1.         Historic City of Ayutthaya (Thailand) (C 576)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1991

Criteria  (iii)

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/576/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/576/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

April/May 2014: ICOMOS Advisory mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/576/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

From 28 April to 2 May 2014, at the invitation of the State Party, ICOMOS carried out an Advisory mission to the property and identified the following threats: Deterioration due to time; Direct and indirect impact of heavy flooding in 2011; Insufficient number of craftsmen with high standard of skill and traditional knowledge undertaking conservation activities; Concerns about quality of post-flood restoration work.

On 11 March 2015, the State Party submitted a response to the mission report of the ICOMOS Advisory mission to Ayutthaya, which informed on the following:

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

In response to the concerns about the quality of the post-2011 heavy flood restoration work undertaken in a rushed manner in the 2012 fiscal year, ICOMOS carried out an Advisory mission to the property, which reviewed the state of conservation of the property, and notably assessed the impact of the heavy flood and provided technical advice to the State Party with respect to the conservation works and protection measures.

The overall damage to the architectural ruins by flooding was found to be negligible. However, the flooding has caused considerable damage to the mural paintings and resulted in their detachment. The mission suggested the application of resin on the mural paintings to stop the detachment caused by the precipitation of salt crystals, and the construction of drainage system inside the walls to ensure evaporation towards the outside rather than into the rooms. The authorities require specialist advice and capacity building in order to carry out this work.

A number of flood mitigation measures have been suggested and should be explored by the authorities. These include the construction of protective walls, landscaping to reduce water pressure during a flood, exploring traditional knowledge and techniques, as well as considering the reproduction of the city wall.

A comprehensive plan for conservation and utilization should be developed and a wide range of experts and specialists of different disciplines should be involved in updating the Master Plan. To this end, the authorities should consider organizing an international symposium with academics, the FAD and conservation practitioners to debate the conservation philosophy of brick associated sites and to discuss flood prevention, conservation and management measures at the property to make sure the present intervention correspond to international conservation guidelines. The symposium could provide an opportunity to discuss and agree on principles for the development of an integrated site management plan to address issues relating to the protection of monuments and sites and the historic setting of the property.  

The extensive interventions at the property (over 100 monuments at the site) which have taken place are lacking in craftsmanship and documentation. Furthermore, the information on these projects has not been submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. The mission therefore suggests that the attributes bearing the OUV, the significance of the materials and the craftsmanship and the principles of minimal intervention should be clearly understood so that the work foreseen respects the authenticity and integrity of the property. To this end, training programmes should be put in place as a matter of urgency to improve the skills and expertise of craftsmen undertaking the conservation activities. It is also recommended that conservation approaches are based on scientific conservation principles and respecting use of traditional materials and skills. This will also require a scientific laboratory to assist the restoration and conservation processes. New temples were found to have been built within the historical sites which have an impact on the OUV of the property. Although the FAD does not have any jurisdiction over these developments, appropriate control in line with the national policy concerning the protection of cultural heritage and World Heritage properties must be undertaken.

Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.71

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B;
  2. Recalling Decision 36 COM 8E, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), adopting the retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for the property;
  3. Acknowledges the information provided by the State Party and the steps taken in response to the concerns about the quality of the post-flood restoration work undertaken in 2012 and to the ICOMOS Advisory mission; as well as the project to study and establish flood modelling, in order to propose flood risk mitigation measures for the Historic City of Ayutthaya with the assistance of the World Heritage Centre and UNESCO Bangkok;
  4. Recommends the State Party to carry out, as a matter of urgency, training programmes to improve the skills and expertise of craftsmen undertaking the conservation activities and to ensure conservation approaches are based on scientific conservation principles and respecting use of traditional materials and skills;
  5. Requests the State Party to develop a comprehensive plan for conservation and utilization with the assistance of experts and specialists of different disciplines and to update the site Management Plan accordingly;
  6. Encourages the State Party to organize an international symposium, in collaboration with UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies, to debate on the conservation philosophy of brick associated sites, together with academics and international conservation practitioners;
  7. Also requests the State Party to refrain from new construction within the property and its setting in particular within the area of the footprint of the historic city that may have an impact on its OUV of the property and to ensure appropriate control mechanisms are established, in line with the national policy concerning the protection of cultural heritage and World Heritage properties;
  8. Invites the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with detailed information concerning the restoration projects as part of the post-flood interventions and, in general, any major projects foreseen at the property and its buffer zone, for review by the Advisory Bodies, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.