Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme - Conservation and Development in Hunza and Baltistan
To become productive and socially acceptable, conservation must therefore be made an integral part of development, and vice-versa. This deceptively simple statement is at the very heart of the philosophy of the Historic Cities Support Programme and has guided all its interventions since 1992. The restoration of Baltit Fort as a renewed symbol of cultural identity and civic pride served as the springboard for these efforts. It not only brought employment to the area but also helped revive meaningful traditional building techniques which are now being replicated by people in the rehabilitation of their own houses. Saving the old village of Baltit, beneath the Fort, from being abandoned in favour of scattered and unsuitable modern construction in the precious fields and terraced orchards around the village was the next important step. Moving out the cattle from the houses, paving the streets and providing proper sanitation to each house was a negotiated collective rehabilitation effort which directly engaged the local community in terms of both thinking processes and using their own hands. Eventually, the project became a living demonstration of the fact that old cultural traditions and modern technical resources need not be incompatible.