Pingyao was awarded World Heritage status in 1997 for its exceptional preservation of an intact, classic Han Chinese city from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). Photo: John Roberts
We are pleased to announce that GHF Pingyao has been selected as a recipient of a 2012 Travel + Leisure Global Vision Award in the Preservation category. The annual awards recognize the “outstanding efforts of individuals and organizations that are working to preserve the world’s natural and man-made treasures.”
In its October 2012 issue, Travel + Leisure praises the GHF-led restoration of several of Pingyao’s historic courtyard houses. Today, one of those houses operates as a bed-and-breakfast, while another has become an important community facility with a lecture hall and studio that serves to preserve the intangible heritage of Pingyao through community craft workshops, weekly lectures and broadcasts on the local Pingyao culture and dialect.
In its description of the city, the magazine acknowledges the damaging effects of industrialization in recent decades, as well as the surge in tourism since Pingyao’s inscription to the World Heritage List in 1997. In partnership with Tongji University, GHF has crafted a comprehensive preservation plan for the medieval walled city to combat these issues. GHF is also now supporting the restoration of two houses on Fanjie Jie Historic Street as part of a larger community revitalization strategy to spur the rehabilitation of an entire district.
Surveying is carried out by a local team comprised of planners, historians and traditional architecture craftsmen. Above, the survey team investigates the courtyard architecture. Photo: GHF
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“This a tremendous honour to be shared by everyone involved with the Pingyao project, all of whose hard work is helping us preserve one of China’s most important ancient cities,” said Jeff Morgan, GHF’s Executive Director. “Our special thanks goes to the extremely talented Han Li, our China Heritage Program Manager, who not only understands how to preserve a city’s tangible heritage, but how to incorporate the local community so that its intangible heritage and folkways are sustained for future generations.”
This is GHF’s second Global Vision Award, having being previously honored in 2009 for preservation efforts at Banteay Chhmar, Cambodia. In its announcement of that award, Travel + Leisure focused on the community development aspect of GHF’s work, writing: “The nonprofit’s mission is dual: protect one of Cambodia’s great historic treasures and engage the neighboring community by employing Khmer specialists and developing a model for sustainable tourism in the area.”
It is also GHF’s second major award for cultural heritage conservation in less than a month, after winning a UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for the restoration of Chandramauleshwar Temple at Hampi, India.
The restored courtyard at 12 Mijia Xiang now serves as the GHF field office and a visitor and community center. Photo: GHF
The three other 2012 Global Vision Awards for Preservation were given to the Belcampo Belize, an eco-lodge and organic farm devoted to saving Belize’s indigenous cuisine; the Namgyal Institute for Research on Ladakhi Art & Culture (NIRLAC), which is restoring the Sumda Chun Gonpa temple complex in Ladakh, India; and the Grupo Patrimonio Cultural in Andahuaylillas, Peru, a youth group tasked with saving the historic Church of San Pedro and their town’s entire cultural fabric.
“Heritage is both an economic asset and a source of pride,” said 2012 juror Bonnie Burnham, President and CEO of the World Monuments Fund.
Travel + Leisure, founded in 1938, is one of the world’s most popular travel magazines, with nearly 5 million subscribers.