Emergency Assistance to Fort at British Komenda

Project name :

The reconstruction of collapsed wall and repair works on the Fort at British Komenda

Budget :

0 - 100K$

Project duration :

01-10-2021

Location :

Accra, Ghana
© UNESCO

The deterioration of one of the external walls of Fort at British Komenda

In July 2021, one of the external walls of the Fort at British Komenda unexpectedly collapsed when Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB) staff were undertaking preparatory works to reconstruct damaged plinth. Community members joined the GMMB staff to set up barriers around the incident area and to fix props for the structure. 

Fort Komenda is a component of the serial World Heritage property Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions. The Forts and Castles were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 and are located along the coast of Ghana, spanning the Volta Region through the Greater Accra and Central Regions to the Western Region. The 28 components erected between 1482 and 1786 played an important role in the gold and slave trade for four centuries and constitute a significant and controversial symbol of European-African encounters as well as the origin of the African Diaspora. The components have enormous historical relevance for the local communities along the shoreline, Ghana and the rest of the world.

Within the framework of the implementation of the 1972 Convention on Cultural Heritage, UNESCO, ICOMOS and ICCROM undertook an Advisory Mission in 2019 and Reactive Monitoring Mission in 2020 to assess the state of conservation of these Forts and Castles and the threats they are facing. A major finding of the monitoring mission was the degradation of the structural integrity of components of the property that undermined the authenticity and threatened the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. 

The collapse of the external wall at British Komenda reinforces the need to urgently assess structural stability of the components of the Forts and Castles as advised in the 2019 and 2020 mission reports. In July 2021, the World Heritage Committee at its extended 44th session requested Ghana to implement the recommendations of the 2020 mission in Decision: 44 COM 7B.5, where sustainable planning and management of tourism were noted as some of the most pressing challenges concerning the future of the World Heritage in Ghana.

In the framework of UNESCO’s programme for culture in emergencies, an emergency response activity is currently being implemented by GMMB to undertake urgent stabilization and rehabilitation works at Fort Komenda. It will contribute to having a safe World Heritage property and ensure preservation of architectural attributes, that the component contributes to the OUV of the World Heritage Site in line with the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention on the protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage.

© UNESCO

Restoration in progress at the Fort at British Komenda

Uncertainty of the structural stability of the Fort requires a structural assessment to guide minor conservation repair works that can be undertaken. The structural assessment will guide interventions to stop the progressive deterioration and prevent any further collapse of the structures.

Implementing the proposed project will be a positive step in drawing needed attention to conservation of components of the World Heritage site that are in ruins. It will also allow for opening up the site to visitors and ensure safety of community members, especially children, who go through the site daily. The project has the potential to educate the local community about the importance of the site through informal interactions in its execution.

Project information

Objectives:
The overall objective of the project is to preserve the Outstanding Universal Value of the Forts and Castles through conservation repair works on one of its components, namely, the Fort at British Komenda.

Specific objectives:
1. Reconstruct external wall
2. Preserve existing structures of the Fort
3. Undertake appropriate interventions to halt progressive decay
4. Ensure safety of the structures to visitors

Project Description:
The proposed project aims at reinstating the collapsed external wall and implementing necessary interventions to stop the progressive deterioration of the structures. The project activities include:
1. Structural assessment of all structures of the Fort 
2. Removal of vegetation on terraces and external walls of the Fort and removal of aggregate on the terraces to expose stone masonry floors 
3. Reconstruction of external wall 
4. Consolidation works on sections of foundations 
5. Treatment of stone masonry surfaces to prevent rainwater infiltration 
6. Repair of major cracks and very porous grout material

The results expected from the project:
- Complete reconstruction of collapsed external wall
- Removal of all vegetation within wall and floor crevices.
- Treatment of visible stone masonry floor at sections of roof terraces
- Replacement of stone in masonry walls
- Partial consolidation of parts of the foundation of the Fort

Impact
The project will halt progressive deterioration of the structures of the Fort and thus contribute to safeguarding the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in line with the 1972 Convention.

Contact person

Carl Ampah
National Professional Officer for Culture