As Lebanon is fighting to survive after the August 4 dramatic explosions, UNESCO mobilized an emergency session. Leading local and international cultural organizations discussed urgent measures to save the city’s cultural life and heritage. Among the most impacted monuments the Sursock Museum, once the property of the Lebanese collector Nicolas Sursock.
The mansion was left to the city at his death in 1952 and Geneva has been a home to some of his descendants. The Sursock Palace, in front of the Museum, which has also been badly damaged by the blast is another symbol of their history.
Why it matters. The Lebanese events highlight an alarming problem, for which technology has solutions. World Heritage sites are in danger. To keep them alive, draw attention to the risk of degradation they are facing and spread awareness on the importance of cultural heritage, Budget Direct and NeoMam Studios created a series of animated Gifs restoring 6 UNESCO cultural sites. A virtual transformation from what it looks now to what it looked when first built.
A researching journey. The project was led by architects Jelena Popovic, Keremcan Kirilmaz and industrial designer Erdem Batirbek. The chosen sites had to be man-made and feature some original elements. After having closely explored the 53 properties included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage in danger, 6 sites were selected:
- Hatra (Iraq)
- Leptis Magna (Libya)
- Palmyra (Syria)
- Portobelo-San Lorenzo Fortifications (Panama)
- Nan Madol (Federated States of Micronesia)
- Old city of Jerusalem and its Walls (Israel)
The bottom line. Armed conflict and war, earthquakes and other natural disasters, pollution, poaching, uncontrolled urbanization and unchecked tourist development are the main threats to World Heritage sites, according to UNESCO. By virtually rebuilding monuments to their former glory, a chance is given to relive part of history. Moreover, it is part of who we are. The question is: is it enough?