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What are they doing all day in Paris anyway? Forum / What are they doing all day in Paris anyway? /  

Sites in Danger of being de-listed

Author Khuft
#1 | Posted: 18 May 2009 17:47 | Edited by: Khuft 
Since this topic is gaining popularity with the Dresden Elbe Valley drama, I thought it may make sense to put it separately.

Here's one more to add to Dresden, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and others: George Town, Malaysia.

Author Assif
#2 | Posted: 19 May 2009 02:19 
This could make up a connection!

Author elsslots
#3 | Posted: 26 May 2009 13:59 
I don't think the George Town site is really in danger of being delisted at the moment. There are several stages and warnings it has to go through first, they will get time.
So no connection either.

Author meltwaterfalls
#4 | Posted: 27 May 2009 09:18 
A lot of authorities who look after sites also use the idea of being taken off the list as a way of rejection/ slowing down or allocating blame to. Edinburgh Council seems to be very adept and wheeling out the de-listing excuse for any number of small things, if I remember correctly problems with collection of rubbish and updating road signs were attributed to preserving World Heritage Status.

Author Nem
#5 | Posted: 9 Jun 2009 05:44 

Author obordo
#6 | Posted: 15 Jun 2009 13:03 
There seems to be no comment at all on the case of Bordeaux and its giant drawbridge project (pont Bacalan-Bastide) - Hauled over the coals last year by the 2008 committee in Quebec - they considered it "an inadequate solution that would have a significant impact on the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property and that would be very difficult to reverse" - reinforced monitoring, impact study, reactive monitoring mission etc. etc. - the regional press a few weeks ago revealed that Unesco may be about to suggest accepting this year the project it decried so strongly a year ago, the only modification being a very slight reduction in the height of the pillars supporting the bridge - No serious study of the tunnel alternative which preserves the site and the long-term port activity - Is Unesco really going to contradict itself to this point ?....... And why ? Pressure from Paris ? Bordeaux's mayor is the ex- prime minister Alain Juppé - and he wants the bridge at any cost (even though he absolutely wanted a tunnel at the start ....) -
Will Unesco really let Bordeaux off so lightly ?

Author Nem
#7 | Posted: 15 Jun 2009 13:20 
Maybe because it's considered not as damaging to the OUV as the Dresden scheme?

Author Solivagant
#8 | Posted: 15 Jun 2009 15:18 | Edited by: Solivagant 
The trouble is that "OUV" is an impossible "thing" to define. It remains an achilles heel of the whole "World Heritage" concept as implemented by UNESCO - but the scheme was stuck with it right from the start. It attempts to apply objective criteria to matters which are inherently subjective and then claim some sort of superiority, or at least special place, for those places judged by a number of experts in the year 2000 (or whenever) to possess it. The WHC and ICOMOS/IUCN who got landed with the job of identifying and "marking" OUV have recognised this, hence the repeated attempts to put it on a better footing and the inexorable "stretching" of the concept. This link on this site leads to various background papers on the subject
But much of it sounds like people attempting to square the circle (and knowing that they are!!).

In retrospect it would have been better not to base the World Heritage Scheme on such a "meritocratic" concept of dividing the world's physical heritage into 2 camps - those "world class sites" which have adequate OUV and those less valuable ones which don't. Far better to have based it on acceptance of certain management and conservation approaches – a sort of heritage ISO9001 which is available (and its assessment outsourced?) to any site which is prepared to accept them, and drop all this pseudo beauty contest stuff about OUV.

In fact, relatively few sites fail now on the grounds of lack of adequate OUV -but rather on the management/preservation issues. It might be said that this is because those which don't possess it get weeded out early. But, reading the convoluted arguments in the ever lengthening nomination papers as to how some, in all honesty, relatively minor site possesses an OUV which justifies it being on the same list as the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids (and the publicity machines of aspiring and inscribed sites always use these as comparators as if trying in some way to bathe in the reflected glory of their light!) ...... you realise that a very large part of God's Earth and the articles of human endeavour within it can make out a reasonable case for possessing OUV – hence the introduction of the concept of "Representative" sites whose OUV isn't any different from 100s/1000s of similar sites around the World. In the BBC radio program about World Heritage we have discussed earlier, Mr Bandarin was waxing lyrical about the "cultural" OUV of Tongariro .... where there was no human artifact at all to see..... World Heritage as a metaphysical construct!

With the concept of OUV rendered so elastic I find it very difficult to accept that Dresden's "level" of OUV has been reduced below the acceptable threshold because of one extra bridge among many – let alone that Bordeaux's OUV has been preserved by reducing the height of some bridge pillar.

Author Nem
#9 | Posted: 16 Jun 2009 05:20 | Edited by: Nem 
Yes, conservation at all levels is complex and not all agree with the value judgements made by others. Look at the listing of buildings in the UK, as an example. It's pretty much the same.

But to anyone without a long involvement with conservation, and even at times for those who have, I can appreciate that it's rather hard to fathom the intricacies.

As for inscribed sites reflecting in the 'glory', I would suggest sites have their own interest. Personally I have less interest in the Pyramids, and far more in the glories of Bath. But I think it's not about a 'beauty contest', it's still about shared values, the ideals which connect all inscribed sites to be protected for all of humanity.

And as with all things which start off with a grand ideal, at times that ideal gets bogged down in details as time elapses, but the ideal is still not a bad one. It's just that some places are happy to have world heritage status possibly not for the right reasons, and less than pleased when the practicalities of conserving the site are realised.

Author Solivagant
#10 | Posted: 16 Jun 2009 18:08 | Edited by: Solivagant 
It looks as if Seville could become another "cause celebre" re Development v World Heritage - and even a potential delisting if UNESCO picks it up and runs with it!
At issue is a planned skyscraper - The Pelli Tower. (Pelli designed the Petronas towers. If constructed it would be the tallest buillding in Seville where, ironically, the inscribed Giralda Tower in its original manifestation as a minaret was once the tallest tower in the World)

The objections (you will find the usual blogs etc from objecting organisations/groups if you search on "Pelli Tower Seville") have a general conservation aspect re impact on Seville old town and a nearby Carthusian Monastery. But the issue of interest to this forum is that ICOMOS Spain seems to be concentrating on using the 3 buildings inscribed as World Heritage within Seville (which are some distance away from the proposed tower) as its main leverage against the development (Interestingly Seville hasn't used these 3 buildings to join OWHC and stake a claim to be a "World Heritage City" in its entirety!). That action is proposed in this report from ICOMOS Spain of late 2008 proposing that the Seville WHS be put on the "In Danger" list.

I wonder if this could be discussed at the WHC later this month - it isn't clear if this report was a formal one whose discussion at the WHC is "automatic"? Another report I found on the Web has indicated a start date for the tower of May this year so it is certainly a "current", even "urgent", issue! But, if so, it would all be a bit embarrassing really when they are holding the WHC in the very city which is potentially "at fault" and the Spanish rep is chairing the WH Committee which seems likely to delist Dresden!! Nb the proposed building is not only outside the inscribed area (it isn't clear if the 3 buildings also have a "buffer zone" but, as they were inscribed as long ago as 1987, it seems unlikely - the Advisory Body report doesn't mention one and nor, as far as I can see, does this one) but also outside the designated Historic Zone of the city. ICOMOS however still claims that such a development creates a "category of peril" to the inscribed site that should justify action. This is an interesting example of how the planning control "reach" potentially involved in a WHS inscription extends way beyond what many people might have expected - in this case to any building which can be seen from an inscribed site even if it is outside the buffer zone.

I have Googled another relevant document which might also be of interest as it contains some nice detail on how WHS status and documents are used as an argument against such developments and expands on why ICOMOS regard the spoilation of the view as being significant despite the tower being some distance away from the inscribed buildings - i.e old drawings etc of historic views - shades of Canaletto and Dresden!! The document is a letter from ICOMOS Spain of March 2009 to Ray Bondin (president of CIVVIH and a member of the ICOMOS executive) complaining about a response from Georges Zouain which unfortunately i can't find on the Web. He was once Deputy Director of the WHC Paris and is presumably still "well linked" into the WHC coterie. He is now a Heritage Consultant - see his CV here and then go to his company website and follow various links as your interest leads in order to get a feeling for the quite sizeable "opportunities" available within the heritage consultancy sector ! So the rather angry letter points out that "he heads a private firm hired by the company developing the skyscraper"!! It then gets quite "personal" and nasty (this seems to be common in heritage disputes!).

As the links show, I originally found each of these documents on the site of which is the Russian branch of ECOVAST = "European Council for the Village and Small Town" (most of its site is in Russian Cyrillic). Quite why they should be there I don't know - I later found the report itself via a CIAV newsletter of April 2009 on a Finnish site - but not the letter criticising Zouain. If you might want to refer to it in future it might be worth downloading it while you can!

Author Nem
#11 | Posted: 17 Jun 2009 12:32 | Edited by: Nem 
Ah yes, it's never a dull moment, conservation. And hell hath no fury like those who feel one of their number has gone to The Dark Side, having learned all the tricks of the trade in some worthy organisation, only then to move to something more lucrative (eg a well-paid job in private consultancy, working for developers, helping get unpalatable developments through the planning system).

No doubt Mr Z has given back as good as he got, and questioned everything from the academic probity to the parentage of the writer. All quite normal.

As for the rest, it happens on a daily basis, everywhere. Indeed, there's currently a public inquiry happening in a northern UK city, not a WHS, where buildings not listed, nor in a conservation area, are being defended by English Heritage as worthy of not being demolished as they are near a conservation area, should in fact be in a conservation area, as they affect the views in and out and setting of a conservation area and listed buildings elsewhere. That's despite the fact not long ago EH agreed they could go. Best not delve too deeply, for that way madness lies.

I suspect it's the same with brain surgery, equally as difficult to fathom, we only don't get to read too much about it all via google. It's probably just as well.

What are they doing all day in Paris anyway? Forum / What are they doing all day in Paris anyway? /
 Sites in Danger of being de-listed

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