Decision : 40 COM 8B.33
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 the Pampulha Modern Ensemble, Brazil, on the World Heritage List as a cultural landscape on the basis of criteria (i), (ii) and (iv);
- Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
Designed in 1940 around an artificial lake, the Pampulha ensemble, of four buildings set within landscaped grounds, was a centre for leisure and culture in the ‘garden city’ neighbourhood of Belo Horizonte, built as the new capital of Minas Gérais State.
The Casino, Ballroom, Golf Yacht Club and São Francisco De Assis Church, were designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer who, working in collaboration with engineer Joaquim Cardozo, and artists including Cândido Portinari, created bold forms that exploited the plastic potential of concrete, and integrated the plastic arts such as ceramics and sculpture. Landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx reinforced the links between the buildings and their natural landscapes through designed gardens and a circuit of walkable spaces to reflect a dialogue with nature that emphasized the buildings as special pictures mirrored in the lake.
The Ensemble reflects the way principles of modern architecture that had evolved in the first decades of the 20th century were freed from rigid constructivism and adapted organically to reflect local traditions, the Brazilian climate and natural surroundings. Through a dynamic collaboration between various innovative artists in their respective fields of activity, the Ensemble pioneered a contextual approach in which a new fluid modern architectural language was fused with the plastic arts and design, and responded to its landscape context.
This new synthesis that evolved at Pampulha made Brazilian modern architecture widely known through for instance the exhibition ‘Brazil Builds. Architecture new and old (1652-1942)’, held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1943. The new architectural language proved highly influential in responding to emerging national identities in South America.
The Casino is now the Pampulha art museum, the Ballroom is the Centre of Reference in Urbanism, Architecture and Design, the Golf Yacht Club is the Yacht Tennis Club, and the São Francisco De Assis Church remains in use as a church. Beyond the four buildings and their linking board walk, the original concept of the garden city neighbourhood still persists in the encircling Avenue with its green grass edges and beyond in the low rise detached houses in spacious gardens which collectively provide an overall rationale and context for the four buildings.
Criterion (i): Niemeyer, Burle Marx and Portinari collectively delivered a landscape ensemble that as a whole is an outstanding for the way it manifests a new fluid modern architectural language fused with the plastic arts and design, and one that interacts with its landscape context.
Criterion (ii): The Pampulha Modern Ensemble was linked to reciprocal influences between European and North America and the Latin American periphery and particularly to a poetic reaction to the perceived austerity of modern European architecture.
In establishing a synthesis between local regional practices and universal trends, as well as fostering dynamic links between architecture, landscape design and the plastic arts, Pampulha inaugurated a new direction in modern architecture which subsequently was used to assert new national identities in recently independent Latin American countries.
Criterion (iv): The Pampulha ensemble and its innovative architectural and landscape concepts reflects a particular stage in architectural history in South America, which in turn reflects wider socio-economic changes in society beyond the region. The economic crises of 1929 prompted demands for people to have greater inclusion in nation building. These circumstances influenced the design of the new garden city neighbourhood of Belo Horizonte as a place that could reflect creative and cultural ‘autonomy’ through innovative architectural buildings designed for public use, set in a designed ‘natural’ landscape, well endowed with public spaces for leisure and exercise.
The boundaries of the Ensemble reflect the original design of the cultural centre around the new lake and include the four main buildings and most of their surrounding landscapes, both designed and natural. Only the west part of the lake is excluded from the boundaries. The ensemble as a whole can be seen as sufficiently intact. The four buildings still maintain a good relationship with each other, with the lake which they face, and with the garden city neighbourhood to their rear.
In terms of the overall design concept for the ensemble, which gives it a coherence, it is impossible in visual terms to separate the green areas on both sides of the encircling road from the ensemble. The 10 metre green area on the far side of the road and the first row of houses beyond are part of the coherence of the ensemble and need to be managed as such to sustain the integrity of the whole.
Three of the individual components, the Casino, the Ballroom and the Church are individually intact in terms of the way they reflect all their original architectural features, while two of them, the Casino and the Ballroom are also set in designed landscape gardens that reflect their original designs. For the Church, currently only part of its Burle Marx landscape has been restored, but there is a commitment for the remaining part of the landscape in Dino Barbieri Square to be re-configured to respect Burle Marx’s original designs.
The fourth component, the Yacht Club, is currently compromised by internal alterations, and recent additions, and by the lack of its Burle Marx designed landscape. There is a commitment to carry out the necessary restoration work to allow the Club building to once more express its original architectural and decorative designs and for it to be reunited with its designed landscape and lake frontage.
Pollution of the lake remains an issue, in relation to the idea of a beautiful landscape that provides leisure activities especially related to the water. This issue should be addressed in order that the lake can be reinstated as the element that binds together the buildings and designed landscapes and provides recreation.
In terms of visual integrity, the presence of two gigantic sport facilities very close to the property impact on views of the Church from the lake. Their impact needs to be mitigated through remedial work in the landscape.
If the fusion of architecture with other arts is to be fully understood, there is a need for the restoration of the Burle Marx landscapes which are a crucial aspect of the ensemble. In only two of the components (Casino and Ballroom) have the gardens been completely researched and restored. For the other two components, part of the Church garden has been restored but not the arboretum to the rear of the Church in Dino Barbieri Square, and no work has yet been done on the Yacht Club landscaping (although documentation survives). There is a commitment to address these issues and undertake necessary restoration work on the gardens.
In terms of buildings, the authenticity of the Yacht Club has been weakened by the heavy modification to the design, particularly by additional buildings which need to be removed, by inserted internal partitions and by the removal of some of its decorative elements. And the authenticity of the Ballroom has been impacted upon by the new entrance, which needs to be removed and the original one recreated. There are now commitments to undertake necessary restoration and reinstatement projects to reverse these changes and strengthen the authenticity of both these components.
The low-rise, low density housing in the surrounding ‘Garden city’ neighbourhood is vulnerable to changing uses and development, such as the large hotel near the Yacht Club, and these could impact adversely on the immediate landscape setting of the property.
Protection and management and requirements
The property is protected at national, state and local level. At the National level, the ensemble of buildings and landscape (which includes parts of the buffer zone) were protected in 1997 by IPHAN (National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute). At the Regional level, the ensemble also, since 1984, has had State level protection under the IEPHA-MG (State Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage of Minas Gerais). In 2003 protection was also given to the surrounding perimeter which covers most of the buffer zone, but excludes some portions to the east and southwest. At the local level, the individual buildings have local protection.
The Master Plan of Belo Horizonte, 2010, defines the planning zones for the city. The buffer zone and the wider setting beyond it are in various restrictive zones. However, some of these are protected for environmental reasons, such as those encompassing the parks and the part of the lake in the buffer zone, while areas around the stadia are delineated as ‘large equipment’ zones and further areas are designated as ‘favourable densification’ zones or for ‘large scale community facilities’. A further planning restriction is provided by the Special Planning Guidelines’ Area (ADE).
In order to protect the context for the designed ensemble as the core of a garden city neighbourhood, strengthened protection and specific restrictions need to be put in place for the buffer zone that reflect its cultural value as an essential context for the designed ensemble.
A Management Plan sets out a matrix of responsibilities. This plan needs to be augmented to provide strategic guidelines that can over-arch management and decision making as formal commitments to progress in key areas, and to provide a clear enough understanding of the challenges of protecting not just the key buildings in their landscape setting but also the essential characteristics of the traditional neighbourhoods that complement the ensemble and together form a complex historic urban landscape. The Plan also needs to provide a more targeted set of monitoring indicators that relate to the defined attributes of Outstanding Universal Value.
In order to bring together the main stakeholders of the property and its buffer zone, the government has created a Committee in which all three levels of government participate. It has the mandate to set the guidelines for the execution of the Management Plan and to promote the execution of actions by the different levels of government and municipal authorities with jurisdiction over the ensemble. Within the Municipality, there is a management group that deals with day-to-day management. This brings together those responsible for the buildings and those with responsibilities for the boardwalk and lake – currently within different departments.
Only 45% of the Pampulha Basin is within Belo Horizonte Municipality, while the remainder is within the Contagem Municipality. Although the Contagem Municipality participates in the Recuperation of the Pampulha Basin programme, which deals with environmental issues, its participation needs to be extended to cultural aspects as well.
- Recommends that the State Party, with the support of ICOMOS if requested, give consideration to the following:
- implementing the work set out in the Intervention Plan to:
- restore the Yacht Club building and its designed landscape,
- draw up a new design for Dino Barbieri Square to reflect Burle Marx’s designs and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies,
- once approved, implement the design for Dino Barbieri Square,
- restore the original entrance to the Ballroom,
- improve the water quality of the Lake to recreational standards, according to the planned timescale;
- augmenting the Management Plan to:
- include strategic guidelines that can over-arch management and decision making as formal commitments to progress in key areas,
- encompass more clearly the challenges of protecting not just the key buildings in their landscape setting but also the essential characteristics of the traditional neighbourhoods that complement the ensemble,
- adopt a Historic Urban Landscape approach to sustaining traditional neighbourhoods,
- include a tourism strategy,
- include detailed monitoring indicators that relate to the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value,
- strengthen the involvement of local communities in the management processes;
- strengthening :
- protection and planning controls on the first block of houses beyond the Avenue and facing the Lake in order that they provide an appropriate context for the Ensemble,
- protection in the buffer zone so that land facing and adjoining the lake provides a green backdrop to the water;
- considering providing an improved translation of the nomination dossier;
- implementing the work set out in the Intervention Plan to:
- Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2017 a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.