"The Trust’s support to historic communities demonstrates how conservation and revitalization of the cultural heritage - in many cases the only asset at the disposal of the community - can provide a springboard for social development. We have also seen how such projects can have a positive impact well beyond conservation, promoting good governance, the growth of civil society, a rise in incomes and economic opportunities, greater respect for human rights and better stewardship of the environment."
- His Highness the Aga Khan
Since 2007, Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative has worked towards adopting a craft based approach towards conservation, employing hundreds of craftsmen using traditional tools, materials and building techniques to revive the intention of the original builders.
The project has coupled conservation with socio-economic initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life for resident communities through simultaneous action in socio-economic development. Furthermore, upgrading available urban infrastructure, landscaping open parks, major street improvement, housing improvement, building community toilets coupled with heritage and environmental awareness programmes to help meeting project objectives and UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
An urban conservation approach adopted by the project in keeping with Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme initiatives worldwide has led to landscaping over a 100 acres abutting the world heritage site as well as restoring over 30 Mughal era monuments that stand within the project area.
The project thus serves as a model for Culture based development of India’s historic city centers.
The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme projects promote the conservation and re-use of buildings and public spaces in historic cities in ways that can spur social, economic and cultural development. Conservation works being undertaken on the monuments in this area are in adherence with the established Indian and international conservation philosophy and principles. While conservation works aim to recover the architectural integrity of the monuments, authenticity of design, form and material is stringently maintained.Click here to download flier
The Humayun’s Tomb-Nizamuddin area is the densest ensemble of medieval Islamic buildings in India, inhabited by a vibrant local community with 700 years of living culture. The area is being visited by millions of tourists and pilgrims each year.
Conservation works being undertaken on the monuments in this area have been in adherence with the established Indian and international conservation philosophy and principles. While conservation works aim to recover the architectural integrity of the monuments, authenticity of design, form and material is stringently maintained.
All conservation work is preceded by archival research, high definition surveys, structural assessments and peer review.
The project also aims to revive a craft based approach to conservation, set up a model conservation process and standards for documentation.
At the onset of the project, it is essential to establish the need for the conservation or landscape restoration works to be undertaken on a site or on a monument which would ensure its long term preservation, enhance its visitor understanding and experience of the site and revive its cultural heritage. This is followed by a detailed documentation of the site and structure by the team of architects, draughtsman and surveyors.
Documentation is an essential prerequisite prior to any conservation as it aids in understanding the nature of the fabric of a monument and its value as well as its current condition that is to be used as a basis for preparing its Conservation Plan. Before the onset of any conservation project, AKTC team undertakes exhaustive documentation and research exercise to understand both the site and its associated cultural legacy.
Prior to outlining the conservation philosophy, it is essential to define the significance of the site. Understanding of a site’s significance is important to be able to map out the appropriate conservation measures. Conservation measures then aim to ensure that the significance is retained or even enhanced by restoring authenticity of material and integrity of the site by repairing any architectural elements that require conservation.
The conservation works are preceded by high standards of recording to be undertaken are focused on restoring the ‘spirit and feeling’ of the space with an emphasis on craftsmanship, interpretation and supervision. A close analysis of the site and building informs the conservation philosophy for the restoration works leaving nothing to doubt or conjecture.
Every conservation effort should be supported by independent peer reviews. Evaluation of the importance of the work and the decision as to what may be destroyed cannot rest solely on those in charge of the work. The project team has ensured that the conservation works are on a regular basis reviewed by independent experts in addition to ASI Core Committee and AKTC officials.
The writing of Conservation Plan marks the completion of the preliminary phase of conservation, formally records the conservation philosophy and the process and listed individual conservation actions on the site/structure. This allows for independent peer review of the conservation objectives and approvals of the ASI at the onset. Expert advice, institutional approvals and donor funding is also subsequently based on the Conservation Plan.
Conservation works should commence only on the basis of adequate financial resources being available for the successful implementation of the project. In order to ensure quality of craftsmen, no conservation works on the Nizamuddin Monuments were tendered – all works being were carried out by master-craftsmen employed by the project. Similarly, traditional materials – sandstone & lime – were procured and prepared with quality assurance.
The conservation plan also re-emphasized the need for high levels of supervision as explicitly required as per the ASI Conservation Manual. Thus not only were works supervised on a full-time basis by trained and experienced conservation architects, engineers and archaeologists from both ASI and AKTC, but regular reviews were also carried out by a core committee comprising of senior member of the ASI leadership.
With the understanding that conservation works require a multi-disciplinary team, the Burra Charter guides, “Conservation should make use of all the knowledge, skills and discipline which can contribute to the study and care of the place.” The multi-disciplinary team employed in the project comprised conservation architects, structural and civil engineers, master craftsmen, historians, geologists, architects, craftsmen, designers, draftsmen, archaeologists, project and heritage management experts, archivists, photographers, draftsmen, material scientists, conservators.
Monthly progress reports are prepared for each monument and site for record and donor reporting. As an ideal practice, on the completion of the project, an exhibition presenting the conservation project undertaken or a publication on the project is published. In addition, the annual reports of Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative also document works carried out each year. The Conservation Plans will be available on the website and thus accessible worldwide.
Located in the heart of New Delhi, the Nizamuddin Conservation Area comprises the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb and its surrounding areas of Sunder Nursery, Batashewala Complex and Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative has since its inception in 2007 worked towards adopting a craft based approach towards conservation, employing hundreds of craftsmen using traditional tools, materials and building techniques to revive the intention of the original builders.