Breathing new life into the legacy of past civilisations calls for a creativity, imagination, tolerance, understanding, and wisdom well beyond the ordinary. The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (AKHCP), established in 1992, implements conservation, urban revitalization and area development projects in historically significant sites of the Islamic world undertaking the restoration and rehabilitation of historic structures and public spaces in ways that spur social, economic and cultural development. Its projects seek to mobilize local potential and resources in order to ensure their eventual self-sustainability through operational income, human resource development and institutional management capabilities. Through this integrated approach, the Programme seeks to demonstrate that strengthening cultural identity can go hand in hand with socio-economic progress.
Going beyond mere restoration of monuments, the Programme engages in activities related to adaptive re-use, contextual urban planning and the improvement of housing, infrastructure and public spaces. It carries out related socio-economic development initiatives directed at upgrading local living conditions and improving quality of life.
Investments in single project locations or regions are coordinated with other Aga Khan Development Network programmes so that they reinforce each other as they grow together into a critical mass for positive change. In all project locations, community participation and training of local professionals are essential components.
The Shahi Hammam was built in 1045 AH (1635 CE) by
Hakim Ilmuddin Wazir Khan, Governor of Lahore, as part of an endowment which
included the Wazir Khan Mosque. Historically, the Hammam fell into disuse
probably in the 18th century during the decline and fall of the Mughal empire
and the chaos that followed. From the early British period onwards the Hammam
building has been used for many different purposes other than its intended one
- as a primary school, dispensary, and recreational centre as well as an office
for the local municipality. Additional shops were allowed along the length of
the building’s northern, western and southern façades.
In 2013, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture undertook the conservation
of the Shahi Hammam. The Hammam has undergone two earlier conservation
cycles: in 1991, when the magnificent wall paintings were re-discovered, and in
2005. By removing the marble floors laid in 1991, the secrets of the Hammam
have been revealed for the first time during the present conservation cycle. These
include the original system for heating the building as well as the water for
bathing, the manner in which the water was circulated in the building, and the
traditional manner of the use of the building. The project has also involved
the consolidation of the building's structure and the removal of risks of
further damage. Prior to the commencement of conservation work, WCLA
facilitated the removal of encroachments around the Hammam and all 52 shops
were removed with compensation. The hammam’s northern façade was also
consolidated and a retaining wall was constructed.
This video highlights the importance of bath-houses and presents the process of conservation of the Shahi Hammam.