Architect, conservationist and director of Old City of Jerusalem Revitalisation Programme, Shadia Touqan graduated with a Baccalaureate degree in
Architecture in 1969 from Cairo University. She obtained a Masters in Urban Design
from Manchester University in 1981, and
attained a PhD in Urban Development and Planning from Development Planning Unit/ Bartlett School of Architecture
from the University of London in 1995. She worked as an architect on a number
of projects in the UK, Jordan, UAE, other Arab countries and is an expert on
urban development of Palestinian towns.
Shadia is the Chief Technical Advisor for USESCO in Yemen,
Director of the Old City of Jerusalem Revitalization plan since November 1997,
and is an expert on cultural heritage preservation and revitalization of
historic cities with a number of international
organizations such as the World Bank and UNESCO. She has not only published a
number of papers and articles on the subject of preservation of cultural heritage. She won the prestigious Aga Khan
Award for Architecture for her work in Jerusalem in 2004.
The "third jewel" in al-Haram al-Sharif, this Mamluk structure underwent a first phase of restoration in 2001 to house the Al-Aqsa Center for the Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts and a rare manuscript collection.
A Fund in Trust agreement was signed with UNESCO for the training of staff and purchase of the specialized equipment needed for the establishment of a restoration laboratory, to be arranged by UNESCO. Five Palestinian technicians were trained in Italy in restoration techniques over three years; UNESCO funded the first two years of the course while WA funded their third year, completed in 2002. The roof rehabilitation, including the delicate restoration of the original Mamluk tiles, was completed in 2003. After two years of delay due to the prevailing political conditions, the first stage of restoration of the main halls was completed in 2004, including special tiling design and wooden partitions. A complete mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning system was installed to ensure environmental control for this delicate work. The Al-Aqsa Center for the Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts started functioning in 2008.
Source: Old City of Jerusalem Revitalisation Programme website