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.
Following clearance of surviving building materials and rubble from the ruins of the war-damaged Goldasta mosque in the Tandoorsazi quarter of the old city of Kabul, the entire structure was documented in detail (drawn and photographs). The first stage of the conservation work entailed removal of unstable parts of brick masonry walling, followed by essential repairs to damaged sections, some of which were re-built with fired bricks. At this stage, detached sections of decorated gypsum plaster were removed from the internal face of walls, before being documented and stored.
A double timber wall-plate was then fixed to along the top of all structural walls, before roof beams were (re)-laid and fixed in place, to mitigate against failure in the event of seismic activity. Timber boards were then laid across these beams, before a traditional layer of mud/ straw was laid over the roof, finished with a water-resistant layer of clayey soil.
The timber colonnade on the east side of the mosque was subsequently dismantled, stone masonry footings re-built and rotten sections of the timber sole-plate replaced. The colonnade was then levelled and reinstated on its distinctive set of marble column bases. Timber boarding (some of which was retrieved from the original structure) was fixed to the ceilings of the winter and summer prayer areas. Work continues on cleaning and repairing the intricate plaster decoration in both parts of the mosque.