World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Forum: Start | Profile | Search |         Website: Start | The List | Community |
General discussions about WHS Forum / General discussions about WHS /  

"Modern" Architecture on Tentative Lsts

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 9 Feb 2014 14:04 | Edited by: Solivagant 
With 1570 sites on the T List it is hardly surprising that some of them fail to "surface" in our consciousness - or mine at least!

We have discussed a number of T List sites covering various aspects of 20C architecture -in particular the "active" nominations for FL Wright and Le Corbusier but there are a fair number more and I feel it is worth having a separate "topic" for the entire subject. A number of us are interested in 20C architecture and have often discussed whether it is adequately represented both on the inscribed list but also in terms of upcoming "potential" on the T List. The subject has arisen regarding the "Top 50 missing" as well of course

My immediate reason for doing so is the fact that the possible "resurrection" of the "Havana Ballet School" has just been mentioned on the news. Apparently the Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta, who is with the UK Royal Ballet, is trying push the subject forward

Not into Ballet? Me neither really, but I have just followed up this piece of "news" with a bit of Googling and was surprised to discover that the building for this institution is on Cuba's T List under the title of "National Schools of Art - Cubanacan"

Apparently the building of these schools was initiated soon after the Cuban Revolution but fell foul of subsequent "Anti-bourgeois" Soviet views on architecture and was abandoned (despite Castro having been involved in the initial concept). The Cuban government now seems inclined to restore the complex and even Norman Foster has been involved - which has upset the Italian Architect of the Ballet School who is still alive - Vittorio Garatti. He even spent time under arrest in Cuba for "spying" at the time of the ideological dispute and doesn't want Foster et al muscling on on his design!

Reading the Cuban supplied description from the UNESCO T List gives no hint at all of this history.
If you are interested in discovering more see Wiiki for a start
and here

Author vantcj1
#2 | Posted: 9 Feb 2014 18:01 
As an architect, the development of Architecture from the late 18th century (Ledoux, Durand, Boulle) to the great masters of the Modern Movement (Le Corbusier, Gropius, Alato, Nervi, Mies van der Rohe, Mendelsohn) to what is appearing now in the's something I'm really passionate about. And the list has so few sites (even T list entries) of this category...that I think there is a lot of room to go.

When I think of unrepresented niches, the colombian Rogelio Salmona comes to my mind. Unfortunately, Colombia has in its T list only an entry for the Virgilio Barco Library, that is an excelent work of art, and it's like if Spain nominated now the Bilbao Guggenheim, France nominated the Parc de la Villette, or the US nominated Richard Meier's Atheneum of New Harmony. More than being too recent, I think that a more comprehensive nomination (not too extended like Le Corbusier's entire body of work) would be best.

The University City of Bogotá is also a fine T list entry, in Latin America the creation of university campuses was a representation of modernity and an embodyment of a lot of principles that began to be represented after the struggles in Córdoba, Argentina, in 1918 for university autonomy URL. That's why there are this kind of campuses in most of Latin America, we of course have seen the cases of the UNAM in Mexico, and the UCV in Caracas. Same happens in Bogotá, Buenos Aires and even the University of Costa Rica central campus, in San Pedro, comes from this spirit.

Which is I think the most important think to understand about the Modern Movement: it was basically moved by an ideal to transform society in a progressive way through architecture and urban planning. And this implied making a rational use of resources, the use of modern constructive systems and materials in a honest way, allowing good lightning and ventilation conditions in the buildings, and functional segregation of spaces.

Just to finish, there are so many categories poorly represented (or not at all) even in T lists. Like skyscrapers, Los Angeles modernism (Neutra, Schindler, the Eames, Koenig), Chicago school of course, architecture from 1950 on (with the exception of Utzon's Sydney Opera), Russian constructivism and rationalism, Japanese metabolism, hyperbolic paraboloids, tensile architecture, Postmodernism, High Tech, etc.

Author Solivagant
#3 | Posted: 10 Feb 2014 02:46 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Thanks for those insights vantcj1. Especially why Latin America "goes" for "Unversity Cities!

You have provided me with another example of sites hidden away (to my knowledge!) on the T List - I wasn't aware of the nature of the Virgilio Barco Library (only completed in 2003). I note with some surprise that the UNESCO Web site entry for it (presumably written by Colombia) only compares it with the Barragan and Horta houses - are they really the most appropriate? I note that they are inscribed under at least crirerion i and iv whereas only i is claimed for the library. Mind you it would be "in good company". I have just checked and only 3 sites are inscribed SOLELY on Criterion i - The Sydey Opera House, Preah Vihear and .. the Taj Mahal! Indeed the Sydney Opera House would seem to be a better comparator? I quote from the Colombian proposal "its spatial conception, its subtle integration with the city in spite of the latter's physical isolation from its immediate urban context, the expressiveness achieved with the use of material ... and the offer of experiences and alternatives of use that go beyond the specific architectural programs for this type of projects." Could equally apply to the SOH?

Just to finish, there are so many categories poorly represented (or not at all) even in T lists. Like........ hyperbolic paraboloids,

What do you have in mind here? We do have a number of existing WHS "connected" to Hyperbolic structure" identified among our "Connections - including 2 in Latin America.

Author Solivagant
#4 | Posted: 12 Feb 2014 03:21 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I have done a trawl through the T List to identify those related to "Modern Architecture". It is possible I have missed some and I have left out a few which, although 20C, are really on the list because of what happened there than because the architecture is of any interest (USA - Civil Rights sites, Dayton Aviation sites, SA - Liberation Heritage Route , Zam - Dag Hammarskjoeld crash site). I also missed out a few "agricultural"/produce cultural landscapes (Bananas, Cocoa and Cattle/meat) which include some 20C structures but are not primarily so

So - 31 sites. I have shown the dates and architects as well as links to either this Web site or, if nothing much there. to elsewhere. A few points which immediately occur to me -
a. A lot from Latin America - 11
b. A lot of "Le Corbusier" - 5!
c. Remarkably few related to industry, technology, transport etc which is surely a significant aspect of what the 20th C was about. Just 2 factories, a TV transmitter and a Radio telescope. I included Senegal's "Aeropostal" but, as far as I can see, very little of the infrastructure is left
d. A lack of "housing" for "ordinary" people! Garden Suburbs, New towns etc
e. Not many really across all countries and 1570 sites on the T List. And there are all those "duplicate" castles, churches, tombs and temples etc

Casa Curutchet 1953/Le Corbusier

Francysk Scaryna Avenue in Minsk 1940's/50's

Maison Guiette Antwerp 1926/Le Corbusier

Pampulha 1940's/Niemeyer
Rio – Ministry of Education and Helth 1937-45/Le Corbusier, Niemeyer, Marx et al alth.html

University City of Bogota 1936/Rother et al
Vigilio Barco Library 1999-2003/Salmona bia.html

National Schools of Art Cubanacan 1960s/Porro,gottardi, Garatti

Czech Rep
Ještěd Mountain Top Hotel and TV transmitter 1963-8/ Hubáček

Asmara 1930s/Various cture-of-asmara/

Paimo Hospital 1930-33/Aalto

L'oeuvre architecturale et urbaine de Le Corbusier 1923-46

Deux maisons du Weissenhof-Siedlung 1927 /Le Corbusier
Speicherstadt and Chilehaus 1920s/Hoger

Ödön Lechner's independent pre-modern architecture 1890s/1900s

Mumbai Victorian & Art Deco 1920s- 40s/Various
Urban and Architectural Work of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh 1950s

National Museum of Western Art 1958/Le Corbusier

Rivera/Kahlo Home 1931
Las Posas Xilitla 1960s-70s/James

Van Nelle Factory 1925-31/v der Vlugt
Sanatorium Zonnestraal ('Sunray') Hilversum 1926-31/Duiker

Rjukan etc Industrial Heritage Sites, Hydro Powered Industries Early 20C/Various

Aeropostal 1920s/Various

Franja Partisan hospital 1943/?

Oeuvre urbaine et architecturale de Le Corbusier 1912

Jodrell Bank Observatory 1957

Montevideo's 20C Architecture 1920s-50s/various
Work of Engineer Eladio Dilesete
Palacio Legislativo 1904-25/Meano & Moretti

Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings 1908-69

Author hubert
#5 | Posted: 12 Feb 2014 04:26 | Edited by: hubert 
An interesting list, and only a few sites from recent decades (1960+).
And, apart from Jested, there are no sites representing modern technological developments like TV, radio, computer, energy supply etc. This is a thematic gap that is not mentioned in the filling-the-gap-report, if I remember correctly.

After a cursory view, I would suggest to add:
Ivrea, industrial city of the 20th century

and withdraw:
Slovenia: Franja Partisan hospital 1943/?, as it is not significant by its architectural value:

Author Solivagant
#6 | Posted: 12 Feb 2014 04:48 | Edited by: Solivagant 
And, apart from Jested, there are no sites representing modern technological developments

UK's Jodrell Bank??

Thanks for the correction re Ivrea.

Author hubert
#7 | Posted: 12 Feb 2014 04:52 
UK's Jodrell Bank??

You're right, so we have two in this category.

Author Solivagant
#8 | Posted: 12 Feb 2014 05:40 | Edited by: Solivagant 
energy supply etc

I have just remembered that the Norwegian site of course includes Hydro Power Stations - So that is a 3rd "Technology" site. But still remarkably little for the "Century of Technology". I suspect that the problems are manifold
a. Not enough imagination to consider nominating them
b. Lack of "authenticity" in what remains -"technology" moves apace and last decade's "novelty" gets knocked down for this one's!
c. Reluctance of owners to allow nomination where the site is still being used in some way (or could be sold at a good price)
d. The main "claim to fame" of many such potential sites is that something was discovered, first developed etc at the site. UNESCO has been pretty hard on other such nominated sites - refusing to accept that fact as a valid argument for inscription - e.g UK's Darwin site. I can't off-hand find the links but there has been talk in UK of nominating Alexandra Palace -site of the World's first regular public TV broadcasts and Bletchley Park - site of world's first programmable electronic computer ("Colossus"). But each suffers under b above and e below as well!
e. That much of the plant is "moveable" and may now well be in musea leaving a shell of a building now carrying out other duties.

Our "50 missing" list has the Ford River Rouge Plant. I looked into it to decide whether it "deserved" a vote - but this lnk didn't seem very fruitful re authenticity!

Author Khuft
#9 | Posted: 12 Feb 2014 14:23 
found another one - casablanca, city of the XX century

Author hubert
#10 | Posted: 12 Feb 2014 14:30 
I suspect that the problems are manifold

Perfect analysis. For many potential WHS there would be a conflict between preservation in the original state and modernization or adaptation to a new purpose.

To give a few examples from my knowledge:
For the new German T-List, a proposal from Berlin was discussed, but rejected: Elektropolis Berlin, which comprises power plants, transformer stations, factories (AEG and Siemens) etc from the early 20th Century. Some of them are still in use with modernized technical facilities, others have been converted to cultural centers, office buildings or event venues. It is not always possible to maintain such sites as a museum and it seems reasonable to use them for other purposes to preserve the buildings. In Germany (like in many other countries, I suppose), the laws for preservation of heritage (Denkmalschutz) mainly protect the buildings itself.
The best known building of "Elektropolis Berlin" is the AEG turbine factory (Turbinenhalle) by Peter Behrens. It was built more than 100 years ago and is still used for the original purpose, evidence for the quality of the construction. dex.shtml

An example in the category radio/TV, also from Berlin:
The "Haus des Rundfunks", one of the first broadcasting centers that was specifically constructed for this purpose. The large broadcasting studio uses the equipment from 1959, the second broadcasting studio is still in the original state of 1931, the studios for radio plays have been renewed in 2005. I had an interesting guided tour several years ago. But a nomination is unlikely, after an inscription it would hardly be possible to make any changes and modifications.

And an example where a nomination would be possible, but has not been considered yet:
Stuttgart TV Tower, the first tower of its kind built from reinforced concrete and trend-setting for subsequent constructions. And in my eyes, it is also the most beautiful and harmonious TV tower.

Finally, two examples for energy supply that comes to my mind, though I'm not sure if they are good examples for their category:
Hydropower – Hoover dam (Arizona/Nevada)
Nuclear Power - Experimental Breeder Reactor I, Idaho (US National Historic Landmark), the first electricity-generating nuclear power plant

Author winterkjm
#11 | Posted: 12 Feb 2014 15:11 
Hoover Dam will likely never come before UNESCO. Primarily for its adverse effect on the Colorado River Delta.

Author Assif
#12 | Posted: 14 Feb 2014 08:51 
Degania and Nahalal on the Israeli T-list are also 20th Century architecture.

Author vantcj1
#13 | Posted: 15 Feb 2014 22:28 
The AEG Turbine Factory is indeed a watershed of architecture, and it exerted a lot of influence on Gropius' own Fagus Factory, and the Neue Sachlichkeit movement as a whole. So bad this didn't pass to the next level of selection. I also think the Artists' Colony of Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt may apply, it expresses well the controversies and trends of the turn of the century, which led to the Modern Movement, from Sezession to Mutesius. Olbrich and Behrens have works in it. Not in T List either, but it is/was a candidate for Hesse. And also the Garden City in Hellerau, a work mainly of Heinrich Tessenow.

Author vantcj1
#14 | Posted: 15 Feb 2014 23:09 | Edited by: vantcj1 
Sorry for answering until now, Solivagant, I have had a very demanding week.
On your comment on Virgilio Barco Library, I do think that the body of work of Rogelio Salmona is outstanding, but as I seed I would rather choose a few more works which are a travel of half a century between the most orthodox expansion of the International Style in the world, to almost the present day, in which I think Salmona was quite perceptive to bring an alternative within modernity, as Barragán did for example.

I don't think that Criterion i may apply solely, I would rather go for iv and maybe iii. I want to expand a little bit further on why criterion iii: I think it expresses with supremacy the change of focus in the urban spaces from the 1960s on: the change from a centrally designed-centered on the auto planification, to more participative, socially and espacially integrated approach. Thats why:
its spatial conception, its subtle integration with the city in spite of the latter's physical isolation from its immediate urban context, the expressiveness achieved with the use of material ... and the offer of experiences and alternatives of use that go beyond the specific architectural programs for this type of projects
is a great wording for what I think is outstanding in it. And that is an expression of the modern urban society in the world, that's why I would go for iii, and of course iv.

But I don't think I would apply that same words to the Sydney Opera, it's influence is based more on being revolutionary on structural and aesthetic aspects. So...if I were in the colombian board of heritage, I would have gone for other approach based on the wording of the justification of universal value, definitively not criterion i.

Barragán applies in a sense as a comparator, but by rendering a regional alternative to the Modern Movement, that is by the way, very Bogotan. Barragan's work is a lot more cryptic, and developed throughout private residences, but Salmona also bringed in many of his works the let's say 'mysterious' aura that Barragán is known for: the play of colors, materials, light and shadows that also Tadao Ando has. In and out of WH sites as comparators, the works of the late Le Corbusier (Salmona worked in his studio), Arab architecture, Precolumbian mesoamerican architecture, Tadao Ando's works, and cultural centers throughout the world that are based on those principles (Sendai Mediatheque, Centre Georges Pompidou, Jean-Marie Tjibaou, the examples in Medellín, and many others), are even better comparators. Virgilio Barco Library is in the intersection of those diverse influences.

As I said, important as it is, I would rather nominate a little larger body of work: Torres del Parque, Nueva Santa Fe, National Archive, the Guest House in Cartagena, Quimbayá Museum in Armenia, and the Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Center. But of course, that's not up to me. Those would balance the fact that the library is way too recent, by showing an evolution towards what is now becoming common practice in the architectural field. That's for me the most important side of Salmona, not creating iconic-perfect for pictures architecture, like Brasilia, but predicting and influencing a wave of more liveable, socially integrating architecture. And well, that's the sign of the times.

General discussions about WHS Forum / General discussions about WHS /
 "Modern" Architecture on Tentative Lsts

Your Reply Click this icon to move up to the quoted message

Only registered users are allowed to post here. Please, enter your username/password details upon posting a message, or register first. Forum Powered by Chat Forum Software miniBB ®