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  • Maryam Rabi, 31 - “Good conservation efforts do not take place in isolation. They not only involve individual historic buildings, monuments and landmarks, but also their immediate surroundings, and especially the communities that experience them on a day-to-day basis. They increase tourism and contribute to the economic wellbeing of societies. Pakistan has a wealth of historic structures that are underutilised and in dire need of rehabilitation. Only through their restoration and adaptive reuse can they be reintegrated into the urban fabric of the country.”
    AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer
Maryam Rabi: Conservation architect for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Maryam studied Architecture at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, thereafter gaining a masters in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University in New York. Now she works as a conservation architect for AKTC. Day-to-day Maryam spends her time documenting individual monuments as well as the surrounding urban areas using Electronic Distance Measurement devices and orthorectification technologies, supervising projects, and putting together documents describing conservation processes. She is currently working on a high-quality publication about the work of AKTC in Lahore which is expected available for purchase by the end of 2019.

Maryam was always drawn to historic environments and the manner in which they transform over time. Observing the deterioration of historical monuments in Pakistan motivated her to pursue a career in conservation and safeguard what remains of the country’s shared identity.

“Good conservation efforts do not take place in isolation. They not only involve individual historic buildings, monuments and landmarks, but also their immediate surroundings, and especially the communities that experience them on a day-to-day basis. They increase tourism and contribute to the economic wellbeing of societies. Pakistan has a wealth of historic structures that are underutilised and in dire need of rehabilitation. Only through their restoration and adaptive reuse can they be reintegrated into the urban fabric of the country.”

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.