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Cultural Development

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture successfully completed the restoration of the Old Dispensary, now renamed the Stone Town Cultural Centre.The Aga Khan Trust for Culture successfully completed the restoration of the Old Dispensary, now renamed the Stone Town Cultural Centre.

Please also see the Aga Khan Historic Cities Zanzibar page.

The Trust has been active in Zanzibar since 1989, successfully completing the restoration of the Old Dispensary and the old Customs House, as well as the rehabilitation of Kelele Square and Fordhani Park. In all, eleven buildings in Stone Town – many of them on the point of collapse – and a number of public spaces were restored as part of a programme to demonstrate the building and restoration techniques needed to preserve this World Heritage Site. The Trust has also worked with the Government and international partners to provide training workshops on conservation practice and traditional construction methods for craftsmen, building professionals and Government officers.

The sea front has been the focus of the Trust’s restoration endeavours, which include not only the restoration of the Old Dispensary, but also assistance to convert an important but abandoned structure located at the south-eastern edge of the Stone Town, the former telecommunications building erected on a highly visible and strategic site on the sea front in the 1930s, which was subsequently transformed into a hotel.

The new hotel - the Zanzibar Serena Inn - was inaugurated at the same time as the restored Stone Old Dispensary in early March 1997. Both projects constitute models for the wide range of interventions needed in the on-going conservation and revitalisation process of the Stone Town. The state-of-the-art restoration of the Old Dispensary, a key historic building, includes research into and adaptation of the original building technologies. The conversion and adaptation of the telecommunications building ensured the survival of this abandoned structure which, if permitted to further fall into disrepair or if replaced by a less appropriate new building, would have threatened to become an eyesore in the old city.

Forodhani Park, the main public space in Zanzibar, after restoration by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.The US$ 2.4 million restoration of Forodhani Park in Zanzibar’s Historic Stone Town was completed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in July 2009. The revitalisation project has transformed the heavily used park – one of the last open spaces in this densely populated World Heritage Site – and upgraded social and recreational amenities in the historic Park. Works included the restoration of the walkways, landscape improvements, infrastructure upgrading including lighting, sewage, drainage and civic amenities and the rehabilitation of the seawall fronting the Park. It was intended to be a logical extension of the work already completed by AKTC in Kelele Square. More.

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