July 1, 2007
by Canadian Architect
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) joined the Government of the Punjab and the World Bank today in support of a project for the regeneration, renewal, and conservation of Lahores Walled City.
This remarkable project should be seen as a catalyst for overall development. In our experience, projects like this one have had a positive impact well beyond conservation, both in other parts of Pakistan, where we have been working since the 1980s, and in environments as varied as Afghanistan, Mali and Egypt, said Luis Monreal, General Manager of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. We do not intend to pursue a mode of rehabilitation that focuses only on the buildings, but rather we want to help renew a city with the full engagement of the inhabitants and through a process in which improving the quality of life is a central part of the revitalization process, he added.
Speaking in Lahore at the ceremony marking the start of AKTCs involvement in the project, Monreal said the agency hoped the project would become a model for the urban regeneration of historic cities in the Punjab.
The program has been launched by the Government of the Punjab with the assistance of the World Bank. In June 2006, the World Bank released funding for the current Punjab Municipal Services Improvement Project being undertaken by the Government of Punjab, including a significant Cultural Heritage Component. This program represents an unusual opportunity to apply the best practices of urban regeneration and conservation planning in the context of historic cities in Punjab, starting with the Lahore Walled City project as a base case. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture will be joining this initiative as a strategic partner.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the cultural agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), has been involved in numerous restoration projects in Pakistan since the early 1980s. Among many other efforts, it restored the Baltit Fort in Karimabad, the Northern Areas of Pakistan. In 1999, the Trust extended its activities to Baltistan by undertaking conservation and physical/ socioeconomic development initiatives in the Skardu district, in Shigar and Khaplu, where monuments with tourism potential have been restored for adaptive re-use as part of a package of local economic regeneration. The Trusts Historic Cities Program has undertaken projects which provide for area-wide urban and economic regeneration in historic cities through area development projects and has been able to demonstrate the significant development potential of the cultural assets of historic districts when linked to integrated economic, social, and environmental redevelopment initiatives.
The Program undertakes projects involving urban regeneration, conservation, and physical and social revitalization of communities in historic cities and settlements in developing countries. It operates in tandem, where appropriate, with other AKDN agencies such as the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) in an integrated manner to bring the required expertise to multi-sector, urban area development projects.
The Trust also held its first Award for Architecture Ceremony in the Shalimar Gardens, in Lahore, in 1980, in recognition of the historic status of the city and its numerous landmark sites.