The NED University of Engineering and Technology, a prestigious institution of engineering in Pakistan, has identified over 1,400 heritage buildings in Karachi for preservation and restoration through community funding.
The heritage cell at the NED’s architecture department has recently introduced community-based preservation projects in three areas: Napier Road, Burns Road and Sarai Road.
“These three locations have been selected initially as they are affected by a multitude of problems,” said Dr Noman Ahmed, a professor and the chairman of the architecture and planning department at the NED University.
“The most prominent problems include physical encroachments, solid waste which is generally uncollected, disorganised parking, illegal additions to heritage buildings, failing sewerage systems and the public generally disinterested in revitalisation of their neighbourhoods.”
While the Sindh Culture Department has notified protected heritage buildings according to scientific procedures, it has not been able to provide any assistance or technical support to the owners or occupants in improving their heritage buildings or the surrounding environment.
“The restoration project,” Ahmed said, “aims to create wide scale awareness about heritage buildings through effective methods of communication.”
The architecture department has specially designed brochures and communication literature in different languages and distributed them among the various categories of users of public heritage at different sites. Field workers have also carried out different sessions with the occupants of heritage buildings.
As an initial step towards implementation, a community-based solid waste management plan has been introduced in the Burns Road area to maintain cleanliness in the neighbourhoods.
Ahmed said that officers of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation had also been engaged in the dialogue for assistance. “We are hopeful that if the various stages of the plan are implemented, the project can serve as a useful model for replication in other parts of the city and beyond,” he added.
When asked how many heritage buildings had been identified, the professor claimed that restoration and preservation of over 1,400 buildings would be carried out through funds generated through the community.