Aleppo's Conservation Plan Focuses On Architecture With A Social Vision

Aleppo, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, is undergoing a conservation project that includes the restoration of hundreds of houses, a new park, and rebuilding city streets and services.
January 14, 2011, 1pm PST | George Haugh
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The method behind the conservation, pioneered by a German NGO and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in concert with the Syrian government, is "the culmination of a major philosophical shift among preservationists in the region."

Those involved are seeking to reverse a fifty year history of restoring only major artifacts, destroying surrounding neighborhoods if necessary and driving away poor residents through gentrification. To do this, planners carved large avenues through neighborhoods that were seen as cramped and backward in an effort to funnel more tourists toward antiquated attractions.

"What makes the new project such an auspicious model for the region, though, is its clear grasp of how architecture can both shape and define relationships among social groups. The road surrounding the Citadel, which choked it with cars and exhaust fumes, has been replaced by a pedestrian walkway bordered by the newly landscaped moat on one side and scattered historical buildings on the other."

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Published on Sunday, December 26, 2010 in The New York Times
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