Mauritius photo of Wooden colonial house in Port Louis

Wooden colonial house in Port Louis

Photography by Photographer Ally Jounaid
45 views  /  Date taken : Mon, Dec 13 2021
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Mauritius' unusual architecture recalls the island's past as a colonial trading post connecting Europe and Asia. The styles and forms of houses introduced by Dutch, French and British settlers from the 17th century onwards, mixed with Indian and East African influences, have resulted in a unique hybrid architecture of international historical, social and artistic significance. Mauritian houses display a variety of designs, materials and decorative elements that are unique to the country. Decades of political, social and economic change have resulted in the systematic destruction of Mauritian architectural heritage. Between 1960 and 1980, the historic houses of the island's highlands (Mauritian Creole houses) disappeared at alarming rates. Recent years have seen the demolition of plantations, residences and civic buildings that have been cleared or extensively renovated for new developments to serve an expanding tourist industry. The capital, Port Louis, remained relatively unchanged until the mid-1990s, but now reflects the irreversible damage that has been inflicted on its built heritage. Rising land values are pitted against the cultural value of historic structures in Mauritius, while the prohibitive costs of maintenance and the steady decline of traditional building skills make investment in preservation more difficult. The 2016 World Monuments Watch asks for further local and international attention to Mauritius' architectural heritage's widespread and continuous degradation. In the face of rapid and unregulated development, the island's built structures and cultural identity continue to suffer. World Monuments Watch encourages the engagement of house and site owners and other local stakeholders, as well as the mobilisation of political and financial forces to promote the preservation of heritage, rather than as an obstacle to sustainable economic development.

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