Conservation & Preservation

World Monuments Fund launches Instagram campaign to save Modern buildings

The initiative comes days after three key structures in India were demolished


The World Monuments Fund (WMF) launched its first Instagram campaign today, 26 April, to draw attention to the plight of the world’s Modern buildings, an increasing number of which are at risk because of the lack of regulations or political will needed to protect them.

The fund kicks off the programme with a list of 30 sites nominated by architects, experts and students posted on its website and is appealing to the public to add to this list by submitting nominations via Instagram. Until 25 May, the fund will add five more buildings to its website each week drawn from the pool of public entries. The list will be sent to an advisory council formed of architects, including Annabelle Selldorf, designers and critics, who will advise the WMF on the next phase of the Modern Century programme.

The WMF’s new initiative could not be more timely: within days of the campaign’s launch, the Indian press reported that developers had razed one of the buildings on the list—the Hall of Nations in New Delhi, India. The country’s first pillar-less building was demolished on 23 April, along with the nearby Hall of Industry and Nehru Pavilion, under the orders of the India Trade Promotion Organisation, a governmental agency, as part of a major redevelopment of the site. The Hall of Nations, designed by the award-winning architect Raj Rewal was part of an exhibition complex built in 1972 to mark the 25th anniversary of India’s independence. The buildings are less than 60 years old and so do not meet the country’s minimum age requirement to receive designation.

Although the plan to demolish the buildings to make room for a mega exhibition and conference centre was met with harsh criticism from both national and international heritage organisations, on 20 April a high court rejected Rewal‘s petition to grant protection to the Hall of Nation, the Hall of Industry and the Nehru Pavilion. A joint statement, from Rewal and representatives from various Indian architectural and heritage bodies, published in the Hindustan Times calls the demolition “an act of outrage” and states that further hearings had been scheduled for 27 April and 1 May.

The WMF’s president Joshua David, says the destruction “just days before its court hearing makes brutally clear the need to rally to protect Modern heritage sites. We hope that our Modern Century programme will raise awareness about Modern treasures like the Hall of Nations and save them from senseless demolition.”

• To submit a nomination via Instagram, use the hashtag #moderncentury and tag @worldmonumentsfund