THE 7 MOST ENDANGERED 2016
(listed alphabetically by country)
Sitting on an isolated rocky plateau close to the Turkish‐Armenian border, Ererouyk was once one of the largest and most important centres of worship in the region. The triple aisled basilica, built in the 6th century, is among the oldest christian monuments in Armenia and is the most impressive construction of the complex, which featured several religious buildings and village houses. During the Middle Ages, Ererouyk was strongly linked with the Armenian capital city of Ani, located only a few kilometres away.
The basilica roof collapsed before the 18th century and the building has been heavily damaged by various earthquakes, including one in 1988. Despite some restoration works undertaken in the last two decades, the basilica, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list, remains highly endangered.
The archaeological area that surrounds the basilica, comprising the remains of funerary monuments, a wide boundary wall, a dam, a mausoleum, a few rupestrian rooms and several early Christian sculptured fragments, is at risk of being lost before it has been comprehensively studied and documented.
Located on the coast of Tallinn, Patarei Sea Fortress is the largest and most impressive classical style defence ensemble in Estonia. Its construction was started in 1829 by order of the Russian Czar Nicholas I and it was completed in 1840. Spreading over four hectares, it consists of a curved wing facing the sea (247 metres in length), two radial wings (each 124 metres in length) and a mortar battery. The complex has performed many functions, reflecting the dramatic and manifold history of Estonia. Between 1920 and 2005, the fortress was converted into a prison, having become a powerful symbol of national resistance to both the communist and Nazi regimes.
The buildings have stood empty for more than a decade, suffering numerous acts of vandalism. The main threat to the ensemble is its rapid deterioration due to the harsh climate and the lack of maintenance. The roof and windows are severely damaged letting both rain and snow in, while the water has caused the timber constructions and limestone walls to suffer greatly. The walls are moist throughout and extremely wet in the basement and on the ground floor. Several areas are closed for safety reasons. If no emergency actions are taken to stop the rapid decay, the buildings will be irreparably lost.
Helsinki‐Malmi is an international airport built in the mid‐1930s in the functionalist architectural style as part of a larger ensemble in Helsinki which was intended to serve the 1940 Helsinki Olympic Games, cancelled due to World War II. It is one of the best‐preserved still active pre‐World War II international airports in the world and a living cultural heritage site of early commercial aviation. With about 40.000 landings per year, Malmi is by far the busiest airport in Finland after Helsinki‐Vantaa International.
Complete with the original hangar, terminal and runways, Malmi’s area, as a whole, has been declared a cultural environment of national significance by the National Board of Antiquities. The airport buildings are in good shape thanks to good maintenance over the years. All four original 1930’s runways are still there and so is their massive underground drainage system.
The airport is now under serious threat from a new development project. The City of Helsinki, which retains the ownership of the airport, proposes that the site be used for new residential development to be constructed in the early 2020s. In the meantime, the state is to withdraw its operations from Malmi Airport by the end of 2016 while the state‐owned airport operator Finavia Ltd is set to end its air traffic control and other services in September 2016, rendering the airport unusable for any professional aviation activities. Although some or all of the airport buildings themselves may be retained, the removal of the runways deprives them of any real purpose.
Contemporaneous with the Eiffel Tower and using the same building techniques and materials (puddled iron), the Colbert Bridge is the last large swing bridge still operating in Europe with its original system of hydraulic pression. Designed by the engineer Paul Alexandre and opened in 1889, the bridge is the longest of its kind with a 70,5-metre-long roadway. The operating cabin, outlined by the architect Jean Prouvé, is an elegant complement to the very characteristic silhouette of the bridge and is also of historic and aesthetic interest. The Colbert Bridge is the only link between Deppe’s historic centre and the harbour neighbourhood of Le Pollet, being crossed by 12,000 vehicles and 1,800 pedestrians every day.
Despite its industrial heritage importance, the Syndicat Mixte du Port de Dieppe (SMPD), which owns and has administrative responsibility for the bridge, has carried out only minor maintenance and the bridge hasn’t had its metal structure painted for 18 years. This has resulted in some deterioration, but the damage is reversible as demonstrated by a study published in 2012 by the French Railways (SNCF) Engineering Structures Department. The original hydraulic mechanism is functioning and performs on average four rotations per day. However, it is not under preventative maintenance and needs to be restored.
Kampos is located on the island of Chios in the east Aegean. It is a semi‐rural area within the city limits that exemplifies the coexistence of Byzantine, Genoese and local architectural styles and influences, dating back to the 14th century. Situated on a fertile plain along the east coast of the island, it consisted, principally, of more than 200 estates containing orchards (typical agro‐eco‐systems), mansions and churches. The existing urban tissue includes historic buildings from the 14-18th centuries as well as neoclassical buildings from the beginning of the 20th century. The Kampos of Chios site is an excellent historic example of the coexistence of habitation and production that is still meaningful and alive today. Built out of the local stone, it constitutes an ensemble of exceptional beauty.
The site is under permanent threat due to the inability of the owners to maintain the properties and to unsuitable uses and provisions that were introduced by the 2008 Urban Plan for Chios. To avoid further deterioration of the site and alteration of its unique character, and in the context of the European Cohesion Policy and European Strategy 2000, a number of actions are proposed regarding issues of building conservation and restoration, infrastructure, the orchards’ cultivation and traffic regulation, among others.
Built in the late 15th century and greatly renovated and expanded in the mid-17th century, the Franciscan Convent of St. Anthony of Padua was for centuries a religious and cultural landmark in western Spain. It is situated in the village of Garrovillas de Alconétar, in Cáceres province, in the autonomous community of Extremadura. The village is scarcely known today, in spite of its long history and heritage wealth, which incorporates Prehistoric dolmens, Bronze Age archaeological sites, Roman remains and 15-17th century religious and civic buildings. Although it was classified as a Monument of Cultural Interest in 1991, the Convent is now in an advanced state of disrepair.
The highlight of the religious complex is the Gothic church, with ribbed vaults, a single nave and a polygonal apse, featuring two Renaissance chapels and two Plateresque style chapels on the sides. The two-floor cloister is built in sober Renaissance style.
Sitting on the banks of the Tigris River in south-eastern Turkey, not far from the border with Syria, the 12,000-year-old settlement of Hasankeyf has been home to almost every major Mesopotamian civilization. From Neolithic caves to Roman ruins and Medieval monuments, Hasankeyf is a living museum of epic proportions. Most of the archaeological remains visible today date from the 12-15th centuries. The pylons of the Artukid Bridge and the minarets of the two Ayyubid mosques still dominate the skyline of Hasankeyf, while the Zeynel Bey Tomb is the only remaining example of Timurid architecture in the country. The ancient city of Hasankeyf and its surroundings was classified as a First Degree Archaeological Site by the Turkish government’s Supreme Board of Monuments in 1978.
Despite its exceptionally rich multicultural history and heritage, 80% of Hasankeyf will be flooded if the Ilısu hydroelectric dam project is implemented as planned. It is estimated that the Ilısu dam will produce nearly 2% percent of Turkey’s electricity supply and generate direct annual revenues of 450 million euros. The State Hydraulic Works (DSI) plans to relocate some of the major “cultural assets” to an archaeological park. However, there is no internationally recognised scheme for the relocation, protection and conservation of the monuments. The building of the dam could be completed within months. Non-official projections indicate that construction works might continue throughout 2017 and that the huge reservoir will not start to be filled before 2018.
Covering 550km², the Venice Lagoon is the best-known lagoon in Europe and one of the most important transitional ecosystems in the Mediterranean. It is protected by a range of EU and national regulations and has been inscribed, together with the city of Venice, on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1987. According to UNESCO, “Venice and its Lagoon form an inseparable whole” and “are the result of a dynamic process which illustrates the interaction between people and the ecosystem of their natural environment since the 5th century”. Despite all that, the Lagoon faces great threats – increased traffic flow, particularly of large-scale container and cruise ships, the dredging of ever deeper channels, erosion of the seabed and salt marshes, pollution, and industrial fishing – which are jeopardizing its integrity and very existence, thus putting the historic city of Venice at higher risk.
If the economically-driven projects conceived by the local, regional and national authorities were to be carried out, the state of the Lagoon would dramatically deteriorate. The Venice Port Authority intends to transform the central Lagoon into a commercial/distribution port. A roll-on/roll-off terminal was built last year and there are plans for an offshore terminal where containers would be transferred from huge cargo ships to smaller ones. Consequently, ship traffic could double along the Lagoon’s ‘Petroleum Channel’. Other plans include the creation of a port at Dogaletto (town of Mira) and a canal from Padua (called Idrovia), which would further increase the traffic in the Lagoon and destroy currently intact salt marshes.