The iconic 155-year-old Flora Fountain of Mumbai and two other heritage landmarks in India’s financial capital are among the four sites that have been selected for the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
Flora Fountain is a veritable symbol of Mumbai, which was opened to the public after rigorous restoration in 2019.
On Monday, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation were announced at an event held in Malaysia’s Penang, marking 20-years since its institution.
The four winners from India, include one from Ahmedabad – Indian Institute of Management (IIM) – Award of Distinction for Vikram Sarabhai Library, and three from Mumbai – Award of Merit for Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue and Our Lady of Glory Church, and Flora Fountain.
After announcing the winners, Bangkok-based UNESCO Asia-Pacific tweets, “The careful restoration of the fountain completes the series of conservation interventions to revive the city’s many Victorian-era fountains, a collection of ornate civic monuments unique in India.”
It is said for Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue that the restoration was “undertaken with generous private sponsorship” that “celebrates the cultural plurality of Mumbai.”
While announcing the Award of Distinction for Vikram Sarabhai Library at IIM-A, the building of which was designed by popular architect Louis Kahn, said the UNESCO that “the restoration of the monumental heralds an important step forward in the preservation of 20th-century architecture in India (sic).”
The restoration of the historic Tai Kwun – Centre for Heritage and Arts in Hong Kong has received the Award of Excellence, which is the highest among all categories.
The UNESCO Asia-Pacific said that “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.”
Mumbai-based architect Vikas Dilawari was the main consultant for the Flora Fountain Restoration Project, was overjoyed and called it a “great moment for India” as it bagged four of the 16 awards.
Mr. Dilawari said, “We hope this achievement and recognition by UNESCO will mean that both governments and people will give heritage conservation a chance. In a rapidly urbanizing India, we keep sacrificing our heritage in the name of development.”
He told sources over telephonic conversation after attending the award ceremony, “But, these awards will fill every Indian with a great sense of pride and we hope they will make them more sensitive towards heritage and its protection.”
This year marks 20-years of the UNESCO Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation that was designed in Penang, during the landmark of UNESCO “Economics of Heritage” regional conference in 1999.
During the celebration of the 20th anniversary, the UNESCO has co-organized the Asia-Pacific Heritage 20/20 Forum and 2019 Awards Ceremony with Think City in Penang.
While praising Tai Kwun, the jury was quoted saying, ‘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.”
“The project tackled a complex site with multiple layers of history dating back to the mid-19th century, enhancing its legibility and opening it up to the public. The technical quality of the restoration work is standard-setting on an international level, ensuring the authenticity and integrity of the historic fabric,” said the UNESCO in a statement.