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AKTC Work in the world
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Delhi: Humayun’s Tomb bylaws to serve as model for heritage ..

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monumental effort

The Qutb Shahi Heritage Park in Hyderabad is a unique necropolis complex built during the reign of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, which ruled the Hyderabad region in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 2013, the Tata Trusts partnered the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to restore the major tombs and structures at the site. The results — as these before-and-after images reveal — have been striking.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Egypt struggles to restore Cairo's historic heart


Islamic Cairo is packed with ornate monuments, mosques and mausoleums, and its narrow streets are punctuated with trinket shops, cafes and traditional old homes -- an urban fabric layered in centuries of history.

For Luis Monreal, head of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, refurbishing the area is a never-ending project.

"It's like painting an aircraft carrier: when you finish one side, you have to start over again on the other," he said.

Part of the Aga Khan Foundation, his outfit has been working on restoration projects in the area since the early 2000s.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2018 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aga Khan's Gift to Islam

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Penang extends Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Think City collab

Published on 21 December 2018

By Opalyn Mok

GEORGE TOWN, Dec 21 — The Penang government renewed its collaboration with Think City and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for another three years to complete key public realm improvement projects in the heritage zone.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the three partners agreed to the extension with the aim of completing the North Seafront conservation works at Fort Cornwallis and the establishment of a Maritime Museum in the Syed Alatas Mansion.

“Over the past three years, our focus has been on public realm improvements. Going forward we will need a different approach in order to demonstrate that conservation and development can be self-sustaining,” Chow said in a statement today, after his visit to His Highness Prince Shah Karim Aga Khan at his residence in France recently.

Chow said the three partners have also agreed to expand the role of its special purpose vehicle — George Town Conservation and Development Corporation Sdn Bhd (GTCDC) — to include large-scale master planning especially George Town’s Northern and Eastern Seafront.

Chow said the Aga Khan Trust for Culture established Foundation Chantilly, in close partnership with the Institute de France, which is a financially sustainable model to conserve, activate and develop a tourism economy based on culture.

“A similar model could be applied to George Town,” he said.

The Penang lawmaker, in his capacity as the chairman of GTCDC, led a delegation from Penang and Think City to France this week.

He led discussions with GTCDC partners, including Think City and Aga Khan Trust for Culture, to review the past three years of collaboration since the signing of the GTCDC Management Collaboration Agreement on October 16 in 2015.

GTCDC is a tripartite partnership between the Penang State Government’s Chief Minister’s Incorporated (CMI), Think City and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture that was established in 2015.

The special purpose vehicle, through CMI with strong support from the Penang Island City Council (MBPP), has 17 ongoing public realms improvement and conservation projects at a total cost of approximately RM48 million.

Out of the 17 projects, five projects were fully completed, namely the Armenian Park and Backlanes (2015), the Esplanade drainage and subsoil improvement project (2016), the restoration of the Fountain Garden (2018) and the China Street Ghaut streetscape upgrading (2018).

“GTCDC will be working closely with MBPP to mitigate the effects of gentrification and develop strategies to repopulate the core of the historic area,” Chow said.

He added that 2019 will be a crucial year for GTCDC as many of the projects will come to fruition.

“The GTCDC will also be focusing on capacity building programmes and hopes to make Penang a national centre for conservation works in the country and the region,” he said.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Emir of Bukhara’s Forlorn Garden (1): Revealing Kabul’s hidden history

Author: Jolyon Leslie
Date: 23 December 2018
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The residential quarters of the exiled Emir, looted and damaged in the 1990s. Photo: Jolyon Leslie/2006

The residential quarters of the exiled Emir, looted and damaged in the 1990s. Photo: Jolyon Leslie/2006

Kabul is a city of secrets. An outsider needs both curiosity and patience to discover the hidden layers that lie behind mud walls or at the end of dusty lanes. This heritage is however at risk from indiscriminate demolitions and new construction, much of which is uncontrolled. The stories behind places also risk being lost, as some of their names indicate; a busy traffic intersection at Chahrrahi-ye Zambaq (Iris crossroads) may have been a tranquil garden; what is now a refuse-clogged drain once supplied fresh water to the neighbourhood of Ju-ye Shir (Sweet water channel) from a distant spring. AAN guest author Jolyon Leslie, who has campaigned for and contributed to safeguarding built heritage, highlights the threats currently facing historic sites in Kabul, both from physical ‘development’ and loss of memory in this AAN Christmas read.

This dispatch is part 1 of a short series about the last Amir of Bukhara who ended up in Afghan exile in 1921. His country, once Afghanistan’s neighbour to the north, does no longer exist, having been divided between Uzbekistan an Tajikistan in Soviet times. The text is an extended version of ‘Notebook 058: Garden of Exile’ published in 2012 as part of dOCUMENTA 13 art exhibition at Kassel (Germany). Part 2 on 27 December 2018 will look at Amir Alem Khan’s resting place in Kabul and the two countries’ relationship.

Development or destruction?

The brutal changes wrought to the urban landscape over the last decade have obliterated important traces of Kabul’s history, as a tide of money feeds speculative construction, much of which is illegal. Worsening security seems to have little impact on the proliferation of brash multi-storey blocks that now crowd the skyline, often funded from dubious sources. From within their heavily-defended compounds in the central ‘green zone’, Afghan politicians and their diplomatic guests tend to portray this rash of new construction as a sign of development – rather than admitting that it is also a concrete manifestation of the corruption and greed that has dogged many aspects of international engagement in the country since 2002.

A similar disconnect prevails with efforts to safeguard sites or areas of historic significance. Most Afghan politicians are keen to affirm their commitment to preservation of their heritage, but it has proved difficult to enforce controls as long as municipal staff are willing to turn a blind eye to the approach of bulldozers – usually for a small consideration from developers, who might themselves be government officials. As on other issues, the failure to uphold the rule of law tends to be portrayed as a problem of ‘lack of capacity’, although such capacity seems to be in abundance in the lucrative realm of ‘redevelopment’. And with most young Afghans not taught about their culture or heritage in the classroom, awareness as to what they stand to lose is largely absent, presenting a challenge for public campaigns.

City of gardens

There are, however, corners that have thus far escaped the khakbad (dust-devil) of transformation, and hopefully might be safeguarded for future generations. Among these are some of the gardens that were once key to the character of Kabul, and seduced the likes of Babur, the first Mughal, whose memoirs offer a vivid picture of how central these were to court life in the early 16thcentury. A garden bearing his name was re-opened to the public in 2008 following restoration and is now popular for family picnics. (1)

Some distance to the south of Bagh-e Babur lies a less well-known site, approached along dusty tracks bordered by high mud walls over which festoons of white nastaran (dog-roses) hang. On the urban fringe, the landscape here is dotted with qala (family homesteads) with blank defensive outer walls and turrets set among irrigated fields and orchards. One such property, Qala-ye Fatuh seemed on my first visit in 2004 (2) to be abandoned, with its avenues of mature walnut and mulberry trees choked by invasive saplings and weeds. Nature appeared to be taking over the ruins of a scattering of buildings in one corner of the site. Despite this air of neglect, water flowed through open channels and villagers were working on small plots they had reclaimed for cultivation. One of them explained that this is known locally as Bagh-e Padshah-e Bukhara, or the Garden of the Emir of Bukhara.
One of the war-damaged pavilions in the garden. Photo: Jolyon Leslie/2006

One of the war-damaged pavilions in the garden. Photo: Jolyon Leslie/2006

Curious as to the history of the garden, I came to learn that Muhammad Alem Khan, emir of Bukhara, lived here in exile for more than twenty years. Unlike Babur, who dealt with being forced from his home in Ferghana (in present-day Uzbekistan) by embarking on a series of ambitious military campaigns that eventually enabled him to control much of India, Alem Khan’s exile was spent in this garden, plotting unsuccessfully to reclaim his throne in Bukhara. The forlorn landscape and ruined buildings there bear mute witness to a little-known aspect of modern Afghan history.

The emir in exile

Alem Khan’s family ruled over the Emirate of Bukhara for a century before its incorporation in 1868 as a protectorate of the Russian Empire. A photograph taken in Bukhara in 1911 shows him resplendent in a blue silk chapan (coat) embroidered with tulips and irises. Having initially viewed the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution as an opportunity to realise his dream of establishing an Islamic caliphate across the region, Alem Khan soon realised that the revolutionaries’ social and economic reforms were at odds with his conservative views. He began to organise resistance, but his forces were no match for the Red Army troops who occupied Bukhara in 1921, causing the emir to flee. After an unsuccessful attempt to mobilise opposition from the east of his country, he accepted an invitation from the Afghan ruler Amanullah Khan to visit Kabul, crossing the frontier in 1921 from Tajikistan.
Painted mural over the fireplace in the residential quarters. Photo: Jolyon Leslie/2006

Painted mural over the fireplace in the residential quarters. Photo: Jolyon Leslie/2006

Little did Alem Khan imagine that this visit would became permanent exile. With his entourage, he was initially quartered close to the royal palace, In Muradkhane, on the north bank of the Kabul river, from where his host monitored his attempts to rally resistance to the Bolsheviks, with whom Amanullah Khan – despite some ups and downs – maintained friendly relations. It may have been the exiled emir’s persistence in seeking foreign support – he made several requests to the British Indian government in the belief that the Soviets represented a common foe – that prompted his re-location to the secluded compound at Qala-ye Fatuh.

This move did not however prevent Alem Khan from maintaining contact with Bukharan rebels. On the defection to the rebel side by Enver Pasha, a former Young Turk and Minister of War of the Ottoman Empire but now in exile and sent by Lenin to contain the rebellion, he was promptly appointed commander-in-chief by the emir and went on to organise raids on occupied Bukhara. Amanullah would have monitored these developments closely, for he too dreamed of a confederation of Central Asian states, but with Afghanistan at its centre. Despite having signed a treaty of friendship with the Soviets, the Afghans quietly supplied arms to the Bukharan and other anti-Soviet rebels in the former Russian province of Turkestan. This support proved to be in vain, for the Red Army had largely suppressed them by 1922, killing Enver in that year. (The insurgency continued for many more years – more about this in part 2 of this series.) Despite this setback, Alem Khan seems not to have wavered from the conviction that he would return to Bukhara and regain his throne.

This belief might have made it easier to cope with the straitened circumstances in which the emir then lived, which were in stark contrast to the splendours of Bukhara. The quarters in Qala-ye Fatuh comprised a series of free-standing buildings ranged around neat flowerbeds and ornamental trees – now completely overgrown. Curiously, the residential spaces are tiny, even by Afghan standards, and one can but wonder how the corpulent emir and his entourage coped. This might be why Alem Khan appears rather disconsolate in a photograph taken in one of these miniature rooms in 1922. (3) The stenciled wall decoration visible in the photograph survives to this day, but the carpet at the emir’s feet is long gone, replaced by drying animal fodder. Over a fireplace in an adjoining room is a mural depicting a bucolic scene of castles beside a lake ringed by rugged mountains, perhaps intended to remind the household of happier times. Only the biplane that soars above this painted landscape seems to point to the future.

It was to the future, and the possibilities of modern technology, that the emir’s host Amanullah looked as he embarked on an ambitious program of reforms. Part of his vision for a modern capital was the creation of a new government enclave in Darulaman, where a foundation stone was laid in 1923. Work on the elevated Secretariat building (that was badly damaged during inter-factional fighting in 1993/4) must have been visible from Qala-ye Fatuh, and might even have reminded the emir of his grand palaces back in Bukhara. (4)

Alem Khan’s fortunes were hostage to Afghanistan’s turbulent politics. Soon after Amanullah’s abdication in 1929, the leader of the rebels who had overthrown him, Habibullah Kalakani, called for Bukhara’s liberation from Soviet occupation. (Find more background about him in this AAN dispatch.) The exiled emir appears in several photographs of public events at the time, and his presence may have lent a degree of legitimacy to Kalakani’s rule in Kabul. It was less than a year before he was in turn overthrown and then executed by Nader Shah, who turned a blind eye to Soviet incursions into northern Afghanistan in pursuit of Bukharan rebels.

Today, Qala-ye Fatuh’s forlorn garden and ruined buildings seem to resonate with the sadness that Alem Khan must have felt as he heard news of the Soviets’ consolidation of their grip on Bukhara. One can imagine how he must have struggled to keep up appearances in the tiny spaces in which he now lived, perhaps pacing up and down the avenues of trees to make sense of what was happening in the world outside of the walled compound. A section of an ornate plaster fireplace, now partly buried in rubble, is a reminder of the elegance of some of the buildings, even though its rusting corrugated-iron roof now hangs over ruined walls like a shroud. Nearby, shafts of bright sunlight penetrate through the shattered wood ceiling of a mosque, inside which painted decoration and inscriptions survive, albeit defaced.
Detail of moulded plaster fireplace in one of the damaged pavilions. Photo: Jolyon Leslie/2011

Detail of moulded plaster fireplace in one of the damaged pavilions. Photo: Jolyon Leslie/2011

This destruction is a clue to the next chapter in the history of Qala-ye Fatuh. Its ruined buildings and overgrown landscape are not only the consequence of a natural process of decay, but of destruction caused by mujahedin fighters who, after the fall of the Soviet- backed government in Kabul in 1992, occupied this area. In another twist of history, these mujahedin belonged to the factions who claim to have forced occupying Soviet forces to withdraw from their country in 1989 – a goal that Alem Khan had pursued for his country from this very garden 70 years earlier. (5)

Along with other sites across the fast-changing urban landscape, Qala-ye Fatuh serves as a palimpsest of an important period in Kabul’s history. Since I first visited the garden in 2004, Afghanistan has experienced exceptional urban growth, as families are displaced from insecure rural areas or move to towns and cities in search of a livelihood. With almost a third of Afghans now thought to be urban residents, according to World Bank figures for 2017 there is huge pressure on land, housing and basic services. It is inevitable that investment to keep pace with this growing demand will come at some cost to urban heritage, but more can and should be done to document and, where possible, safeguard, sites like Qala-ye Fatuh that hold the history of the country – and without which future generation of Afghans will be the poorer.

Edited by Sari Kouvo and Thomas Ruttig

(1) Implemented by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, whose programme the author managed at the time.

(2) In the course of planning the rehabilitation of Bagh-e Babur, efforts were made to identify other significant walled gardens that survived in and around Kabul.

(3) One of series of photographs taken by Wilhelm Rieck, a German engineer, who was engaged to oversee various construction works in Kabul in the 1920s.

(4) In a curious echo of history, in 2017 President Ashraf Ghani pledged funds for the restoration of the Darulaman palace as part of an ambitious plan for an administrative quarter to be built in much the same area that Amanullah Khan chose for his ‘new Kabul’ – designed in 1921 by French architect Godard but not realised.

(5) A new contingent of ‘guests’ arrived in 1996 in nearby Rishkhor, where an al-Qaeda base was established, only to be obliterated by US missiles two years later. The craters remain to this day.
Tagged with: Alem Khan, Bukhara, garden, Kabul
Thematic Category: Context & Culture
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Three historic houses to be restored in Wazir Khan Square
by Shahab Omer

24 Dec 2018

–WCLA takes restoration of at least a century old structures with AKCSP’s technical assistance

–Mulls turning houses into museum, coffee houses or library after successful restoration

LAHORE: The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA), with the technical assistance of Aga Khan Trust for Culture Services Pakistan (AKCSP), has taken up the restoration of three historic houses located south of the Wazir Khan Mosque Square, which will be completed by December 2019.

As per the details, the structures were the property of the Punjab Auqaf Department and were leased to other people until acquired by WCLA by paying Rs32 million as compensation.

“It was an uphill task to get the properties vacated and we had to pay a huge compensation amount to acquire those properties as families were residing in them. Auqaf Department was also supportive in this process and it was important to do so in order to give the Wazir Khan Square its original feel back. The social mobilisation wing of WCLA has also played a vital role in this,” an official told Pakistan Today.

They added that a few properties were resting on the wall of the Wazir Khan Mosque and were a threat to the mosque’s structure. “All such constructions will be removed whereas the old ones, after being restored, would add a unique feature to the Wazir Khan Square which was recently conserved by WCLA and AKCSP.”

An AKSCSP official told the houses were at least 100 to 150 years old and had an antique architecture as well as stunning woodwork carried out within. “We are starting to restore the structures as their beauty has faded away over the years,” the official said while talking to this scribe.

“I am a frequent visitor of the old city and feel depressed to witness the poor conditions of the ages-old havelis and houses here. I was crossing this chowk when noticed scaffolding being erected around the houses. So glad to see these beautiful structures of the past being restored,” said Azam Saeed, a tourist visiting the Royal Trail.

Restoration will surely give a neater look to the place, he said and lauded WCLA for removing the blacksmiths who had occupied a section of one of the heritage structure.

AKCSP senior architect and consultant Rashid Makhdum said, “One of the houses is some 125 years old and its interior includes remarkable woodwork. We will be restoring it to the fullest of our capabilities while making efforts to return the structure its lost beauty.”

The house resting on one of the walls of the mosque will be removed as well so that the structure of the mosque is not damaged, he said.

“We have started the documentation of the three houses and are using laser scanners as well as electronic distance measuring machines for accurate structure and damage details. We will be consolidating the structure and reviving the old features of the houses,” Makhdum added.

WCLA Conservation and Planning Director Najam Saquib told Pakistan Today that the restoration of the structures was important to bring harmony in the design and shape of the Wazir Khan Square.

“We are also working on the adaptive re-use of these houses and reviewing proposals of turning them into coffee houses, museum or library. Once these houses are restored, they will provide a world-class sitting place for the tourists as so far there are no proper sitting or resting places on the Royal Trail. An estimated amount of Rs20 million would be used for restoring these three houses as there is a lot of intricate work of conservation and restoration involved.”
Shahab Omer
Shahab Omer

The writer is a member of the staff. He can be reached on Twitter: @shahab_omer, and on email:
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Transforming Cities, Transforming Lives: The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme

Wednesday, January 9 2019 to Friday, March 29 2019

The District Architecture Center is pleased to host Transforming Cities, Transforming Lives: The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, an exhibition of 27 regeneration projects from nine countries that demonstrate how culture can have a positive impact well beyond conservation. These projects promote good governance, growth of civil society, rise in incomes and economic opportunities, greater respect for human rights, and better stewardship of the environment—even in the poorest and most remote areas of the globe. While some projects are completed, those that remain in progress go beyond mere technical restoration to address the questions of social and environmental context, adaptive re-use, institutional sustainability, and training.

The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Aga Khan Council for the United States.

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