Thursday, June 28, 2007

What Do A Modernist Opera House And A Transnational Serial Strand Of Primeval Beach Forests Have In Common?

"The World Heritage Committee on Thursday afternoon inscribed four cultural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List: Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape (Japan), Parthian Fortresses of Nisa (Turkmenistan), Sydney Opera House (Australia), and the Red Fort Complex (India). ...

Inaugurated in 1973, the Sydney Opera House, is listed as a great architectural work of the 20th century that brings together multiple strands of creativity and innovation, both in architectural form and structural design. A great urban sculpture set in a remarkable waterscape, at the tip a peninsula projecting into Sydney Harbour, the building has had an enduring influence on architecture. The Opera House comprises three groups of interlocking vaulted ‘shells’ which roof two main performances halls and a restaurant. These shell-structures are set upon a vast platform and are surrounded by terrace areas that function as pedestrian concourses. In 1957, when the project of the Sydney opera was attributed by an international jury to the then almost unknown Danish architect Jørn Utzon, it marked a radically new and collaborative approach to construction. In listing the building, the Sydney Opera House is recognized as a great artistic monument accessible to society at large.

The Red Fort Complex was built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad - the new capital of the 5th Mughal Emperor of India, Shahjahan (1628-58). It gets its name from its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone. It is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Sur in 1546, with which it forms the Red Fort Complex. The private apartments consist of a row of pavilions connected by a continuous water channel, known as the Nahr-i-Behisht, or the Stream of Paradise. The palace was designed as an imitation of paradise as described in the Koran; a couplet inscribed in the palace reads, ‘If there be a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here’. The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which, under the Emperor Shahjahan, was brought to a new level of refinement. The planning of the palace is based on Islamic prototypes, but each pavilion reveals architectural elements typical of Mughal building, reflecting a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions The Red For's innovative planning and architectural style, including its garden design, strongly influenced later buildings and gardens in Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and further afield. The monument's significance is further enhanced by the importance of events that happened. Through its fabric, the complex reflects all phases of Indian history from the Mughal period to independence.


The World Heritage Committee today inscribed two natural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List: Teide National Park (Spain); Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathian (Slovakia, Ukraine). The Committee also inscribed the Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda (Gabon) as a mixed – cultural and natural – site. Four cultural sites were inscribed: the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Lanscape (South Africa) as a cultural landscape, and Twyfelfontein or /Ui-//aes (Namibia), the Kaiping Diaolou and Villages (China) and Samarra Archaeological City (Iraq), which was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. It furthermore decided to approve the extension of the natural site of Jungfrau - Aletsch - Bietschhorn, (Switzerland).

Situated on the island of Tenerife, Teide National Park covers 18,990 ha and features the Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano that, at 3,718 m, is the highest peak in Spain. Standing 7,500m above the ocean floor, it is regarded as the world’s third tallest volcanic structure and is situated in a spectacular environment. The visual impact of the site is all the greater due to atmospheric conditions that create constantly changing textures and tones in the landscape and a ‘sea of clouds’ that forms a visually impressive backdrop to the mountain. Teide is of global importance in providing evidence of the geological processes that underpin the evolution of oceanic islands, complementing those of volcanic properties already on the World Heritage List, such as the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (U.S.A.).

The Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathian constitute a transnational serial property of ten separate components along a 185 km axis from the Rakhiv Mountains and the Chornohirskyi Range in the Ukraine, west along the Polonynian Ridge, to the Bukovské Vrchy and Vihorlat Mountains in Slovakia. The ten sites represent an outstanding example of undisturbed, complex temperate forests and exhibit the most complete and comprehensive ecological patterns and processes of pure stands of European beech across a variety of environmental conditions. They contain an invaluable genetic reservoir of beech and many species associated with, and dependent on, these forest habitats. They also represent an outstanding example of the re-colonization and development of terrestrial ecosystems and communities after the last ice age, a process which is still ongoing." ...

The World Heritage Committee is expected to inscribe more sites later today [Thursday, June 28, 2007].

The Lviv, Ukraine Opera House [above] and the Sydney, Australia Opera House [below]. Both now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

[Click on images for enlargement.]

Photo credit: and (c) Steven Siewert and the Sydney Morning Herald. All rights reserved. With thanks.


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