Consistent with the area development approach AKTC has employed in other cities, including the Historic City of Cairo, AKTC also worked to improve the area around the citadel of Aleppo. The Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) programme administered loans in several programme areas.
In many places around the world, it is thought that imaginative reconstructions of missing parts increased the appeal of the buildings to visitors. This, however, threatens the authenticity of historic sites.
In the Trust’s projects, reconstruction of missing elements was replaced by proper documentation, consolidation and conservation of existing features. Some exceptions were made in cases where clear evidence existed, matching materials and techniques were available, and structural benefits could be derived from reconstruction. Instead, “virtual” reconstruction by three-dimensional models or computer simulations will be offered to visitors, whenever archaeological and historical research provides sufficient information, as part of the specially designed presentations within or near the site. A central objective of the projects is to create an example of conservation work carried out to modern international standards, in all phases of the conservation process that can be used as a benchmark and a reference point for future work by the Directorate of Antiquities and other agencies.
Developing Local Capacity
In all project locations, community participation, training of local professionals and local institution-building are essential components of AKTC’s activities. The objective was to train staff members of the Directorate of Antiquities, local craftsmen and building professionals in modern conservation practice, whilst carrying out conservation work, so that high standards of conservation can be replicated at other sites. Training was provided by experts in the field of conservation both on site and through workshops and seminars.
Sustaining Cultural Heritage
Building a sustainable future for cultural heritage sites in which AKTC has invested is an important aspect of any project. In Syria, AKTC worked closely with the Directorate of Antiquities to develop management plans for the Citadel sites, including promotion of financial self-sustainability.