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US Civil Rights Sites and Aleppo’s Old Souk Among 25 Threatened Places Around the World

The World Monuments Fund announced the 2018 World Monuments Watch, listing 25 sites, from the hurricane-hit Caribbean to modernist architecture in India.

India, Post-Independence Architecture of Delhi: The Hall of Nations, a complex of exhibition halls built for the 1972 International Trade Fair, was demolished in April 2017. (photo by Ariel Huber, Lausanne/World Monuments Fund)
India, Post-Independence Architecture of Delhi: The Hall of Nations, a complex of exhibition halls built for the 1972 International Trade Fair, was demolished in April 2017. (photo by Ariel Huber, Lausanne/World Monuments Fund)

Today the World Monuments Fund (WMF) announced the 2018 World Monuments Watch, listing 25 at-risk sites. Threatened by climate change, conflict, natural disasters, and preservation resource limitations, they range from modernist architecture to whole regions wrecked by hurricanes and earthquakes.

The Watch was launched in 1996 and is released every two years, its list organized by a panel of heritage experts from around the world, including specialists in architecture, archaeology, art history, and preservation. “By building an international coalition, the World Monuments Watch protects both the sites themselves and the shared history they embody,” Joshua David, president and CEO of WMF, stated in a release. He added that these sites “are where we come together as citizens of the world and renew our commitments to justice, culture, peace, and understanding.”

This 2018 edition has a particular focus on modernist structures, which can pose preservation challenges due to their porous concrete forms and often purpose-built architecture, whose heroic shapes can be difficult to adapt to new purposes. Furthermore, they are frequently too new to qualify for local historic listing and protection. For instance, the Hall of Nations in Delhi, India, pictured at the top of this post, was erected for the 1972 International Trade Fair and was torn down this April.

There remains more post-independence architecture in Delhi that’s in danger of being lost. These structures are joined by the Sirius Building in Sydney, Australia, a Brutalist high-rise of public housing from the 1970s whose future is in limbo, and the 1960s concrete Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium in Takamatsu, Japan, where a new sports facility’s construction puts rehabilitation into question. Meanwhile, sites related to the Civil Rights Movement in the Southern United States are also listed, as they can lack protection resources; WMF highlights homes, churches, and community spaces in Alabama that were central to organization and action.

Other themes for the 2018 Watch include “disaster response,” concentrating on sites in the Caribbean and Mexico recently hit by storms and earthquakes, as well as Amatrice, Italy, which was almost completely destroyed by a 2016 earthquake. Meanwhile, the Blackpool Piers in the United Kingdom are being damaged by rising sea levels attributed to climate change, and the al-Hadba’ Minaret in Mosul, Iraq; the Souk in Aleppo, Syria; the Old City of Ta’izz in Yemen; and the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Nigeria, are all in tumultuous conflict zones.

Below are a few of the 25 sites on the 2018 World Monuments Watch. The full list is available on the WMF site.

Egypt, Takiyyat Ibrahim: The complex of al-Gulshani, seen from the northeast, showing how modern structures obscure the entrance façade (photo by Matjaz Kacicnik/World Monuments Fund)
Egypt, Takiyyat Ibrahim: The complex of al-Gulshani, seen from the northeast, showing how modern structures obscure the entrance façade (photo by Matjaz Kacicnik/World Monuments Fund)
Zimbabwe, Matobo Hills Cultural Landscape: Rock art at Nswatugi Cave, one of the sites where were extensive research of the paintings has been carried out (photo by Stephen Battle/World Monuments Fund)
Zimbabwe, Matobo Hills Cultural Landscape: Rock art at Nswatugi Cave, one of the sites where were extensive research of the paintings has been carried out (photo by Stephen Battle/World Monuments Fund)
United States, Alabama, Civil Rights Sites: The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, headquarters for the Montgomery Bus Boycott (photo by Library of Congress / World Monuments Fund)
United States, Alabama, Civil Rights Sites: The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, headquarters for the Montgomery Bus Boycott (photo by Library of Congress / World Monuments Fund)
United States, Buffalo, Central Terminal: The Buffalo Central Terminal complex includes an iconic Art Deco office tower (photo by Joe Casico/World Monuments Fund)
United States, Buffalo, Central Terminal: The Buffalo Central Terminal complex includes an iconic Art Deco office tower (photo by Joe Casico/World Monuments Fund)
Syria, Souk of Aleppo: In September 2012, the Souk of Aleppo was consumed by a fire that burned for days (photo by the Asahi Shimbun / Getty Images / World Monuments Fund)
Syria, Souk of Aleppo: In September 2012, the Souk of Aleppo was consumed by a fire that burned for days (photo by the Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images/World Monuments Fund)
Japan, Kagawa: Prefectural Gymnasium, it was designed to evoke the form of a traditional Japanese wooden barge (photo by Noriyuki Kawanishi/World Monuments Fund)
Japan, Kagawa: Prefectural Gymnasium, it was designed to evoke the form of a traditional Japanese wooden barge (photo by Noriyuki Kawanishi/World Monuments Fund)
Italy, Amatrice" The bell tower of the medieval church of Sant’Emidio survived the earthquake of August 24, 2016 and subsequent tremors (photo by MIBACT/World Monuments Fund)
Italy, Amatrice” The bell tower of the medieval church of Sant’Emidio survived the earthquake of August 24, 2016 and subsequent tremors (photo by MIBACT/World Monuments Fund)

View the full 2018 World Monuments Watch on the World Monuments Fund site.

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