Historic Cities Programme
Revitalising Zanzibar’s Stone Town
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has been active in Zanzibar since 1989, successfully completing the restoration of 11 landmark buildings (many of them on the point of collapse), upgrading housing and rehabilitating public spaces, notably Kelele Square and Forodhani Park. Inspired by His Highness the Aga Khan’s commitment to the preservation of historic cities in the Muslim world, AKTC has been working to prove cultural heritage can become a catalyst for positive change.
Responding to Emerging Challenges
When restoring Baltit Fort, in Hunza, Pakistan, it was the aim of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to use the restoration as a catalyst for the generation of new employment opportunities, the provision of training in jobs that were needed for a changing economy and the creation of new forms of governance to maintain and protect the area’s rich cultural heritage.
Integrating Culture in the Development Process
An important lesson arising from AKDN experience has been that there are few area development contexts in which a single institution can have the necessary impact on the quality of life. Rather, a broad spectrum of national and international partners must be engaged in the process of area development.
Revitalising Citadels in Syria
For the past few years, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has been restoring three citadels in Syria - in Aleppo, Masyaf and Salah ad-Din - under a partnership agreement with the Syrian General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums. The scope of conservation at the sites has varied, but at each site the work has been closely linked to the generation of socio-economic benefits.
A "Green Lung" for Cairo
In 1984, His Highness the Aga Khan announced his decision to finance the creation of a park for the citizens of the Egyptian capital. The only central location that was of suitable scale was the derelict Darassa site, a 30-hectare (74-acre) mound of rubble that had been a debris dump for 500 years. Al-Azhar Park, undertaken by the AKTC, has since proven to be both a popular open space for the people of Cairo and a powerful catalyst for urban renewal in the neighbouring district of Darb al-Ahmar.
Partnering for Urban Renewal
The complexity of conserving and revitalising an historic neighbourhood requires diverse knowledge and many disciplines, ranging from archaeology to engineering, from horticulture to preservation, from social mobilisation to public health. In successful projects such as Azhar Park in Cairo, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has brought a variety of knowledge to bear by creating informal partnerships with foreign and local experts, academic institutions, the private sector, government ministries and local communities.
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