Many fine homes in the old quarter of Kabul were destroyed during inter-factional fighting between 1992 and 1994. The Wasay House, which is thought to date from the mid nineteenth century, is one of the few surviving homes to retain fine timber and plaster decoration that was characteristic of traditional homes in the densely-populated quarter of Asheqan wa Arefan. It is owned by a family who have lived in it for generations.
Historic photographs of the dwelling enabled the project team to ascertain the original decorative scheme, on which basis war-damaged parts of the internal moulded plaster decoration – including a series of recessed niches or chinikhana used for the display of porcelain – and timber screens within the main space on the first floor were restored.
The building, which was close to collapse when the works began, has served both as a demonstration of repair, conservation and infill techniques to other homeowners, as well as a test-bed for training of craftsmen and young professionals. Wasay house is one of 12 private homes in the old city of Kabul which have undergone full scale restoration carried out by the Aga Khan HIstoric Cities Programme (HCP) since 2003. It has been registered as a protected site with the Department of Historic Monuments and is presently used as a site office and information centre for HCPs rehabilitation programme in the old city.