PENANG, MALAYSIA, 14 October 2019 – The renewal of the historic Tai Kwun – Centre for Heritage and Arts in Hong Kong SAR, China has received the Award of Excellence in this year’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
The 2019 winners were announced during the Asia-Pacific Heritage 20/20 Forum in Penang on 14 October 2019. Co-organized by Think City, the event marks the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO Heritage Awards, which were conceived in Penang in 1999.
The event was opened by Chow Kon Yeow, Chief Minister of Penang, who noted that recognition of George Town’s heritage through the UNESCO Heritage Awards helped to create the momentum for the World Heritage listing of the site.
In terms of setting a future agenda for heritage in the Asia-Pacific region, Shigeru Aoyagi, Director of UNESCO Bangkok, emphasized the importance of linking heritage with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as demonstrated by the UNESCO Heritage Awards.
Executive Director of UN Habitat, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, stated, “Culture is the fourth pillar of sustainable development, and can serve to solve urban challenges and bring uniqueness and economic prosperity to any city”. Hamdan Abdul Majeed, Managing Director of Think City, remarked, “Only in partnership with community, business and government can a city continue to find sustainable ways to be liveable and resilient.”
The Jury praised the Award of Excellence winner, Tai Kwun – Centre for Heritage and Arts, stating:
“The transformation of the former Central Police Station into a world-class centre for heritage and arts has created a vibrant new civic space in the heart of the city’s central business district. Against tremendous commercial real estate pressures, the successful realization of Tai Kwun stands as a testimony to Hong Kong SAR’s commitment to heritage.”
Sixteen projects from five countries – Australia, Bhutan, China, India and New Zealand – have been recognized by the international Jury of conservation experts in this year’s Awards. The Jury met in August to review 57 entries from 14 countries across the Asia-Pacific region.
Other Awardees Include:
Award of Distinction
• Keyuan Garden, Suzhou, China
• Vikram Sarabhai Library, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India
• Nelson School of Music, Nelson, New Zealand
Award of Merit
• Tseto Goenpa, Paro, Bhutan
• Guyue Bridge, Chi’an Town, Zhejiang, China
• Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, Mumbai, India
• Our Lady of Glory Church, Mumbai, India
• Lyttelton Timeball Station, Christchurch, New Zealand
• The 5s Classroom, Preshil The Margaret Lyttle Memorial School, Kew, Australia
• Westpac Long Gallery, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia
• Liddell Bros. Packing Plant, Wuhan, China
• Flora Fountain, Mumbai, India
New Design in Heritage Contexts
• Joan Sutherland Theatre Passageway and Lift, Sydney Opera House, Sydney,
• Dry Pit Latrine in Jiaxian Ancient Jujube Garden, Nihegou Village, Shaanxi, China
• The Mills, Hong Kong SAR, China
“Ever since the Awards programme was established in 2000, we have witnessed an important evolution in cultural heritage conservation over the past 20 years, from an emphasis on technical issues to contributing to the sustainability of communities,” said Dr Duong Bich Hanh,
Chair of the Jury and Chief of UNESCO Bangkok’s Culture Unit. The 20/20 Forum saw 150 past Awards winners, jury members, contributors and emerging heritage practitioners gather to recognize the 2019 winners and to join the launch of the Asia Conserved III publication, chronicling Awards winners from 2009 to 2014.
The Forum dovetailed with the 7th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum convened by UN-Habitat and UNESCAP and hosted by the Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP), the Penang city council.
The co-organizer, Think City, is a social purpose, community-focused urban regeneration organization, which works in various cities in Malaysia catalyzing change in the way cities are planned, developed and celebrated.