The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) conducts a number of programmes, including the Historic Cities Support Programme, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and the Education and Culture Programme. The Historic Cities Support Programme (HCSP) was established in 1992 to actively promote the conservation and re-use of buildings and public spaces in historic cities in the Islamic world. Its objective is to undertake the restoration and rehabilitation of historic structures and public spaces in ways that can spur social, economic and cultural development. Individual project briefs thus go beyond mere technical restoration to address the questions of social and environmental context, adaptive reuse, community participation, institutional sustainability and training. In several countries, local Aga Khan Cultural Service Companies have been formed to implement projects under the supervision of the HCSP headquarters in Geneva.
To date, the Historic Cities Support Programme has pursued revitalisation projects in six quite different settings in the Islamic world, i.e., the Northern Areas of Pakistan, Zanzibar, Samarkand, Cairo, Mostar (Bosnia) and Syria, including nearly twenty distinct but interconnected projects which often are mutually reinforcing. Initial involvement
in a single project in a particular location or region has the potential 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.