few outstanding individual buildings are discussed in the book (which is more about urban planning). Noteworthy though are the Kaedi hospital (Mauretania), Gando school and the Koudougou central market (both Burkina Faso). The first two were designed by African architects. They are among the very few Subsaharan African constructions in the wider Islamic world awarded with the Aga Khan award for Architecture. None of them are TWHS, so there might be something to gain here.

Published 18 February 2018 Leave a Comment

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