Thursday, June 22, 2017

News: Al-Khalifa Heritage Project Resumes

The third phase of the Al-Khalifa Area Rehabilitation Project has resumed after securing the required funds, writes Nevine El-Aref.
 The Three Newly Restored Domes
The Al-Khalifa area of Cairo, known for its Islamic monuments, is again in the limelight as the third phase of its rehabilitation project is now set to begin after being put on hold owing to the lack of a budget. The project is being carried out by the Ministry of Antiquities in collaboration with the Cairo governorate, the built-environment collective Megawra, the Al-Athar Lina (the Monuments are Ours) initiative, and Mashroo Kheir.

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, director of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the third phase included the implementation of a pilot project to integrate solutions for ground-water problems in historic contexts.

A multi-disciplinary research and training programme with the participation of an international team of architects, conservators, urban planners, and experts in urbanism, environment, infrastructure and water resources had begun this in 2016, he said. The programme was organised by Megawra and the universities of Oregon and Cornell in the US, with funding from the American Research Centre in Egypt (ARCE) and the American Embassy in Cairo in partnership with the Ministry of Antiquities and the Cairo governorate.

The team has studied the phenomenon of rising ground water in historic areas and its impact on historic buildings. It has also trained professionals and scholars in the field of heritage conservation on state-of-the-art techniques of the treatment of historic buildings that suffer from high amounts of salt and water damage.

The programme will follow this up by using technologies that can be implemented and that are suitable for the social particularity and economic conditions of the area, with the aim of transforming ground water from a source of harm to a social resource. The third phase, Abdel-Aziz said, includes the restoration of both the Al-Ashraf Khalil and Fatma Khatoun domes in Islamic Cairo.

 Th Al-Sayeda Rokaya Mausoleum 
The Fatma Khatoun Dome was originally a mausoleum and was once part of the Al-Madrasa Al-Khatouniya and the Madrasa Umm Al-Saleh. During the Ottoman period, it was used as a Sufi hostel. The madrasa (school) no longer exists. The dome is located on Al-Ashraf Street near the Al-Sayeda Nafisa Mausoleum. It was built by the Mameluke Sultan Al-Ashraf Salaheddin Khalil Ibn Qalawoun for his wife Khawand Khatoun. The mausoleum is composed of an inner square, a minaret and two rows of stalactites within an outer arch.

The Mausoleum of Al-Ashraf Khalil was founded in 687 AH (1288 CE) by Sultan Qalawoun. The lower part is built using stone-crowned stalactites, while the dome is made of brick.

The restoration project aims to preserve both domes from water damage by installing a new drainage system. It will also decrease the level of humidity, consolidate the walls, and repair cracks. The open area in front of the dome is to be converted into a public park, including an open-air theatre, cafeteria, library and a playing area for children. An administrative building is to be provided.

Abdel-Aziz said that the project was part of a long-term plan to develop the Al-Khalifa area, both archaeologically and in terms of urban planning, as a step towards upgrading... Read More.

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