19.08.2017 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

Technical meeting on traditional building materials in Aleppo

From 10-11 August, UNESCO organized, together with the International Council of Monuments and Monuments (ICOMOS) and the International Center for the Study of the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), a technical meeting on traditional building materials in Aleppo. This activity falls within within the framework of the European Union Project entitled: Urgent Conservation of Syrian Cultural Heritage Project, supported by both the Flemish and Austrian Governments.

The objective of the meeting was to review and analyze the current state of Aleppo's old buildings in order to define the engineering works (building materials and traditional building codes) required for their reinforcement and restoration as well as to identify the issues and barriers to future restoration works. The meeting also aimed to enhance partnership with all relevant governmental institutions, the private sector and local engineers and expertise, as well as a selection of traditional professionals from the community working on the field. Participants from the province of Aleppo, Aleppo’s City Council, the Old City Directorate, the Tourism Directorate, the Directorate of endowments, the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums, Aga Khan Foundation for Culture, the Engineers Syndicate - Heritage Committee and the Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Tourism attended this meeting. Participants achieved a better understanding of the requirements of the old city of Aleppo in the field of traditional building materials and crafts, needed for the work of consolidation and restoration and found solutions to provide the necessary supplies of traditional building materials. Participants were also able to prepare technical frames to ensure the implementation of works according to international standards in the field of restoration, without neglecting the importance and specificity of the ancient city of Aleppo as a world heritage site. During the first day of the meeting, participants presented a number of professional technical presentations on the status of the archaeological buildings in the old city of Aleppo and shared practical experiences on current restoration cases. They also discussed the challenges facing the work in the field of building materials and traditional crafts. On the second day, the participants discussed in detail the three main topics of the meeting: traditional building materials, traditional building codes and traditional building tools and, which resulted in a number of necessary determinants that included a set of important definitions, the identification of problems and gaps, the proposed solutions and the adoption of final recommendations in this regard. The final recommendations focused on the need for a detailed study to assess the availability of materials, artisans, existing costs and initiatives, etc., and stressed that local authorities have a crucial role to play in facilitating matters such as legal and administrative procedures. The communities concerned will also participate in the decision-making process and carry out any relevant activity. Participants also highlighted the importance of updating the database of materials, handcrafts, skills and crafts and that participation of the youth and women was essential. Training courses should include theoretical matters, as well as work in key artisan workshops and on-site work, and the importance of studying and adopting adequate wages (fees, microcredit) as a means of promoting participation and sustainability. The selection of trainees and trainers will be studied and defined scientifically. The majority of the participants agreed that there was a need for participation of various partners in the project and that the establishment of a center / school for traditional building codes was not essential. Finally, the importance of continued scientific, technical and financial support provided by UNESCO to the Old City of Aleppo was emphasized. The meeting was followed by an exhibition of the works of the professionals participating in the meeting (works of wood and stone details), in addition to paintings and wood-paintings, stained glass and traditional colored tiles.




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