Winners of the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2015 honoured at a high-profile ceremony at Oslo City Hall

The winners of the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2015 were celebrated this evening during a high-profile event at Oslo City Hall. The European Heritage Awards Ceremony was co-hosted by Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra, on behalf of the President of the organisation, Plácido Domingo, who unfortunately had to cancel his attendance due to family circumstances. The Maestro sent a special message to congratulate the 30 winners.

Winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2015
The event was honoured by the presence of HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway. The Mayor of Oslo Fabian Stang and the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment Tine Sundtoft welcomed an audience of 600 heritage professionals, volunteers and supporters from all over Europe. The entire ceremony was live streamed on the Europa Nostra YouTube channel.

During the ceremony, the seven Grand Prix laureates and the Public Choice Award winner, chosen from among this year’s winning projects, were announced.

The seven Grand Prix laureates, selected by independent juries and entitled to receive €10,000 each, are:

Category Conservation

▪ Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, HUNGARY
▪ Salt Valley of Añana, Basque Country, SPAIN
▪ Armenian Church of St. Giragos in Diyarbakir, TURKEY

Category Research and Digitization
▪ Wonders of Venice: Virtual Online Treasures in St. Mark’s Area, ITALY

Category Dedicated Service
▪ Rundling Association, Jameln, GERMANY
▪ Churches Conservation Trust, London, UNITED KINGDOM

Category Education, Training and Awareness-Raising
▪ Programme for Owners of Rural Buildings in Estonia, Tallinn, ESTONIA

The Public Choice Award, chosen in an online poll conducted by Europa Nostra, goes to the conservation of the Nuragic Sculptures of Monte Prama in Sardinia, ITALY.

The EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards was presented to 28 winners from 15 countries taking part in the EU Creative Europe programme. Europa Nostra Awards were also given to two projects from European countries not taking part in that programme, namely Armenia and Russia.

In his special message for the laureates of the awards Europa Nostra’s President Plácido Domingo stated: “We celebrate your talents and skills and we honour your vision and courage. Each of you has made a real difference! Each of you has shown the way to be followed by others across Europe, and indeed across the globe.” He added: “The time has come for Europe – both for the European Union and the Council of Europe – to develop hand in hand an ambitious strategy for Cultural Heritage, in close partnership wíth and active participation of civil society. It is our shared goal to continue building the policy momentum for heritage in Europe. 2018 will – we all hope – be the European Year of Cultural Heritage.”

EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics stated: “Since 2002, with the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, the European Commission and Europa Nostra have celebrated exceptional examples of conservation, research, education, training and awareness-raising of Europe’s cultural heritage. This year the choice was particularly challenging. The quality and diversity of the projects highlight once more the high levels of skills and dedication which characterise Europe’s heritage sector. The value of heritage is not only symbolic; it has a positive impact on economic growth, social cohesion and the quality of life in our regions and cities. We should therefore keep supporting the heritage sector, also for the benefit of future generations. I congratulate all the winners, and especially the Grand Prix laureates and the Public Choice Award winner.”

Jury’s comments on the Grand Prix winners

Category Conservation

Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, HUNGARY
“This project was regarded by the Jury as an example of best practice in restoration. It was a far from simple matter: the building is a special example of the elaborate European style of the Sezession, and combines aesthetic splendour with innovative functional design. But the standards required for international music performance today are incomparably higher than those of 1904, and the new technology required to achieve them had to be accommodated within a precious period setting. The result is outstanding in its character as a Gesamtkunstwerk and as an extremely complicated technical building, without the compromise of either feature.”

Salt Valley of Añana, Basque Country, SPAIN
“The Jury was somewhat bowled over by the sheer scale of this project. It concerns not only the landscape of an entire valley but also the economic life of its inhabitants, signifying the recovery of an industry that existed from distant times until very recently. The Jury noted that the salt exported from the Valley is renowned in the most prestigious kitchens, not only in the Basque Country, but internationally. The skilled employment of restoration techniques, particularly in timber, was commended.”

Armenian Church of St. Giragos in Diyarbakir, TURKEY
“It was the demonstration of local support which particularly impressed the Jury in this case. The effort to restore the main church of the Armenians in Diyarbakir, after the exile of its people, is an outstanding act of reconciliation for the city and its citizens. The project developed as a result of extensive research into old documents for the reinstatement of the lost elements, mainly the roof, bell tower and interior furnishings. The involvement of the Armenian community in the restoration of the monument has contributed immensely to peace, reconciliation and the improved social integration of its people, as well as attracting visiting Armenians from all over the world.”

Category Research and Digitization

Wonders of Venice: Virtual Online Treasures in St. Mark’s Area, ITALY
“This digitization project much impressed the Jury. A multilingual platform (10 languages), accessible on a wide range of media, it aids promotional events and research, and is useful to both experts and tourists alike. The challenges of complexity, the distinction between the real and the virtual, a range of academic disciplines and various objects, are all successfully incorporated into this highly commendable and valuable project.”

Category Dedicated Service

The Rundling Association, Jameln, GERMANY
“The Jury praised the commitment and strategic vision of successive generations of unpaid volunteers who have worked to prevent these fascinating medieval settlements and their structured planning system from disappearing, revitalizing them as thriving communities. Their creation of the state-of-the-art Wendlandhof Museum and its informative visitor experience has been crucial for public understanding of the rarity of these historic clusters. The unusual plan of the Rundling villages and their rural architecture create a unique cultural landscape which is worthy of support in the project’s bid for World Heritage Status.”

Churches Conservation Trust, London, UNITED KINGDOM
“The Trust’s early recognition of the importance of safeguarding the religious and architectural significance of historic places of worship and their essential function as centres of community life was particularly admired by the Jury. Public disengagement with religion (Christianity at least) has made this task even more necessary. This long-established but still unique partnership between Church and State should be a model for all such collaborations. The Jury also appreciated the tremendously significant role the Trust has played in the foundation of the Future of Religious Heritage Network.”

Category Education, Training and Awareness-Raising

Programme for Owners of Rural Buildings in Estonia, Tallinn, ESTONIA
“Across Europe, owners of authentic homes which are not officially listed are often left to their own devices with regard to their maintenance and restoration. The Jury were pleased to proclaim this Museum’s initiative to assist owners of traditional rural houses in Estonia with practical hands-on training as an example to the rest of Europe. It helps not only to preserve age-old building skills and the use of traditional materials, but also to promote the assimilation of modern technology into the adaptation of these houses for the 21st century. The fact that so many homeowners have participated over the years is evidence of the programme’s practical success.”

Public Choice Award winner

Nuragic Sculptures of Monte Prama in Sardinia, ITALY
The Nuragic civilization dominated Sardinia for centuries, from the Bronze Age (1800 BC) to the 2nd century AD. The name derives from its most characteristic monuments, the nuraghe, which consist of tower-fortresses. Another element of Nuragic culture was sculptures such as those found in 1974 in a field at Monte Prama. The substantial quantity (25 standing figures and 13 models), dimensions (two metres tall and weighing 300kg) and quality make this one of the most important archaeological collections unearthed in the whole western Mediterranean region. Out of the 5178 stone fragments discovered, 1202 were reassembled into five archers, four warriors, 16 boxers and 13 nuraghe models. This project was a multidisciplinary effort aimed at bringing together conservation, museology and community involvement at regional, national and international levels.

Joana Pinheiro
Europa Nostra Communications Officer
+31 70 302 40 55

Elena Bianchi
Europa Nostra Heritage Awards Coordinator
+31 70 302 40 58

Lucia Caudet
European Commission Officer
+32 2 29 56182

Mirna Bratoz
European Commission Officer
+32 2 29 87278

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