Location: Rada, Yemen (Arabian Peninsula) Architect: Selma Al-Radi Client: General Organisation for Antiquities, Museums and Manuscripts, Government of the Netherlands Completed: 2005 To download the resources below, you can click on the links or right-click and select 'Save target as': Restoration of the Amiriya Complex Project Brief
A 16th-century Madrasa was restored following centuries of decay. Walls were rebuilt using limestone, baked brick and 'qudad' (a waterproofing mortar). The building was polished, re-plastered and an electrical grid was installed. Carved stucco decorations and tempera wall paintings covering the domes and prayer hall were also repaired. The ground floor has been turned into a museum, to commemorate the restoration work. As the first project of its kind in Yemen, it offered local workers the opportunity to revisit and learn traditional building methods.
Rada is the most important town in the southern half of the eastern plateau. The urban tissue surrounding the complex does not seem to include any contemporary building.
A front courtyard is situated on the south side of the building. It is not rectangular because there is an indentation at its southeast corner, providing direct entrance to the courtyard from ground level.
Qudad decoration is used both inside and outside, here for the various panels and individual figures around the platform on which the domes of the masjid sit, especially on the north side marking the mihrab.
The restoration of the Amiriya complex revived the process of production of certain material as qudad, a mixture of lime mortar and crushed volcanic aggregate. It is used as stucco and plaster on exterior surfaces for waterproofing.
Selma Al-Radi herself started to clean away the many layers of whitewash that covered the carved stucco of the building. Close contact with the material became a means to understand the technique of carving as well as the stages of production.
The major cause of damage to the painting has been earthquakes that have destabilized the structure. The surface of the paint layer also showed dust deposits, cobwebs, mud deposits, soot, whitewash and bird droppings.