Ifrah has been working as a Conservator on the Picture Wall for the last six months. Her primary responsibility is the surface treatment of the wall; cleaning it and stabilising the glaze work. Previously she studied architecture at the National University of Science & Technology, Islamabad. She was always interested in the heritage of Pakistan and Lahore and wanted to work on a heritage project.
“In Pakistan, AKTC is the largest organisation working on historical buildings and neighbourhoods so this was a big opportunity for me. When you study historical buildings you learn so much about historical techniques, construction, and design which you can then use in contemporary designs. We have these practical precedents which have been successful so why not learn from them.”
”I believe in a kind of architecture that helps solve certain problems for people. I am from Multan where it is very hot climate. In Pakistan we have an energy shortage so I don’t believe on relying on air conditioning. I started researching vernacular traditional techniques to combat that kind of climate. In the old city in Multan the streets are very cool as they are built in a way to channel the wind and the houses are built in a certain way with higher roofs and ventilators to keep them cool; they use natural methods to cool hot climates. If we could learn from that and implement it in contemporary architecture, I think it would be very successful.”
"It is important to conserve these sites because this is what represents us. It is our culture. In order to represent ourselves on an international level we have to preserve these identities.”
Architects, art historians, engineers, fine artists, chemists, conservators, and ceramists make up the constellation of skilled young people working for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) on one of the largest restoration projects in Pakistan.
The 17th century Mughal-era Picture Wall in Lahore’s Walled City has been in a state of decay for over 100 years but thanks to the efforts of the Walled City of Lahore Authority, international donors and the infectious energy of this young team of conservators, the wall is being brought back from the brink.
The first phase of restoration of this UNESCO world heritage site - some 50 metres - was completed at the end of March 2019 and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The remaining 400 metres of this awe-inspiring structure will take a further decade.
This article was originally published on the Wilton Photography blog.