World Heritage Day Observed at
By Ar. Farida G
April 18, the World Heritage Day as declared by the UNESCO upon an initiative taken by International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), is observed every year through out the world to mark the importance of world's heritage and to draw the attention of masses and governments for the protection and preservation of heritage globally.
The Department of Architecture, NWFP UET at Abbottabad Campus also marked the distinction of April 18 by holding a Seminar on the issues related to the World's Heritage and role of Architects in safeguarding them. Many prominent professionals from various walks of life were invited for their deliberations on the subject at the Campus.
"Awareness about local heritage should be created using local languages", said by Professor Fidaullah Serahi who was speaking at the occasion as guest speaker. Being a renowned archeologist, Prof. Fidullah is famous for his knowledge and specialization in Gandhara Civilization of NWFP. He had served the Peshawar Museum as Director for 18 years. Sharing his experiences with the students and seminar participants, he said that archeologists are the students of history of architecture and not engineers. They only do excavation very carefully and explore the site engaging various professionals as the work proceeds. Highlighting the role of architects in exploring archeological sites, he said, "We need to hire architects to prepare site plans of the area and seek their help and guidance in conceiving the original form of dilapidated old monuments." Highlighting the importance of heritage site, he quoted an example of monument relocation of Abu Simbal and told the participants that how meticulously those monuments were documented by architects and were relocated due to a development scheme had been carried out in the area. "A worldwide lobbying was created to save Abu Simbal", he added.
Prof. Serahi also shared with the participants his published work on the heritage in NWFP and vowed the need of creating awareness among people though literature in local languages. He said that most of his papers were published in English newspapers which only touched the hearts of bureaucracy and not the public. Later on those papers were translated and published in local newspaper which served the purpose of creating awareness among general public at large.
Prof. Serahi said that Pakistan is blessed with many heritage assets. In Baluchistan we have Prehistoric archeology; Sindh has Indus Valley Civilization; Punjab is famous for Muslim period Architectural Monuments and NWFP is known for Gandhara Civilization. He urged the need of creating awareness among masses so that our Heritage could be preserved and protected well. Quoting examples from west, he said that in western countries school children are also taken to the museums and heritage sites to make them realized the importance of heritage. Heritage sites are widely publicized in electronic media to gain public and tourists' attention, whereas in Pakistan no such measures are taken at any large scale. He begged the need of creating sense of ownership and respect towards local heritage.
Highlighting the role of prevalent rules and regulation to protect and preserve heritage sites, he said that in past Antiquity act was not enforced efficiently and all antiques found here were sent to the museums all over the world. He informed the participants that now UNESCO has introduced a law under which all objects should go to the place of its origin. He questioned the implementation of this law and wondered how and when British Museum would return back the antiquities of Sub-Continent.
Earlier to Professor Fidaullah Serahi's deliberation, the coordinator NWFP Abbottabad Campus, Prof. Musarrat Hussain Shah welcomed the participants and guest speakers. In his welcome remarks, he appreciated the efforts of Abbottabad Campus for observing the World Heritage Day and engaging students at large. He conveyed the message and well wishes of the Vice Chancellor of NWFP UET who could not join in the program due to his some other commitments.
In his welcome address, Prof. Shah said that we must observe the heritage in our daily life and should pay attention to the conservation of forests, monuments; important buildings, indigenous culture and environment which all come under the domain of conserving heritage.
At the Seminar, the role and works of architects for heritage was highlighted by Ar. Qayyum Khan, a senior and renowned architect form Peshawar. According to him, "Heritage is a multidimensional process. It does not deal with the physical environment only but it also deals with our culture, living style, social and political conditions etc."
Having 40 years practice in architecture, he confessed that his early 3 decades' work had no value as he himself was not paying much attention to heritage in early days of his practice. However, he enjoys his work of past 10 years which responds to local heritage and social value.
He shared with the seminar participants the architectural study and analysis of the historical building of Islamia College, Peshawar. Under the patronage of Sahabzada Abdul Qayyum, the building was designed by Bhai Ram Singh in 2nd decade of last century. Admiring the brick details and techniques used in the building, Ar. Qayyum Khan highlighted various prominent features of the building including recessed arches, punched windows, defined entrances and balconies. He bet that the building was erected with the local expertise of skilled labor then. He said that the building was rich in all aspects; light and shade, environmental impact, variation in form and sensible use of material.
He criticized the later addition of buildings in the vicinity which had no regard of Islamia College architectural style and its architectural and historical significance. At this occasion he shared a very recent addition of Girls Hostel building in the same premises in which Ar. Qayyum has adopted the architectural vocabulary of Islamia College in contemporary manner. He said, "My architecture also reflects inspiration from this building." Creation of 'frame within frame' and use of brick-nuggets in new building by Ar. Qayyum Khan prominently reflected the architectural style of old building.
Followed by his presentation, Dr. Shakeel Qureshi shared his opinion about the wisdom of our heritage and the consequences of our broken relationship with it.
Dr. Shakeel Qureshi, Associate Professor at NCA, Lahore is also the Director for 'Centre of Cultural Heritage, Conservation and Management'.
Explaining how the developing countries were brain-washed for rejecting traditional values and adopting industrial methods of modern day, Dr. Shakeel Qureshi said that tradition was made synonymous to backwardness which changed the 'man to nature' relationship badly. He told the participants the advantages of traditional methods and disadvantages of contemporary practice. He said that we had rich heritage and culture but we disconnected our relationship with our heritage and it resulted in various problems. "In order to address those contemporary issues we can have wisdom from our heritage examples and learn the lesson from them", added by Prof. Qureshi.
"Heritage buildings were energy efficient, did not need air-conditioning; they were environment friendly with the use of local materials and indigenous techniques", explained Dr. Qureshi who also pointed out the negative aspects of modern building which are energy intensive, environment degrading with the use of imported and industrialized materials.
"Misconception of western world about finding solution in scientific development has destroyed the environment poorly", said by Dr. Qureshi who further told that western world is now realizing its consequences and returning back to heritage and old methods to restore man-nature relationship once again.
"To restore man-nature relationship we need to adopt sustainability which means to meet the needs of the present without compromising the abilities of future generation to meet their needs", said Dr. Shakeel Qureshi. Focusing Architecture, he said sustainability comes through 'Green Architecture'. He defined Green Architecture as reverting to heritage architecture - reviving those principles found in old practice. According to him historical buildings are the reservoirs of traditional wisdom.
He demonstrated a recent example of a house in Lahore designed by him to explain how old principles of making energy efficient house can be adopted in modern day situation. He urged the need of understanding the essence of the principles and not to copy the building forms and styles which do not conform today's needs.
He explained how he had achieved thermal comfort in his house using energy-efficient technology and creating spaces in such a manner that there were minimum possibilities of striking sun directly to habitable spaces. Maximum provision of green spaces around building and on its roofs also helped him in controlling thermal coefficient.
He told the seminar participants that the variation in temperature throughout the year is a surface phenomenon and as we move down the ground the difference in relative temperature reduces till it attains a constant value of 20 degree centigrade at approximately 3m below the ground. This scientific finding was greatly utilized by Dr. Qureshi in his design where he laid air channels 3 m below the ground and provided outlets in each room above the ground. Air passing through such channels regulates its temperature with the channel temperature and provides thermal comfort throughout the house. He told the participants that only one exhaust fan and one small chiller/ geyser was being used through out the year to cool down and heat up the entire house consisting of split levels.
All three presentations were followed up by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ali Arshad, Chairman Department of Architecture NWFP UET. At this occasion Mr. Ali Jan, MD Sarhad Tourism Corporation was exclusively invited to participate in the panel discussion.
It was informed that ICOMOS has declared the year 2008 as to reflect upon "Religious Heritage and Sacred Places".
At this occasion, Ar. Sameeta Ahmed, Associate Professor, announced the opening of Student Chapter of ICOMOS in Pakistan to engage students in developing a heritage conscious society. Students also displayed their work and ideas about heritage preservation in Pakistan, in general and Abbottabad, in particular.