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International experts meeting on earthen architecture: its preservation and potential for the future

Friday, 14 December 2012
access_time 2 min read
Bam - Iran (Islamic Republic of) © UNESCO | F. Bandarin

Forty of the world’s leading experts on earthen architecture—which serves as habitat for up to one third of the world’ population—will exchange experiences about the preservation of this often remarkable and always sustainable heritage in a meeting at UNESCO Headquarters on 17 and 18 December (RoomXI).

The International Colloquium on the Conservation of World Heritage Earthen Architecture is organized as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Earthen Architecture Programme (WHEAP) in close cooperation with CRAterre-ENSAG, the International Centre for Earthen Architecture (School of Architecture in Grenoble, France). The first day will feature case studies of earthen architecture in World Heritage cities (Goa, India; Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca, Ecuador; Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, Morocco; Djenné, Mali; At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah, Saudi Arabia).  It is worth noting that earthen architecture accounts for 135 sites of the 962 properties currently inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Archaeological sites will also be examined during the morning of 17 December (Ruins of Loropéni, Burkina Faso; Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site, El Salvador; Mesa Verde National Park, USA; Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey).

Cultural landscapes will be the subject of presentations and debates in the afternoon session, focusing on Sukur in Nigeria; the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia; cultural landscape in the context of Brazilian World Heritage properties; the Cliff of Bandiagara in Mali and Fujian Tulou, China.

The particularly topical subject of earthen architecture in armed conflict and post conflict situations will be examined from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Luis Monreal, General Manager of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, who will discuss his organization’s efforts in Afghanistan; and site managers and experts from the Old Town of Ghadamès, Libya; the Ancient City of Damascus, Syria; and Timbuktu, Mali.

The morning of 18 December will be devoted to earthen architecture and natural disasters with presentations from M'Zab Valley, Algeria; the Royal Palaces of Abomey, Benin; Bam and its Cultural Landscape, Iran; Chavín de Huántar, Peru; and the Getty Conservation Institute’s Seismic Retrofitting Project.

One session (18 December 11 a.m.) will be devoted tocontemporary earthen architecture and the legacy of Hassan Fathy, the Egyptian architect who showed the world that this type of sustainable construction was well suited to modern use.  Presentations will be made by the World Monuments Fund and other leading experts from the USA, Switzerland, Egypt, Italy and France. Finally, presentations on education and promotion will be made by experts from WHEAP, the Iberian-American earthen architecture network PROTERRA, the Algerian Centre of Earthen Architectural Cultural Heritage, CRAterre-ENSAG and the Getty Conservation Institute.

An exhibition on earthen architecture will be inaugurated at UNESCO as part of the event (17 December, 6 p.m.).  This international experts meeting was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Government of Italy and a contribution from ENSAG / Labex AE&CC.

Interview with Lazare Eloundou Assomo,
UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Interview with Erica Avrami,
World Monuments Fund

Friday, 14 December 2012
access_time 2 min read
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