Dr. Sami Angawi has a Doctor of Philosophy in Islamic Architecture from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK. Since 1988 he has been the Founder and General Director of the Amar Center for Architectural Heritage in charge of supervising all activities in areas of architectural designs, planning, conservation and development of architectural heritage, documentation of traditional architecture and analyzing its elements, research work in the fields of restoration of traditional architectural heritage and its relation to environmental and socio-economic factors, traditional arts and crafts.
The Amar Center for Architectural Heritage is a private organization located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The activities of this Center include the following:
Revival and development of traditional architecture through research and studies. Restoration and rehabilitation of traditional buildings and houses. Designing new buildings and projects based on the continuity of the traditional line of architecture from all aspects.
To carry out these activities the Center has developed architectural library containing more than 50,000 images of traditional architectural elements and buildings stored in the computer using the laser disc technology, as well as a library of architectural drawings of many elements with varying designs and styles. The Center has close contact and collaborates with various universities, research institutions and professional organizations on both local and international levels.
AMAR, essentially an architects' office, was set up by a group of Saudis, with the aim of stimulating interest in the Saudi architectural heritage by means of restoration and development in the Old Balad part of Jeddah. The group consider their main challenges: as lack of information, research and reference materials relating to appropriate conservation techniques; scarcity of craftsmen specialised in traditional crafts; and an apparent gap between traditional craftsmen and construction professionals. The now-restored five-storey building concerned here serves the dual purpose of offering comfortable work conditions whilst exhibiting what be achieved in restoration, blending past with present.
Existing features have been maintaned throughout, though some internal walls appear to have been removed. Air-conditioning and modern services were installed to ensure the level of comfort associated with the contemporary office environment. An exhibition space and the computer room form part of AMAR activity in gathering and making available information concerning Saudi architectural heritage, in particular, and Muslim culture in general.