In 1981, the Lahore Fort precinct and its 21 surviving monuments were inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Surrounded by an inner fortification wall encircling approximately 19.5 hectares of royal structures and formal gardens, the Fort was largely built and developed in its current configuration between 1556 and 1707 by four Mughal emperors – Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb – after which it was extensively modified during the Sikh and British periods.
The Lahore Fort Picture Wall is one of the principal features of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is about 460 meters (1,510 feet) long, with an average height of 16 meters (50 feet) and forms the northern and western façade of the Lahore Fort. Together with the Shah Burj Gate (Hathi Pol), the Picture Wall forms the original entrance to the Fort. Built approximately 400 years ago; it is among some of the most exquisite features of the Lahore Fort and is one of the largest murals in the world. Parts of the wall are extensively embellished in cut brickwork, cut glazed tile mosaic work, filigree work and painted lime plaster. The wall consists of an array of exquisitely decorated recessed panels, and the eaves and brackets of pavilions and other roof top structures are carved in sandstone and marble-work inlaid with semi-precious stones.
Starting in September 2015, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and its country affiliate, the Aga Khan Cultural Service-Pakistan, under a number of partnership agreements with the Walled City of Lahore Authority, has been engaged in the conservation of the Lahore Fort. Detailed studies on the Lahore Fort and an extensive documentation of the Picture Wall were generously supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, and involved using a 3-D laser scanner and Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) devices, as well as high-resolution ortho-rectified photography coupled together.
After the completion of detailed documentation, a technical review of the challenges pertaining to the conservation of various decorative elements led to the selection of a 10 meter wide and 15 meter high section of the western façade of the wall for prototype conservation, which was to inform the Picture Wall’s conservation principles and methodologies. This commenced in late November 2016 and culminated in an International Workshop held at the Lahore Fort in January 2018.
The Masterplan for Lahore Fort (2017-Present). In Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 210-371. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
Khan, Masood. “Lahore Fort: History Context, the Monumental Area and its Buffer Zone.” Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 213-234. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
Lahore Fort had existed for centuries before Muslim invaders arrived from Central Asia at the end of the tenth century. But the Fort was successively added to, enriched, and transformed by four Mughal emperors. These successive transformations have, in the past, been conveniently classified and attributed to discrete zones of the Fort as the legacy of one or the other of the four emperors. Their respective contributions are generally additive in nature, moving from the east to the west.
Siravo, Francesco. “The 2018 Master Plan for the Conservation of Lahore Fort.” Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 235-250. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
Prepared in 2018 as a joint AKTC and the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) initiative, it presents a new vision for the conservation and rehabilitation of the Lahore Fort World Heritage Site in the context of the significant financial investments to be made over the next several years. While presenting a prioritized program of investment and interventions, the 2018 Master Plan aims to establish an acceptable system for the presentation of the Fort and its immediate buffer zone, together with new policies for its management.
Repellin, Didier. “Review and Analyses of Conditions.” Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 251-270. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
The scale of the composition of the Fort involves self-contained spaces but some of the walls that separated the different courtyards are missing. Understanding the Hydraulic Systems is key to assess how it is supplied, drained, and used for comfort and pleasure. Following an Assessment of Significance of the Fort, this section provides a preliminary description of the main cases and causes of dilapidation found in the monumental area. The most common and widely observed type of deterioration is caused by rainwater ingress in building structures. Exposure of poorly insulated structures to heavy rainfall is aggravated by faulty rainwater drainage.
Bouleau, Christophe. “Conservation Actions: Approach, Principles and Priorities.” Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 271-284. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
After the description of the international norms that apply to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and examine the conservation principles relevant to the site, follows an indication of the conservation techniques that will probably be applied widely in Lahore Fort in relation to its principal dilapidation issues. These are further distinguished into immediate, medium-term, and long-term actions. In addition to implementing activities to preserve Lahore Fort, a series of other site presentation actions aim at re-establishing missing components and details that have been lost or modified over time in order to reinforce a presentation of the Fort more in line with its original configuration.
Wain, Anthony, and François Du Plessis. “Overhauling the Drainage System and Re-establishing the Historic Landscape.” Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 285-294. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
The evaluation of Lahore Fort’s drainage system focuses on the most relevant systemic issue such as surface drainage affecting the entire monumental area, followed by a program for the general improvement of drainage conditions in the Fort. Drainage is inextricably linked to the re-establishment of the historic landscape, which is as important as restoring the buildings. Many elements of the Mughal gardens still exist, particularly the architectural and landscape compositions, but the primary vegetal components are largely missing.
Khan Shahbaz, Nadhra. “The Picture Wall’s Iconography and Aesthetic Analysis.” Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 295-310. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
The Picture Wall has been adorned with panels of tile-mosaics dating back to two Mughal Emperors: Jahangir (r. 1605–27) and Shah Jahan’s (1628–58). The panels on these two walls are reminiscent of not only Mughal but also Persian miniature paintings and offer glimpses of everyday events at the Mughal court while others carry images of various types of winged creatures that appear to represent esoteric meanings and messages.
Bouleau, Christophe, Werner Matthias Schmid, and Zeina Naseer. “Conservation of the Picture Wall”. Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 311-324. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
In 2017, the current conservation intervention on the Picture Wall stands as a pioneering intervention as long periods of abandonment, improper use and neglect were followed by few conservation efforts. After exposing the principles and the methodological framework applicable, this section stresses that the most urgent priority was to mitigate sources of rainwater ingress infiltrating the brickwork structure and the decorative program, calling for a strategy to introduce modern conservation practice and focus on pre serving and protecting the remains of original surfaces in their material authenticity via heritage crafts technicians and a young team, the first generation of Pakistani conservators specializing in this field.
Makhdum, Rashid, and Shukurullah Baig.“Adaptive Reuse of the Imperial Kitchens”. Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 325-332. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
The Imperial Kitchens, with covered area of some 970 square meters and an enclosed courtyard located in the south-western quarter of the Fort, served the needs of the royal palace during the Mughal and the Sikh periods. Due to its isolated location, it this area of fell into increasing neglect. The WCLA was interested to save the building by conserving the historic structure and to convert it into a night-time dining facility as part of the general policy to extend the visitor experience. The conservation work was completed in the spring of 2019.
Siravo, Francesco. “Site Visits and Museums”. Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 333-344. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
The three existing museum buildings currently located in Lahore Fort are the Mughal Gallery, the Armory Museum and the Sikh Gallery are affected by water penetration through the roof and walls and deterioration of the artefacts displayed. This section presents proposals for two distinct Visitor Routes: a “Public Walkway” open to the larger public and a “Museological” Itinerary. It also discusses Museum development options, presenting three possible levels of intervention.
Rashti, Cameron, and Jurjen Van der Tas. “Recommendations on Operations and Management”. Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 345-352. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
This section presents a proposal to develop a comprehensive operations and management plan for Lahore Fort in alignment with a program of conservation projects, improvements to visitor amenities, a site curatorial system and ongoing maintenance. Requiring a joint public-private technical oversight that would ensure operations and management of the general heritage site, and its education, communication, staff training and capacity building.
Siravo, Francesco, and Rashid Makhdum. “Proposed Action Areas and Plans for the Buffer Zone”. Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 353-362. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
The enhancement of Lahore Fort responds to the main areas of the Fort surrounding that are at present severely undermined by disorderly commercial transformation on formerly unbuilt public land, unregulated vehicular traffic, pollution, and environmental degradation. The buffer area surrounding the Fort has been organized for planning into three action areas: the action area 1, close to Akbari Gate requires the relocation of Rim Market and the wholesale shoe manufacturers and vendors access point and the two areas to the south, respectively Ali Park in the south-east sector (Action Area 2), and the “Triangle” and adjacent traditional neighbourhoods in the south-west sector (Action Area 3).
Van der Tas, Jurjen, and Fatimah Khan. “Planning for Socio-Economic Development in the Action Areas.” Lahore: A Framework for Urban Conservation, edited by Philip Jodidio, 363-371. Munich: Prestel, 2019.
The current social and economic living and working conditions in the Buffer Zone have undergone major changes over the past fifty years. In 2018, a household and business survey were carried out and confirmed that these areas are considered underprivileged in terms of available municipal services. This survey focused on residents and the average number of households per land parcel and it also included a target on businesses activities mainly related to the supply chain of footwear. Studies on infrastructure and traffic conditions supplemented this survey.