04.10.2017 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

Experts meet in Aleppo to discuss traditional building materials and techniques

On 10 and 11 August 2017, UNESCO organized a meeting on traditional building materials and techniques in Aleppo with the aim to estimate, based on available damage assessments and analyses, the needs of the World Heritage site of the Ancient City of Aleppo in terms of traditional building materials and techniques and to take stock of the remaining craftsmen. The meeting, which took place in the framework of the “Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian cultural Heritage” project, also aimed at setting the bases for a vocational school on traditional building crafts and skills in Aleppo that UNESCO could fund in the near future. The initiative gathered 30 relevant stakeholders from governmental institutions, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, local and international experts, as well as 14 traditional craftsmen from the local community.

The opening session was attended by decision-makers as well as technical officials such as the Governor of Aleppo, its Mayor, the Director General of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museum (DGAM), etc. The session featured presentations by experts from different institutions including the DGAM, the Heritage Committee from a Syndicate of Engineers, the Old City Directorate of the Aleppo City Council, the University of Aleppo, Al-Adiyyat Archaeological Society, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and UNESCO. As a side event, traditional building materials and tools provided by the present craftsmen were exhibited throughout the meeting. \

The participants formed three working groups to discuss the priorities and future needs concerning traditional building materials, traditional building techniques, and traditional building craftsmanship, which was followed by a presentation and a discussion of each group’s findings. They ended with the adoption of the following recommendations:

• There is a need to undertake a detailed study to estimate availability of materials and craftsmen, costs, existing similar initiatives, etc.;

• The local authorities have a crucial role to play in terms of facilitating logistical, legal and administrative issues;

• The concerned local communities will be involved in the decision-making process and implementation of any related activity;

• The updating of database of materials, crafts, skills, craftsmen;

• The involvement of youth, students and woman is fundamentals;

• Training curricula should include theory, work in the workshops of master craftsmen and work on site;

• The importance of studying and adopting adequate remuneration (fees, microcredits) modalities to encourage participation and sustainability;

• Selection processes for trainees and trainers will be scientifically studied and defined;

• There is a need to establish a centre/school for traditional building craftsmanship;

• The importance of the involvement of different stakeholders;

• The continuation of UNESCO’s scientific, technical and financial support.

The “Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage” project, a pioneering initiative funded by the European Union with the support of the Flemish Government and Austria in partnership with ICCROM and ICOMOS. The project focuses on building technical capacities of Syrian experts and institutions and strengthening local, regional and international coordination to develop efficient responses.

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