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 house of Mohammed Amin was identified during surveys by AKTC/HCSP in 2002 and 2003 of the surviving historic fabric of the Asheqan wa Arefan neighbourhood in the old city of Kabul. Probably dating from the 1930s, the Amin house follows the characteristic form of family homes in the old city, and is arranged on three sides of an open courtyard, with a half-basement and two inhabited floors. The primary structure is of timber frame (sinj) with an infill of mud bricks, supporting flat timber rafters for floors and roofs. While external elevations are blind, three of the internal elevations are made up of hardwood screens (patai), made up of a series of vertical sliding windows, that allow for summer ventilation. The present owners of the Amin house are descendants of the carpenter who built it. Conservation of the house was carried out during 2004/5 as part of a wider programme of works undertaken by AKTC/HCSP in the old city.