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Historic Centre of Puebla

Mexico
Factors affecting the property in 1994*
  • Commercial development
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Housing
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Urban development project including the demolition of a great number of colonial constructions

International Assistance: requests for the property until 1994
Requests approved: 1 (from 1994-1994)
Total amount approved : 18,000 USD
Missions to the property until 1994**

June 1994: UNESCO expert mission

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1994
Report prepared by ICOMOS

Puebla, Mexico (C 4l 6)

Puebla is a new colonial town established in 1531 on a regular street pattern, the rigidity of which was expanded in the 18th and 19th centuries with, on the one hand, an extension of commercial and industrial activities and, on the other, a growth in the population. It preserves a very wide range of monuments from the 16th to 19th centuries. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in December 1987 on the basis of criteria ii and iv.

In December 1993 the Secretariat informed the World Heritage Committee at its 17th Meeting in Cartagena (Colombia) that it had received several letters drawing its attention to an urban development plan prepared by the Municipality of Puebla which might adversely affect the protected zone (the Los Remedios, La Luz, La Cruz, and San Francisco quarters).

The Committee for the Defence of the Historic Centre of Puebla, which had been created by tenants and property owners threatened with expropriation, appealed to ICOMOS, which referred the subject to its Mexican National Committee for study and comment. A mission visited Puebla in May 1994. The Director General of UNESCO in the meantime sent an expert, Giorgio Lombardi, on a mission to evaluate the true impact of the project.

Despite the approaches made to various bodies, the somewhat fragmentary information obtained by ICOMOS has made it impossible to evaluate this urban renewal plan.

It would be desirable to know to what extent this project, even though it is not yet complete, affects the World Heritage Monument. Is it capable of being properly integrated with the ancient urban fabric? Should it become a new landmark for the whole townscape and redefine it in formal, rhetorical, and visual terms? Does the insertion of tourist and commercial architectural programmes, whose centres of gravity are open spaces, not clash with the historic urban fabric, where the accent is placed on the network of streets? Finally, will the likely high elevations of the new constructions not visually overwhelm the colonial architecture and destroy the outstanding views?

Recommendation

It is recommended that the Lombardi Report, the entire Angelopolis Project, and the implementation programme for this project should be made available to ICOMOS so that it may carry out a viable evaluation.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1994

A rehabilitation plan for a part of the World Heritage site of Puebla was briefly discussed at the seventeenth session of the Committee. More detailed information was provided at the eighteenth session of the Bureau on the basis of a report from the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the report of a UNESCO expert who visited Puebla in June of this year. The situation can be summarized as follows:

A regional development programme called ANGELOPOLIS is in preparation for an area of the State of Puebla including 14 municipalities and 35% of the population of the State of Puebla. In the context of this regional development plan an urban rehabilitation project is planned for the Rio San Francisco area in Puebla which would include the development of a pedestrian area and the construction of hotels, a convention centre and commercial areas. The project would concern 27 of the 391 building blocks within the World Heritage site and the INAH announced that it would establish a special commission to evaluate the projects for the area.

Upon the request of the Governor of Puebla, a UNESCO expert undertook a mission in June.

The mission report provides an analysis of the urban structure of Puebla and concludes that the San Francisco area is an extremely important element in it: it is a kind of corridor, an open space, from the north to the south only three building blocks from the central square of the town. This area, originally the San Francisco River, which was covered in the sixties to create a boulevard and which is now one of the busiest through roads, divided and divides the city in two parts: the western part, originally occupied by the Spaniards, and the eastern part where the Indian population lived. Since the early nineteenth century, industry developed along the San Francisco river. Most of the industrial buildings are now empty.

The expert considers that the 'San Francisco corridor' can be typologically divided into three sectors: the central zone, where the Convent of San Francisco is located and where most of the empty building lots are to be found, and the northern and the southern zones, which are more residential in character and still reflect the original morphology.

The expert concludes that the general urban policy as proposed by the authorities is acceptable in that it intends to valorize the important north-south axis and to re-establish the connection between the western and the eastern part of town, but that the project should better respond to the morphology and characteristics of the area.

The authorities responded very favourably to the recommendations of the expert mission and requested further advice. Another three missions will be undertaken, therefore, to be financed under a World Heritage assistance, approved by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee on 14 September 1994.

All documentation on Puebla was also transmitted to ICOMOS for advice. ICOMOS will report to the Committee in a separate document.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 1994

The Committee may wish to commend the authorities of Mexico, the State of Puebla and the Municipality on their positive response to the UNESCO advice, and to invite them to report on a regular basis to the Secretariat on the further development of the projects for the San Francisco area.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1994
18 COM IX
SOC: Puebla (Mexico)

Puebla (Mexico)

The Committee recalled that a rehabilitation plan for a part of the World Heritage site of Puebla, the Rio de San Francisco area, was briefly discussed at its seventeenth session and that more detailed information was provided at the eighteenth session of the Bureau on the basis of a report from the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the report of a UNESCO expert in urban rehabilitation and conservation who visited Puebla in June 1994.

The Committee was informed that following the eighteenth session of the Bureau and on the request of the Government of Mexico, the same expert had undertaken a series of missions to Puebla to advise the authorities in the preparation of the urban development plan for the Rio de San Francisco area. The Committee commended the authorities of Mexico, the state of Puebla and the Municipality of Puebla on their positive response to the expert's advice, and invited them to report on a regular basis to the Secretariat on the further development of this project.

18 BUR IX.3
Requests for International Assistance - Requests deferred by the Bureau

Establishment of an itinerant conservation laboratory which would service the 7 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List (Bulgaria) - US$39,000: The Bureau recommended that this request be re-examined by the Secretariat and ICCROM before being submitted to its next session in December 1994.

Historic Centre of Puebla (Mexico) - US$18,000: to elaborate a rehabilitation plan to secure the safeguarding of the remaining historical buildings in the area, the introduction of new functions and structures compatible with the urban architecture and a maintenance programme to keep the locality in good condition.

The Bureau recommended that this request be re-examined by the Secretariat and ICOMOS before it is re-submitted to the Chairpersonn of the World Heritage Committee.

Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen) - Taking into account the persent situation in the country and the particular menace of rapid degradation which threaten the Historic Town of Zabid, the Bureau requested the Centre to request the Yemeni authorities to reformulate their request in the form of emergency assistance. The request shall be submitted as soon as possible to the World Heritage Centre for approval by the Chairperson.

18 BUR VI.B
Puebla (Mexico)

The Bureau recalled that the case of Puebla was briefly discussed at the seventeenth session of the Committee. The Secretariat informed the Bureau that since then, it continued to receive letters and reports from individuals, associations and organizations on the rehabilitation plan for Puebla, particularly the so-called Rio San Francisco area.

A report was received on 28 March 1994 from the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) that a regional development programme called ANGELOPOLIS is in preparation for an area of the State of Puebla including 14 municipalities and 35% of the population of the State of Puebla. It also reported that in the context of this regional development plan an urban rehabilitation project is planned for the Rio San Francisco area in Puebla which would include the development of a pedestrian area and the construction of hotels, a convention centre and commercial areas. The report re-affirmed the statement made by the Delegate of Mexico at the seventeenth session of the Committee, namely that to date no concrete proposals exist for the area concerned. It confirmed, however, that the proposal in Puebla would concern 27 of the 391 building blocks within the World Heritage site. The report stressed that the National Institute would create a special commission to evaluate future projects for this area.

The Bureau was also informed that the Director-General of UNESCO decided, at the request of the Governor of Puebla, to send an expert to Puebla to advise the municipal and'state authorities on the rehabilitation plans. This mission was undertaken in early June by an architect/urbanist from the University of Venice.

The draft mission report, which was received only a few days before the Bureau session and which includes an analysis of the urban structure and morphology of the historic centre of Puebla, concludes that the projected intervention would be valid in the sense that it would upgrade an area now partially abandoned and would re-establish the visual and functional links between the eastern and the western parts of the centre, but that the structure and morphology of the area should be maintained and reinforced, and should form the basis for future plans.

The Secretariat informed the Bureau that as a follow-up to the mission a request for technical assistance had been presented by the Government of Mexico to obtain the services of the expert who undertook the mission, for advice and guidance in the further development of the plans.

The Representative of ICOMOS informed the Bureau that it also had tried to examine the situation in Puebla through its national committee, but that it had not succeeded. He offered, however, ICOMOS' services and expertise in the evaluation of the expert mission report and the information received from the Mexican authorities.

The Bureau decided that at this point it could not form a clear opinion on the plans for Puebla and requested the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS to evaluate the reports and to report in more detail to the eighteenth session of the Committee.

The Committee recalled that a rehabilitation plan for a part of the World Heritage site of Puebla, the Rio de San Francisco area, was briefly discussed at its seventeenth session and that more detailed information was provided at the eighteenth session of the Bureau on the basis of a report from the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the report of a UNESCO expert in urban rehabilitation and conservation who visited Puebla in June 1994.

The Committee was informed that following the eighteenth session of the Bureau and on the request of the Government of Mexico, the same expert had undertaken a series of missions to Puebla to advise the authorities in the preparation of the urban development plan for the Rio de San Francisco area. The Committee commended the authorities of Mexico, the State of Puebla and the Municipality-of Puebla on their positive response to the expert's advice, and invited them to report on a regular basis to the Secretariat on the further development of this project.

Following the examination of the state of conservation reports, the Committee adopted the following proposals for the monitoring and reporting on the state of conservation of individual World Heritage properties in 1995 and invited the Secretariat to ensure their implementation:

  • The highest priority will be given to the monitoring of and reporting on sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
  • The Secretariat will again report to the Bureau at its nineteenth session in 1995 on the state of conservation of all sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger with an assessment of the appropriateness of their continued inclusion in this List.
  • The Secretariat, in collaboration with the advisory bodies, will continue to undertake reactive monitoring whenever deemed necessary.
Report year: 1994
Mexico
Date of Inscription: 1987
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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