…to preserve our heritage
…to preserve our heritage
PARAMARIBO AS WORLD HERITAGE:
OUR OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUE
Paramaribo’s historic city center represents a former Dutch colonial town from the 17th and 18th centuries and is composed of mainly wooden buildings with a plain and symmetrical architectural style, the cross-over of different European and North American influences and Creole craftsmanship.
Due to these unique characteristics, the historic city center of Paramaribo (48 ha and 100 ha of Buffer Zones) was designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site in 2002. This was a recognition of the outstanding universal values (OUV) of Paramaribo.
THE RELEVANT CRITERIA FOR THE WOLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER PARAMARIBO AS HAVING UNIVERSAL OUTSTANDING VALUES WERE:
- Paramaribo’s historic city center exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design;
- Paramaribo’s historic city center is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrate (a) significant stage(s) in human history.
The city center has been nominated, as the nomination dossier points out, because of four aspects
- The street pattern and urban layout (the way the city was designed) that has remained unchanged for the past 300 years;
- The ensembles of monumental buildings; delineation of the nominated part of the city center is now justified by the occurrence of ensembles; there are few, if any, ensembles outside the selected area and therefore there is no reason to fear violation;
- The wooden historic architecture: these buildings guarantee the continuation of a wooden city outside the nominated area;
- The historical functions of Paramaribo: trade, port, residential area and seat of government.
GENERAL STATE OF URBAN DECAY IN OUR HISTORIC CITY CENTER
The area has been undergoing physical, social and economic deterioration, as identified in recent studies, which places high risk on invaluable heritage buildings and on the continuity of the UNESCO heritage site designation.
The central area has become an institutional and commercial hub, losing most of its permanent residents, who have moved to newer and more dynamic urban sub centers farther from the central area. The loss of “wealthier” residents and the businesses that cater to them has led to the majority of buildings in the central area becoming occupied by governmental offices. Indeed, 70% of the 495 buildings located in the Historic Core Zone are currently used for government offices and public services, 18% for commercial purposes, and 12% for residential purposes or the buildings remain empty.
At the same time, the lack of physical improvements and the low quality of public services have contributed to a general state of urban decay in the central area, with repercussions in the deterioration of existing historical buildings.
GIVEN THIS SITUATION, THERE IS AN URGENT NEED TO TACKLE THE KEY PROBLEMS AFFECTING THE AREA, PRIORITIZING THE FOLLOWING ISSUES:
- Physical deterioration and vulnerability. The inner city’s urban infrastructure is dilapidated. The majority of historical buildings, made of wood, are poorly maintained, and many have been lost in fires and demolitions or collapsed due to lack of maintenance;
- The few public open spaces available are poorly organized, inefficiently connected to the rest of the city and with few amenities, limiting their enjoyment and usefulness of residents;
- The area also faces traffic congestion, poor road maintenance, inadequate sidewalks and lack of parking spaces. Traffic congestion is aggravated by the concentration of public institutions, the disorderly use of public spaces by buses and other public transports, while alternative modes of mobility, such as bicycle paths are inexistent;
- Another problem affecting the historical area is its potential vulnerability to flooding, especially during the rainy season. Climate change effects will only aggravate the current situation.
OUR STATUS IS IN JEAPORDY
Given the above circumstances, the status of Paramaribo’s historic center as a World Heritage Site is in jeopardy. From 2014 to the present, the conservation status is assessed biannually by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) on behalf of the World Heritage Committee, which then makes a decision. The current loan partially supports the implementation of the recommendations proposed by the World Heritage Committee.
JOINT GOAL & MULTI-SECTORAL APPROACH
Revitalizing Paramaribo’s historic center will require a multisectoral approach that combines strategic urban infrastructure, social and economic interventions, as well as leadership by one management structure.
THE PARAMARIBO URBAN REHABILITATION PROGRAM (PURP)
The overall objective of the Paramaribo Urban Rehabilitation Program is to contribute to the socio-economic revitalization of Paramaribo’s historic center.
The specific objectives are:
- attract new residents and commercial activities;
- restore to value its cultural heritage;
- reduce traffic congestion;
- strengthen the institutional framework for managing its sustainable development.
THE PROGRAM CONSISTS OF (3) COMPONENTS:
- Component 1 comprises the design and implementation of strategic urban interventions intended to reverse the physical deterioration of the historic center and trigger a sustainable revitalization process;
- Component 2’s goal is to contribute to the revitalization process by turning the historic center into a lively part of the city attracting new residents and businesses;
- Component 3 will establish and strengthen the institutions required to guide the historic center’s revitalization process in a sustainable manner and allow the effective implementation of this program’s activities reinforcement.
A communication strategy is included in the last component to raise public awareness of the cultural heritage of our historic center for both the general public and specific audiences, involving key stakeholders throughout the process.