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 video outlines the painstaking steps taken to restore the Shah Burj Gate in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lahore Fort, in Pakistan. The Gate, which forms part of the famous Picture Wall, was constructed by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1041 A.H. (1631-32) under the supervision of architect Abdul Karim Mamur Khan.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) began the restoration of the Shah Burj Gate in June 2019, focusing on consolidating and enhancing the Kashikari work and the iconic Muqarnas located inside the deep-vaulted gateway. After the completion of a detailed documentation of existing conditions, the gate’s entire surface was cleaned. Restoration activities were prioritised to address issues such as structural consolidation, detachment of tile mosaics and loss of glaze. The work was completed in March 2020 by AKTC with the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Walled City of Lahore Authority.