In 2009, the French Ministry of Culture began an $18 million restoration of the medieval Chartres Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site 50 miles southwest of Paris. By 2017, the Gothic structure is intended to look similar to the original 1194–1250 construction. However, as the past 765 years of dirt and grime are erased, critics are denouncing the project. To cleanse the interior of candle and oil grime, the French Ministry of Culture is painting the interior masonry its original color, a creamy-white. However, the freshly painted masonry looks out of place against the undulating stone floor. And now, the floor, worn by centuries of pilgrims, looks filthy against the freshly painted walls. Originally, the vaults were illuminated by candles that hung from the columns and natural light that filtered through the stained glass windows. Now, the space is lit with bright, 21st century lighting. Martin Filler, in his blog on the New York Review of Books website, accused Patrice Calvel, former architect in chief of the French Ministry of Culture, of a destruction similar to “adding arms to the Venus de Milo.” In an article in Le Figaro, Adrien Goetz compared it to “watching a film in a cinema where they haven’t switched off the lights.” Calvel defended his “vacuum cleaning,” saying, “It has the full weight of the administration of state, historians and architects who decided over a 20-year period what would be done.” But when asked whether or not parishioners were consulted, Calvel said, “I’m very democratic, but the public is not competent to judge.” Calvel’s research unveiled that in medieval times, “everything was painted.” However, Calvel will not paint the exterior, saying, “If we tried to do that on the outside I would be hanged.” Stefan Evans, Franco Scardino, Leila Amineddoleh, and Adachiara Zevi started a petition, Save Chartres Cathedral, to stop the renovation. The four sponsors believe Chartres’s restoration violates the 1964 Venice Charter, which prohibits the addition of new construction, demolition, or modification of historic buildings in ways that change the original composition and color. Save Chartres Cathedral has 573 supporters and counting. The petition can be signed here.
Posts tagged with "World Heritage Site":
While Philadelphia is just joining the ranks of World Heritage Cities, Edinburgh, Scotland, could be on its way out. Edinburgh's yellow-brown, sandstone buildings, elegant extensions to the capital’s landscape, are set to receive new neighbors from developers. The approved plans have sent UNESCO to reassess Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site Listing. In 1995, UNESCO granted Edinburgh World Heritage status for its cohesive old and new towns. Now, as developers move in, the status is at risk. The St. James, known by developers as the “Ribbon Hotel” and by citizens as “The Turd,” has been approved for construction within the capital’s historic skyline from Calton Hill and is expected to be completed in 2020. The previous building, a 1960s shopping mall, demolished the site’s original 18th century square. Jestico + Whiles is the firm behind the ribbon design, and TIAA Henderson, their client. Developers, marketing the ribbon structure as an architectural icon, believe the building is necessary in order to attract luxury hotels and brands to the city. This $1.27 billion project is expected to add $38 million to Edinburgh’s economy each year. Although the ribbon is set to house Abercrombie & Fitch, 7 for All Mankind, and Ted Baker and has received interest from chains like W and Four Seasons, Edinburgh’s magazine The List named it one of Scotland’s biggest, recent flops. Bath, a town in England’s southwest countryside, received threats to its status both in 2009 and last week, however remains listed. On the contrary, in 2009, Dresden lost its world heritage status after building a bridge a mile outside the city. Because UNESCO’s decision over Edinburgh cannot be predicted, it is clear the process of identifying world heritage and defending it from intrusion is difficult, especially when it comes to one of the most beautiful urban views, Calton Hill.
A circular bridge will go up this November over Uruguay’s beautiful Laguna Garzon, connecting two formerly remote shores
If conservatives bristle at building a bridge over a UNESCO World Heritage Site, just make it circular. This ring-shaped bridge by architect Rafael Viñoly will superimpose the Laguna Garzon, its circular design meant to minimize its environmental and visual impact by recalling a winding road—plus the fact that it uniquely affords veritable 360-degree views. [Video courtesy Teledoce.] The final cost of the project is $11 million, with the state providing $1.8 million. Argentinian real estate developer Eduardo Costantini, owner of high-end guesthouses Las Garzas in Rocha, will foot the remaining bill. The Uruguayan Ministry of Transport has eyeballed the prospect of a bridge over the lagoon since 1950, but the project did not start until May 2013. Slated to connect the cities of Maldonado and Rocha when it opens in November, the bridge has the potential to mediate the flow of travelers and tourism dollars up and down the eastern seaboard. It will replace the current system of rafts that connect the two cities, which allows only two cars to pass at time, depriving Rocha of the development frenzy seen in Maldonado. Statistics indicate generally favorable views of the project, with 81 percent of Rocha residents and 64 percent of Maldona residents who spoke positively about the bridge. Government estimates indicate that 1,000 vehicles will traverse the bridge daily, with an increase in those numbers during the peak summer months. Scheduled to open in November, the bridge is well under construction. View the video above from Teledoce to see how it works.
A small, twisting airport in Mestia, a medieval town in the Democratic Republic of Georgia manages to capture the essence of the UNESCO World Heritage Site's ancient stone defensive towers while still standing on its own as a skyward-reaching modern structure. Designed by German firm J. Mayer H. Architects, the airport is expected to boost tourism in the historic town and nearby ski resort. Amazingly, the structure was designed and built within three months between October and December 2010.