Decision : 40 COM 8B.32
Examination of nominations of cultural properties to the World Heritage List
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Documents WHC/16/40.COM/8B and WHC/16/40.COM/INF.8B1,
- Inscribes Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites, Antigua and Barbuda, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii) and (iv);
- Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
The Antigua Naval Dockyard and its Related Archaeological Sites consists of a group of Georgian Naval structures, set within a walled enclosure, on a naturally-occurring series of deep narrow bays surrounded by highlands on which defensive fortifications were constructed. The Dockyard and its related facilities were built at a time when European nations were battling for supremacy of the seas to obtain control over the lucrative sugar-producing islands of the Eastern Caribbean. Antigua’s location as a front-line naval dockyard facility gave the British navy a strategic advantage over its rivals at a crucial point in history.
The construction and operation of the Antigua Naval Dockyard were made possible through the labour and skills of enslaved Africans, whose contribution was crucial for the establishment of the facility and, more widely, for the development of the British Empire, trade and industrialisation.
Criterion (ii): The Antigua Naval Dockyard and its Related Archaeological Sites exhibit an important exchange of human values over a span of time within the Caribbean and between this region and the rest of the Commonwealth, on developments in architecture, technology and exploitation of natural topographical features for strategic military purposes. The enslaved Africans toiling in the service of the British navy and army built and worked the facilities that were critical to the development of the British Empire, trade and industrialisation. The Georgian Period buildings and the archaeological structures and remains stand as testimony to their efforts and continue to influence the architectural, social and economic development of their descendants.
The Antigua Naval Dockyard exceptionally shows how British Admiralty building prototypes were adapted to cope with extremes of climate, and the lessons learnt in the Caribbean in erecting such buildings were subsequently successfully applied in other colonies. Among the most prominent witnesses of this interchange, Clarence House demonstrates how English Georgian architecture was modified to suit the hot tropical climate and to counter the threat of disease, and the emergence of a distinctly colonial Caribbean Georgian architecture; and the Officers’ Quarters and the Senior Officer’s House demonstrate how building forms were adapted, by the addition of features such as storm shutters and verandas, to suit the climate of the Caribbean. Few other sites demonstrate this transition from British prototypes to the use of colonial building forms as clearly as the Antigua Naval Dockyard.
Criterion (iv): The ensemble of the Antigua Naval Dockyard and its Related Archaeological Sites were laid down and built exploiting the natural attributes of the area (the deep waters of English Harbour, the series of hills protecting the bay, the jagged contours of the coastline, and the narrow entrance) in a period when European powers were at war to expand their spheres of influence in the Caribbean. Altogether, the property represents an outstanding example of a Georgian naval facility in the Caribbean context.
The Antigua Naval Dockyard and its Related Archaeological Sites demonstrate the process of colonisation and the global spread of ideas, building forms and technologies by a leading naval power in the 18th century, as well as the exploitation of favourable geo-morphological features for the construction and defence of a strategic compound.
The inscribed area (255 ha) coincides with the former Naval Dockyard installations and its related former supporting/defensive compounds, which have been in continuous use since 1725. The partially-walled Dockyard includes an important number of historical buildings, whereas the related former supporting/defensive compounds comprise several structures nowadays reduced to archaeological remains. The property still retains its visual integrity and the visual relationships and dynamics between the Dockyard complex (down at sea level) and the former military structures (in the surrounding hills) are still recognizable. Most of the buildings at the Dockyard have either been restored/repaired (fairly recently) or are scheduled to undergo restoration in the near future. On the other hand, archaeological structures outside the Dockyard exhibit an uneven state of conservation that will benefit from a comprehensive conservation strategy based on the adoption of a minimal intervention approach.
The Dockyard is located on its original site and continues to be embedded in the same original setting. The buildings within were all originally built between the 18th and 19th centuries and retain their original form and design. Most of them even retain their use and function, and those which do not are used for similar and/or compatible functions. The authenticity of the property in terms of materials, craftsmanship and design will benefit from a continuous cooperation amongst conservation architects, architectural historians and archaeologists in the conception of conservation programmes, projects and works. Archaeological remains are still embedded in a setting which is comparable to the original one; many of the fortifications and supporting facilities retain their original materials and their visual interrelations. Their form and design have not been altered and can be appreciated through archaeology, historical research, consolidation, stabilization and interpretation. The informative potential of archaeological vestiges is overall retained; however, protection and maintenance strategies should be set up in order to avoid further loss of historic substance.
Protection and management requirements
The Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites have been protected as a National Park since 1984 under the National Parks Act and managed by the National Parks Authority (NPA). Further means of legal protection are obtained by the recently approved new ‘Environmental Management Bill’ (2015) the forthcoming new ‘Heritage Act’, the ‘Physical Planning Act’ (2003), and the ‘Land Use or Physical Development Plan for Antigua and Barbuda’, which defines and establishes zones for appropriate land use. Building Guidelines have been designed to orient conservation interventions of historical buildings and archaeological remains and to set standards for new architecture and new guidelines; high standards regarding the Dockyard’s potential Underwater Cultural Heritage are also needed.
The system relies on the National Parks Development and Management Plan, which is specifically prepared under the provisions of sub-section 10 (2) of the Antigua and Barbuda National Parks Act (1984). The Management Plan, with its objectives and its operational instruments (land use zoning plan, action plan, conservation plan, marketing plan, guidelines, etc.) forms an integrated management framework that needs to focus on the Outstanding Universal Value of the Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites so as to ensure its effective management as a World Heritage property.
- Recommends that the State Party gives consideration to the following:
- approving the revision of the land-use zone plan as illustrated in the map submitted in the additional information provided in February 2016 so that it is aligned with the main aim of safeguarding the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and the attributes supporting it,
- completing the revision of the Management Plan so as to focus it on the sustenance of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and to ensure that it is complemented by:
- revised building guidelines for the conservation of the built and archaeological structures and compatible new design that would assist in managing effectively the property and its values,
- a Heritage Impact Assessment approach for all development projects concerning the property and its buffer zone,
- a scientific study to assess the carrying capacity of the property for tourism and related pressures and a tourism and visitor strategy,
- an interpretation programme for the restored structures with improved signage,
- an improved monitoring system with appropriate indicators;
- approving and putting into effect the new Heritage Act as soon as possible,
- completing the comprehensive conservation and maintenance programme for the structures and archaeological remains, taking into account the specific contribution of each of the heritage resources in conveying the property's Outstanding Universal Value and complementing it with graphic technical documentation of the historic/ archaeological structures within the property, as baseline information;
- Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2017 a comprehensive and updated report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for review by ICOMOS.