05.09.2013 - UNESCO Office in Tashkent

Kheili Kheili! Protecting our heritage

©UNESCO,Kheili Kheili!! Protecting our heritage

Ona Vileikis (RLICC, University of Leuven) and Sanjarbek Allayarov (UNESCO Office in Tashkent)

UNESCO promotes culture in development and is convinced that no development can be sustainable without culture. Historic monuments and museums, traditional handicrafts, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue complement our life in countless way. Culture takes rightful place in development strategies and processes globally.

Continuing with the origins of the Silk Roads as a network of exchange, from June to August 2013, international and local students experienced living in the World Heritage city of Bukhara while undertaking their internship at the Culture Unit of the UNESCO office in Tashkent. This initiative was supported by the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation – University of Leuven, Institute of Archaeology - University College London, Tashkent State Institute of Architecture and Construction, Board of Monuments of the Republic of Uzbekistan and local stakeholders.

The Great Silk Road for more than two millennia, from the 2nd century BC to the 16th century, was a path of integration, exchange and dialogue between East and West. A large number of monuments and sites are still represented with their outstanding values and attributes making them exceptional examples in architecture, urban design, religious interaction and intangible associations among others. Currently, Uzbekistan counts with four World Heritage properties being one of them the Historic Centre of Bukhara, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993. Moreover, Uzbekistan together with Tajikistan has recently submitted, in January 2013, a serial transnational nomination of the Silk Roads: Penjikent-Samarkand-Poykent Corridor.

The status of World Heritage is of great importance bringing international recognition as well as fostering local community pride and social cohesion. To preserve its historic values for young and future generations, proper planning and development should take place to promote the city with international standards for visitors and residents. Properly managed World Heritage cities could bring economic development and regeneration. Today, all monuments and sites are under the State protection. However, there is still a need to develop a proper management mechanism for the Historic Centre of Bukhara so as to protect its outstanding universal value.

For the preparation of the Management Plan for the Historic Centre of Bukhara, baseline information is still required. From 2008 to 2013, summer field surveys within the boundaries of the Historic Centre of Bukhara were carried out. Doors of breathtaking traditional houses were opened to students to evaluate values and condition assessment creating a space for heritage awareness and both ways interaction between the international and local community. At the same time, research on the use of buffer zones as well as condition and risk assessment in other relevant sites along the Silk Roads, in particular, at the complexes Chor-Bakr and Bahouddin Naqshaband was conducted. 

Managing World Heritage is about protecting the local and Outstanding Universal Values, empowering the local community and promoting their well-being and ensuring well-informed decisions by local authorities. At the end, all of them are the main actors in the preservation of the fabric of the historic city for our future generations. As our motto during this last summer said: kheili kheili khub – very very good!…let’s protect our heritage!

“The work in Bukhara was fulfilling in every aspect. Working in an international and multidisciplinary context, the opportunity to discover and observe the typology, architecture, and way of life of the people was unique experience on its own. The possibility to enter in the most intimate spaces of the houses, to be a part of  the way of living, lead to a better understanding of how the city and the houses are interconnected with the people and the culture of Bukhara. Our presence there and the work with the inhabitants and the children on the values and importance of Bukhara hopefully raised the level of awareness of the great universal significance of Bukhara”.

Martin Efremovski (Macedonia)
MSc in Conservation of Monuments and Sites student
Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, KULeuven

“Behind the stunning monumental structures of Bukhara there is a complex system of traditions, social interaction and economic development. These characteristics make the urban Historic Centre of Bukhara a place of controversial interests, conflicts and unique heritage opportunities. For a foreigner to explore this area is an exciting prospect. One has to adapt in the local standards and explore the local point of view in order to produce results and work efficiently. In addition, the opportunity to work in a UNESCO project with real challenges and questions was beneficial in terms of professional experience.    

The summer work that took place in July 2013 was essential because it produced a database on which additional projects can be developed. The definition of the historic centre’s limits, the understanding of the local perspective and our effort to include the local population in the management process are actions that make a management plan successful. In order to achieve sustainability in an area of great economic potential, tourism development and socio-cultural function one has to comprehend and analyse the different aspects that form the historic urban setting. In that sense our work reflects the process of understanding and creating the framework of action”. 

Evgenia Nikolopoulou (Greece)
MA Managing Archaeological Sites student
Institute of Archaeology, University College London

"Bukhara is considered one of the most ancient and biggest cities of central Asia which is really famous for its cultural heritage. For this reason it was inscribed in World Heritage List of UNESCO in 1993. The project of the preparation for management plan of Bukhara historical center was launched by UNESCO in 2008. I also participated at the initial stages of the project working with foreign students in 2011. During the project both sides Uzbeks and foreigners had a chance to exchange experiences with each other. Along this hands-on experience, I strengthened my knowledge that I gained at the Institute as an architect".

Iqbol Yuldashev
Student of Architecture
Tashkent State Institute of Architecture and Construction

“For me, as a Persian, the name of Bukhara was always woven to the poetries of Hafiz and Rudaki. Working on Bukhara Historic Centre for 42 days, surveying the houses in the hot weather of Uzbekistan- we experienced 55 degrees!- , talking with kind-hearted locals- luckily my native language has lots of resemblances with Tajik- brought the opportunity of comprehending the social-cultural layers of the Bukhara as well as its poetic essence. Moreover, our multidisciplinary cooperation on preparing risk management plans of the Chor Bakr and Bahouddin Nasqshband architectural complexes, not only expanded my knowledge of the Central Asia architecture, but also gave me a unique experience of being involved in the management plan preparation directly.

As Rudaki said 10 centuries ago:O Bukhara! Be blissful and live long!
Nasim Zand Dizari (Iran)MSc in Conservation of Monuments and Sites student,
Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, KULeuven 

“As a MA student in Managing Archaeological Sites at the University College London, my participation in the Management Plan of Bukhara Project meant an opportunity to improve skills and to explore the international cooperation behind the development of a plan for the preservation of a World Heritage property, through social surveying and architectural recognition, condition assessment, and recommendation workshops. As one of the most exciting experiences in my life, being part of an UNESCO summer internship, working with such an international group of people within a city full of history and a welcoming community, would contribute to my professional development, towards to be a better member of the world’s community”.

Eduardo A. Escalante Carrillo (Mexico)
MA Managing Archaeological Sites student, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

“It was very professional and unique practice for me, especially because it was my first time working with foreigner’s students. I enjoyed it. They were professionals in this work and I learned a lot in this practice. I learned how work within a multidisciplinary group, architects, archeologists, historians and  how to keep old city. I also learn how was life in Bukhara 500 years ago and how it now. I saw our traditional  houses and mosques. We have great heritage and we need to preserve it. I think this project is good for the development country, when we value our heritage, it will be useful for local people and for country”.

Sirojiddin Fayzullaev (Uzbekistan)
Student of ArchitectureTashkent State Institute of Architecture and Construction

“As a result of field survey, I got a lot of useful and positive experience working with students from the RLICC and UCL. We surveyed houses located within the boundaries of  Bukhara, filled out assessment forms, took pictures and some measurements. We communicated with the citizens and found out what problems they have and what it is happening within this area. Besides, we discussed about the management plan of Bukhara and drafted recommendations concerning the preservation and protection of traditional houses. We also updated information of the sites along the Silk Roads Corridor- Penjikent-Samarkand-Poykent Corridor, such as research on threats and management. I got not only skills necessary for my master thesis, but have got excellent practice working with young specialists from over the world and found friends”.

Tatiana Trudolyubova (Uzbekistan)
GIS Specialist, UNESCO Office in Tashkent

“An international group met in the cultural crossroads of Bukhara for the World Heritage Management project. Knowledge about conservation was shared in one of the world’s most important historic intellectual centres. This context was responsible for creating a professional internship with great symbolic meaning”.

Delphine Vanoverberghe (Belgium)
MSc in Conservation of Monuments and Sites student
Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, KULeuven

“The internship working at the UNESCO office in Tashkent was a great opportunity. I gained new skills and knowledge on a deeper level in Central Asian Islamic culture and World Heritage management. Regarding the conservation planning in the Historic Centre of Bukhara, the value-centred approach provides better heritage ethics and builds practical strategies. It was really experiencing to see how local people interact with the ancient Bukhara city today, while doing the field-surveys and the interviews with stakeholders. This remarkable experience thus gave me new motivation to pursue a future career after my master degree”.

Seungduk Nam (Republic of Korea)MA in Managing Archaeological Sites studentInstitute of Archaeology, University College London

“The summer work in Bukhara 2013 was an extremely interactive process. The interns went from house to house within the boundaries of the Historic Centre of Bukhara to assess the value of each of them with respect to the ideal vernacular housing found in this region. It was remarkable how the soaring temperature outside was reduced to cool interiors due to various passive cooling techniques used in the construction – mud walls and central open courtyard being the most important ones. The survey also led to a great deal of interaction between the interns and the locals, both trying to understand each other’s culture. The generous hospitality and friendliness of the locals allowed us to explain them the significance of our work in their region, also creating awareness about heritage and goals of UNESCO for protecting it. The people responded with enthusiasm to our advices and research work, and we hope it could be a positive impact on the future development of the historic centre”.

Nishant Upadhyay (India)
MSc in Conservation of Monuments and Sites student
Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, KULeuven

“First, when got a chance to be a part of a UNESCO team, working on the Historic center of Bukhara project, I knew it was going to be fun… Having a month of exploring a city, I have never been to, was quite promising. The reality turned to be even more exciting. Participating in a global scale project was a challenge for me. Understanding that our work will result in either saving Bukhara a world heritage site or not was a great responsibility to bear. That was something more, than academic projects I have been doing before. Exploring the old city of Bukhara, questioning people, learning about what they do and their concerns are was something I took very serious. I could not be indifferent when the issue was linked to the fate of the city and people in it. I was the one to “host” the foreign students, which I realized was a hard work to do. I was supposed to respond the questions I have never ever imagined about. At the same time, I wanted Uzbekistan to become for them an experience they will remember for many years. The fact I volunteered for the project will become an important part of my personal and professional development, it undoubtedly enriched my knowledge, allowed me to have new skills and spend unforgettable time together with my colleagues and friends”.

Alim Feyzulayev (Uzbekistan)Student of ArchitectureTashkent State Institute of Architecture and Construction

“The work I did with UNESCO in Bukhara during four weeks has been a special way to visit and connect with this old city and his inhabitants. I could better understand local people way of living; see their reality, by entering their homes and meeting their families. I am glad of that experience because this world is changing very rapidly and sometimes in a very contradictory way. The impact of western culture in fact is always very strong on other cultures. So I think in our work we tried to have a more respectful role, going deeper in understanding their values, an order to establish a positive dialogue and exchange”.

Carla Biagioli (Italy)
MSc in Conservation of Monuments and Sites student
Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, KULeuven

“My internship at the UNESCO office in Tashkent provided me the opportunity to make my dream of travelling to the beautiful Bukhara a reality. The earthen houses with the down to earth Bukhara people whose hearts are as warm as the sizzling sun were our oasis during our months of field work to survey the historic houses. Being able to communicate in my mother tongue, Persian to the Tajik speaking Bukhara people helped not only to open the doors to their houses but also their hearts. Furthermore working on a project to prepare a children’s brochure on heritage allowed me to take a step further and enter the children’s world. They depicted their pride in their city and heritage through amazing drawings of Bukhara which show how they cherish their city and all they need is the chance to tell their story”.

Negin Eisazadeh (Iran)
MSc in Conservation of Monuments and Sites student
Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, KULeuven

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