Yesterday, in the iconic corporate tower that is the Empire State Building, World Monuments Fund President Bonnie Burnham announced the 2012 World Monuments Watch (WMW) to a packed room of eager journalists. Listing 67 cultural heritage sites in need of care and assistance, the WMW has been pledged $5m over the next five years by financial giant American Express.
Speaking at Wednesday’s event, Burnham explained: “The World Monuments Watch is a call to action on behalf of endangered cultural-heritage sites across the globe, and while these site are historic, they are also very much of the present - integral parts of the lives of the people who come into contact with them every day. Indeed, the Watch reminds us of our collective role as stewards of the Earth and of its human beings.”
From the Peruvian deserts to Madagascan shores and Turkish stations to Chinese archaeological ruins the 67-strong list covers an impressive 41 countries and territories, each individual scheme equally worthy of its place on the WMW. All projects have been hand selected for their dire need of architectural or cultural aid and will all reap the benefits of the World Monuments Fund’s extensive experience in protecting and preserving buildings or structures of architectural importance.
On this year’s WMW are the Nasca lines and geoglyphs in the deserts of south Peru; an exquisite collection of archaeological remains that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and were created between 500BC and 500AD. An increase in tourism and the heavy demands of preserving such treasured relics have necessitated the development of a masterplan to ensure long-term preservation and stewardship, and the WMW looks to unite the site’s stakeholders of this rare historical composition.
Also topping the 2012 list is the Haydarpaşa Railway Station in Istanbul which was recently damaged by a fire. More than 100 years old, the station has become a cherished fixture on the city’s skyline and with strong community support behind it is preparing for a much-needed redevelopment project. Plans suggest that the structure will no longer be used as a transport hub, yet the public’s sentiments towards the elaborate design mean that an adaptive reuse programme is likely to be seen through to completion.