1.         Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains (China) (C 705)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (i)(ii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/705/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/705/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Proposed lift-up project of Yuzhen Palace at the property

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/705/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

In response to reports received on the raising up of the structure of the Yuzhen Palace, the World Heritage Centre requested information on this project. This was provided by the State Party in a state of conservation report submitted on 28 January 2013.

Built between the 15th and 17th centuries, the Yuzhen Palace is part of the exceptionally large and well-preserved Taoist building complex within a picturesque mountain setting. Alongside the stone-walled Forbidden City, the Purple Heaven Palace, the Nanyang Palace and the Zhishi-Xuanyue Gateway, the Yuzhen Palace is one of the most notable of the 53 buildings spread across the slopes of Wudang Mountains.

The Yuzhen Palace lies on flat ground at the foot of the mountain and will be affected by the expansion of the Danjiangkou Reservoirin the framework of South-North Water Diversion Project implemented by the Government of China to optimize the allocation of water resources. As a result of raising the height of the Danjiangkou Dam, the water levels in the reservoir will rise between 8-19 meters and the Yuzhen Palace and other buildings will be in the submerged area. In order to ‘save’ the Palace, the South-North Water Diversion Project administration worked with cultural heritage departments of Hubei Province to formulate plans. Planning of the project started in 2007. Various options were considered including installing a cofferdam, in-situ lift-up and relocation. Taking account of the principles of conservation, safety, technical difficulties in construction, project cost, project risk and operability, and other constraints, the in-situ lift-up option was selected. This means that the Yuzhen Palace and its surrounding land will be elevated by 11-15 metres to exceed normal water level.

In 2010, once the lift option had been agreed in principle, the Wudang Mountains Special Zone of Hubei Province, the Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tsinghua University and the Wuhan Changjiang Institute of Survey, Planning, Design and Research jointly designed the project.

Three small-sized independent buildings, namely the main gate, the gates of the east and west palaces, will be lifted by 15 metres, while the other buildings will be dismantled and then reconstructed.

At the conclusion of the project, the Palace complex and its immediate surroundings will become an island of about 85,000 square metres within the reservoir. The area inside the wall of the Palace covers an area of 28,000 square metres, including the east palace ruins of 7,700 square metres, the west palace ruins of 11,822 square metres, and the central palace accounting for 8,400 square metres.

Work on the project has started, as the first phase of the reservoir project that would lead to the increase in water levels is due for completion by the end of 2013.

Other matters

The State Party reports that since 2004, they have initiated and completed over 10 major maintenance projects, such as the Tablet Tower of Yuxu Palace, Xuanyue Memorial Gateway etc. These projects not only addressed potential safety hazards, but also strengthened the conservation team and allowed to accumulate experience on project management. They have been carried out with advice of consultants from the Central South Architectural Design Institute, and from universities. The report also provides details on other activities carried out at the property.

 

The State Party also reports that the Wudang Mountains Special Tourism and Economic Zone, under the support of State Administration of Cultural Heritage, has contracted the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage and Ancient Architecture Protection Centre of Hubei Province to develop a Master Plan for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Wudang Mountains.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that although the Yuzhen Palace project has been planned since 2007, no details were provided to the World Heritage Committee before work commenced in summer 2012, as provided for by Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. Thus there has been no opportunity for the Advisory Bodies to comment on this project before work is almost complete.

Although the structure of the Yuzhen Palace will be saved, its relationship with the surroundings will be altered. When built, it was surrounded by mountains and looked out across farmland to a channel of the Shuimo River. It was also the centre of a large monastic complex. After the conclusion of the project, the Palace will become an island in the waters of the reservoir. In spite of it being stated that the project will preserve the integrity and authenticity of the Palace, the relationship of the Palace to the other components of the property and to the overall landscape would be compromised by these alterations.

 

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies take note that the State Party is considering inviting an advisory mission to the property. They believe that a dialogue is needed on site as soon as possible, either through an advisory mission or through a reactive monitoring mission after the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee, to allow a full understanding of the potential negative impact of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, notwithstanding the care with which the mechanics of the project have been addressed, in relation to the component parts of the Palace. Such a mission should also address how the issues that have been raised by this project, in connection with the inter-relationship of the buildings within the property to each other and to the landscape, can be addressed within the proposed Management Plan.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7B.60

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B,

2.  Recalling Decision 28 COM 15B.62 , adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),

3.  Notes with concern that a project to raise the Yuzhen Palace above the levels of the raised Danjiangkou Reservoir was planned in 2007 and implemented since 2012 without details being provided to the World Heritage Committee,  in accordance with Paragraph 172 of Operational Guidelines ;

4.  Also notes that as result of the project, the Yuzhen Palace will become an island within the enlarged reservoir instead of being connected to the foot of the mountain, and that its relationship with the landscape and with other buildings within the property would be compromised;

5.  Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission to assess the potential negative impact of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value, including authenticity and integrity of the property and to review the management system for the property as well as progress with the implementation of a Management Plan;

6.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.