Information on the restoration of Shibam, Yemen, which received an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007, is available to architecture faculties and students through the on-line archive, ArchNet.org. Shibam is of international architectural significance not only as an outstanding example of mud-brick architecture, but also because the catalyst for its rehabilitation was not the preservation of buildings but rather the creation of new economic and social structures that restored the vitality of the city. Most importantly, it has given local people the means and the confidence to take concrete steps towards improving their own lives.
Photo: AKDN / Anne de HenningIn many architecture departments in the developing world, resources for the teaching of architecture were once severely limited. A single professor was usually the guardian of important publications and a few hundred slides. Duplication was prohibitively costly. Access to images – critical for students of architecture – was an obstacle to the improvement of architectural education.
In response, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create www.ArchNet.org, which now makes these resources available – for free – through the Internet. Built on the combined collections of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the website is a growing bank of online resources including photographs, publications, field trip reports, lecture symposia, journals and books. Participants from around the world continually add to the bank of online resources.
Several thousand individual members from 90 countries – the majority of whom are students of architecture – share their work with the community of ArchNet users. ArchNet has also become a collaborative tool for students from around the world to pool their knowledge and work together on projects addressing specific problems, such as post-earthquake and post-war reconstruction.
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