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 Shukoor house demonstrates the ingenuity of builders in the old city of Kabul, who in this case adapted the customary north-south orientation of inhabited rooms to a sloping site. The main east-facing reception room on the ground floor of the house retains a fine arched timber partition, behind which is a small room with intricate moulded plaster decoration and niches. There are fine views over the city from the north-facing room on the first floor, which gives on to the roof. The owner of the house approached AKTC in 2003 with a plan for the construction of a new wing of rooms in the courtyard, which was amended to allow for a more sympathetic extension, which was built at the same time as the conservation of the main house. The house was handed back to the owner in late 2005.