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Yannan Garden of Peking University wins 2023 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation
Dec 22, 2023
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Peking University, December 22, 2023: The recipients of the 2023 Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation were announced by UNESCO on Dec. 21, 2023, among which the Yannan Garden (Yan Nan Yuan) of Peking University (PKU) was given the accolade of the Award of Merit, according to a news release

The Yannan Garden restoration project is lauded by UNESCO for its “restrained, academically-informed”, and multidisciplinary approach. “The restoration of Yan Nan Yuan … has deftly encapsulated the spirit of the [U]niversity’s humble origins from which it has grown into one of China’s premier educational institutions,” the winner citation published by UNESCO reads. 

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“Through a restrained and academically-informed approach, the spatial, architectural and ecological integrity of the buildings and landscape was sensitively articulated without excessive interventions,” UNESCO highlights in the citation.

“The effort to rededicate the site as a space for University students and faculty to remember and honor the heritage of their teachers and academic pioneers … inspires members of the University community to value collective memory and to be committed to conserving Yan Nan Yuan and other campus buildings which represent the institution’s illustrious history of scholarship, as well as the enduring legacy of its founding,” the citation added.

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The Yannan Garden is named after its location (in Chinese “nan” means “south” and this garden is located in the south of PKU). The history of this area dates back to the 1920s. During the 20th century, this region housed the foreign faculty of Yenching University. 

One of the features of the Yannan Garden is its different styles of houses, including both typical Western-style small houses and Chinese-style old courtyards surrounded by low walls. Most of the building materials used for these houses were imported, making them even more exquisite.

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Many respectable PKU scientists, professors, and writers have spent their lives in Yannan Garden. They have deeply influenced the development of China and made a great contribution to both China and PKU. Countless stories and anecdotes about them and their houses have been passed down from generation to generation (read more about Yannan Garden here).

First presented in 2000, the annual UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation aim at “recognizing the efforts of private individuals and organizations in restoring, conserving, and transforming structures and buildings of heritage value in the region,” according to UNESCO.

A total of 12 projects from China, India, and Nepal have been selected by the award jury this year based on “their understanding of place, their technical achievements, and their sustainability and impact,” after a deliberation process in November 2023 that reviewed 48 project entries from eight countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

Edited by: Dennis Meng
Source: UNESCO; Cultural Relics of the Yan Garden