About the Programme - Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme
Aga Khan Development Network

About the Historic Cities Programme

The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (AKHCP) has been involved in urban regeneration projects in nine quite different settings in the Islamic world: Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Egypt, India, Mali, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Zanzibar, including nearly twenty distinct but interconnected projects that often are mutually reinforcing. For information on individual programmes, please visit the links under "Countries" in the column on the right.

The Citadel of Masyaf, Syria, after restoration by the Historic Cities Programme.Involvement in single project locations or regions tends to expand in order to constitute a critical mass for positive change - if the environment is found to be responsive. In all project locations, community participation, training of local professionals and local institution-building are essential components.

How the Programme Works
In operational terms, Historic Cities Programme fits its role to the needs of each project and community, and works in any combination of the following capacities:

  • Identifying projects and providing planning assistance to government and local bodies that have recognised conservation potentials
    HCP provides technical expertise, defines opportunities and approaches, prepares feasibility studies, and shapes proposals for submission to local investors or international agencies, including the Trust itself.
  • Planning for conservation and appropriate redevelopment
    HCP undertakes urban conservation and development projects which may include a cluster of buildings, public open spaces between and around buildings, a district, or a complete plan for a historic town. These efforts can move from study and planning through funding and implementation with the help of local institutions, governments, and other funding partners. All such projects aim at restoring and maintaining the socioeconomic and cultural fabric of a designated area.
  • Undertaking selected conservation and restoration projects.
    HCP periodically engages in restoring specific historic sites and buildings. These may be elements of urban landscape or single structures, for which appropriate new functions are developed to meet the social and economic needs of the respective communities.
  • Engaging in associated cultural initiatives in existing project sites to support the long-term viability of conservation projects.
    This is achieved through the re-animation of historic structures in a context of ongoing social and economic change, rather than as an isolated process. All enabling development factors - community support, innovative institutional structures, and commercial potential - are harnessed, whenever possible, to make conservation sustainable.

Click on the image above to view the animated PDF "An Integrated Approach to Urban Rehabilitation" Funding Sources
Typically, HCP plans and executes projects with funding from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and other donors. Many other institutions, such as the Getty Grant Program, World Monuments Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Swiss, Swedish and Norwegian bilateral aid organisations, and The World Bank have sponsored or co-funded HCP activities. Where necessary, HCP establishes local service companies as partners in implementation and prepares them for autonomous operation as self-sustaining community organisations.