The Second Architectural Heritage Summer School on “Islamic Urban Heritage. Research, Preservation and Management”

20 June-17 July 2012

IRCICA and Al-Turath Islamic Heritage Foundation (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) have held the 2012 Summer School in the context of the program titled "Islamic Urban Heritage. Research, Preservation and Management". The school was conducted through 20 June to 17 July 2012 involving two weeks of studio work in Istanbul followed by two weeks of training in field trips to significant heritage cities and sites. 33 students from the OIC member countries and Europe participated in the school.

The program was launched last year with the first school organized in June-July 2011 jointly with Al-Turath Islamic Heritage Foundation, chaired by H.R.H. Prince Sultan bin Salman, who is also the Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities. The 2012 school likewise benefited from international academic collaboration, which constitutes a crucial feature of the whole program. The collaborating institutions included Yıldız Technical University, Istanbul; King Saud University, Riyadh; Politecnico di Bari, Bari; Prince's School of Traditional Arts, London; University of Ferrera, Ferrara; University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo; Istanbul University, Istanbul; Marmara University, Istanbul; Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul; Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul; Kadir Has University, Istanbul; Istanbul Kültür University, Istanbul; Bahçeşehir University, Istanbul; Istanbul Şehir University, Istanbul; Bilecik University, Bilecik; Mardin Artuklu University, Mardin; Onsekiz Mart University, Çanakkale; Uludağ University, Bursa. The municipalities of the cities visited for field studies extended their valuable collaboration and facilities.

The successful outcomes of the schools especially from the viewpoint of their observable benefits in responding to a need and filling a gap in the field of training for heritage management has led the organizers to institute it as a bi-annual activity instead of annual as envisaged before. Thus, a Winter School will take place in Saudi Arabia from 24 December 2012 to 7 January 2013 as the second part and mid-year component of the 2012 program.

The Islamic Urban Heritage - Research, Preservation and Management School focused on:

  • Technical practice on site, design of preservation and urban development projects;
  • Management, planning and evaluation of the economic and social impact of urban heritage and its conservation, and provision of appropriate financial solutions;
  • Research, analysis and documentation of urban heritage sites and buildings as a basis for the development of the "IRCICA-Prince Sultan bin Salman Architectural Heritage Database".

Participants in the program were holders of a Bachelor degree or above in architecture, urban planning, archaeology, art history, history, civil engineering or project management. Certificates were delivered on successful completion of the program, issued by IRCICA, Al-Turath Foundation, and Yıldız Technical University as the host institution.

The two main sections of the program can be detailed as:

1. Practical issues on historical preservation - The section involved lectures given on site or at the school by professors and leading experts of the field in Turkey focusing on architectural restoration and urban conservation practices. The lectures on "Practice and Theory of Historic Preservation" aimed to introduce international and national approaches to the research, preservation and management of Islamic urban heritage by presenting local, national and international cases and discussion of experiences. This part of the program was divided into two sections: The initial section included lectures focusing on the fields of history, urban planning, historic preservation and the management of cultural heritage. The second section involved the presentation of architectural restoration, integrated planning and management practices by national experts, along with visits to restoration sites in Istanbul such as Büyük Mabeyn in Yıldız Palace, Hüseyin Ağa Mosque in Taksim, Süleymaniye Complex. The topics treated included: traditional construction techniques, architectural restoration, conservation of traditional materials (stone, adobe, brick, timber, ceramics), integrated planning, heritage site management, history, urban planning, historic preservation, management of cultural heritage.

2. Practical case studies field trips - The case study field trips included visits to important urban heritage sites in Turkey where seminars took place along with site visits. The seminars concerned with the sharing of local preservation practice and experiences, which complemented with case studies on site. The following heritage sites were visited: Trabzon, Giresun, Ordu, Niksar, Tokat, Amasya, Taşköprü, Safranbolu, Edirne. Among these are two World Heritage Sites (Edirne Selimiye Mosque Complex and the City of Safranbolu) inscribed in the List of UNESCO. In those heritage sites, the main features were visited and seminars organized with the participation of national and international experts and the representatives of local authorities. These seminars focused on the safeguarding and management of the sites and the promotion of sustainable development.

The last two days of the program were devoted to panels for recapitulation and evaluation.

Some of the lectures are summarized below, in alphabetical order of lecturers' names.

Nur Akın, Professor of Architecture, Kültür University, Istanbul, and former President of ICOMOS Turkey

"Urban and architectural heritage of two Anatolian towns: Safranbolu and Antalya"

"Safranbolu was included in UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1994 for its traditional-typical Ottoman houses dating from 19th century. Since proclamation of the Urban Conservation Law in 1973 Safranbolu has been preserved. Restoration and rehabilitation planning is continuing. As a historic town, in Antalya too conservation and preservation projects were started around the same time, in 1974, but Antalya lost its authenticity due to its being a major tourism center. Construction of the yacht marina and conversion of carpet shops and gardens into restaurants and of the cotton store into a hotel. These are examples of the transformations the city underwent."        

Nihad Baboviç, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

"Sinan's Mosque or universal temple"

"Mimar Sinan belonged to the construction tradition reflecting a humble architect. In his works, exterior areas are the outside world and interior is the inside of the body. For example; the four minarets of Selimiye symbolize forces of nature or the four angels in Islam, eight columns symbolize human heart and the dome covers the people inside. Most of Sinan's works are in Istanbul."  

Önder Bayır, Dr., Head of the Ottoman Archives Department, Turkish Prime Ministry's State Archives, Istanbul

"The importance of the Ottoman Archive for the study of history"

"The Ottoman archives contain most valuable archival materials. Architects need to collaborate with historians to read and understand the archival sources. The documents contained in many of the different categories of registers such as Ruznamçe, Muhimme, Name-i Humayun, Mukavelename are of crucial importance as original first-hand sources for studies in history of urban development, policies and practices and individual buildings."

Demet Binan, Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, Istanbul

"Defining, preserving and sustaining traces of Mimar Sinan within the framework of Turkish-Islamic and world heritage

Mimar Sinan served for fifty years as the head of the Corps of Court Architects (Hassa Mimarlar Ocağı) of the Ottoman Palace. He represents the classical Ottoman architect and is a symbol of Ottoman architectural production. Concrete traces of Sinan's architectural work are his "monumental structures" while his other works were limited and built for his own use. Another group of concrete traces of his works that reached our time are the handworks and the dedication inscriptions ("vakfiye") which were written by Sinan's friend the muralist and poet Mustafa Said Çelebi and told the stories of his works.

Avni Çebi, President of Architects & Engineers Group, Istanbul

"Urbanization, Urban Regeneration and a City for Everyone"

"Cities are where people come together, fulfill their needs, live in a society and Istanbul is huge and crowded city. If people can move as they wish, they can feel themselves secure, strong and comfortable. Public lands within the city should be protected as "golden areas". We need urban transformation and new architectural approaches which will combine modern perceptions and traditional materials. People need to live in an unobstructed, reachable, livable, sustainable, united and merciful city for everybody from every social group."

Yüksel Demir, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul


"Nature and culture have a significant role on architecture. In the case of Mardin, the originality of the city could not be preserved. Mardin hosted one of the first universities of the world. Its citizens are demanding the establishment of a higher education institute. This institute would provide guidance and consultancy to the administrators and citizens towards solving the city's problems. There is a need for an interdisciplinary research center, an international platform for intellectual activities to be conducted in collaboration with some local actors. We need development with preservation of cultural and social values. We also need to combine global resources with local initiatives."

Yonca Kösebay Erkan, Assistant Professor, Kadir Has University, Istanbul

"The 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention: overview of the 36th World Heritage Committee meeting"

"Local communities have a very important role for sustainable development. At its 36th Session in St. Petersburg, the World Heritage Committee reviewed 141 reports concerning 144 properties, including the 35 properties described on the list of World Heritage in Danger. Natural and human made disasters should be dealt with separately from each other in preparing management reports. For example, the natural and cultural sites in Palestine are discussed as separate items in the WHC meetings. But periodic and special reports are needed for protection of Palestinian cultural and natural heritage."

Ali Reyhan Esen, General Manager at Reyhan Mimarlık, Istanbul

"The District Preservation Boards and their approach to conservation"

"The main aim of conservation approach for natural and cultural properties is identification and protection. Conservation areas are necessary for the protection of historical sites. Historical sites can be divided into categories such as archeological, natural, urban archeological, cultural."

Robert Di Giulio, Professor of Architecture, Dean of Faculty of Architecture, University of Ferrara, Italy

"High technologies for cultural heritage: technologies for the survey and monitoring of cultural heritage"

"High technology for surveys and design with 3D and Laser Scanner are very crucial to solve the problems like problems related to access the sites, speed of procedures, cost of survey... For example in the case studies like Perugia, Pompeii, Firenze and Salerno, using this technology was needed. With this technology research projects can be developed and archeological heritage can be preserved. TekneHub is one of the four laboratories of the Technopole of Ferrara."

Murat Güvenç, Professor, Department of Sociology, Şehir University, Istanbul

"A methodological framework for Istanbul's 20th-century urban historiography"

"Istanbul is taken up as one of the three major gateways to Europe. The period from 1945-1975 which encouraged urban sprawl and suburbanization in most of the western countries had totally different impacts in Turkey's metropolitan centers. Political, economic and socio-cultural changes reflect the map of lifestyles within the city's confines. The Bosphorus and the Golden Horn generate non-negligible deterrence effects upon intra-urban mobility."  

Ahmet Hadrović, Professor of Architecture, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

"Public faucets in Bosnia and Herzegovina"

"Public faucets are very important in Bosnia Herzegovina. A man named Ajvaz Dedo prayed to God that He may give people water. A huge rock cracked and water started running. Ajvatovica is an Islamic tradition and cultural commemoration accompanied by prayers, dedicated to Ajvaz Dedo. Water is benediction. This is one example of traditional stories that are told in relation with various architectural structures that are esteemed by the people."   

Aida İdrizbegoviç-Zgonic, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Sarajevo University, Bosnia and Herzegovina

"Restoration of Sevri Hadji Hasan Mosque in Mostar (2002-2003)"

"Sevri Hadzi Hasan Mosque in Mostar was built in 1603, heavily damaged in 1993 and restored in 2002. Its minaret collapsed on the cubic structure in 1993 and the mihrab wall was also heavily damaged. A small portion of the roof and wooden dome survived. Its minaret was brought to its original portion according to the restoration project. All the stones were identified, minaret stones were marked. On the structure, the stones which separate old and new can be visually identified. Students should learn vernacular, traditional elements, images and building techniques instead of general images."

Nevzat İlhan, Professor of Architecture, Edirne World Heritage Site Manager, Edirne, Turkey

"Historical/urban evolution and UNESCO WHS Edirne Selimiye Mosque Complex"

"Edirne (Hadrianopolis) was a multicultural walled medieval Byzantine city when it became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The city was then planned to expand eastwards. The new palace was placed out of the old town. But after the Russian invasion many historical buildings were destroyed. Non-Muslims were living inside the walls and Muslims were living outside. The Macedonian Tower was a clock tower from Abdulhamid II's era. Like all Islamic cities the growth of the city is mainly around the religious and commercial buildings in the center. There are three important mosques named Three Balconies Mosque, Old Mosque and Selimiye Mosque, respectively. Also to be mentioned are caravanserais like Rustempaşa Kervansaray, public kitchens, public baths, and the mental hospital in Bayezid II Complex. Selimiye Mosque is inscribed on the World Heritage List."

Mustafa Kaçar, Professor of History of Science, Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University

"Water supply systems in Ottoman cities"

"Windmills started to be built in the Ottoman lands after the 16th century. Mills are the ancestors of modern water tribunes. Niksar has one of them. Niksar hosted many different civilizations. It is at the point where North Anatolia-South Anatolia and East Anatolia-West Anatolia meet. It has 66 monuments consisting of one castle, six inns, medersas, mosques and baths. Vast majority of these monuments from Seljukid, Ilkhanid, Danishment and Ottoman periods are around the castle."  

Eleni Kanetaki, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, Democritus University of Thrace, Greece

"Ottoman Heritage in the Greek Lands: An overview of its past, its present and its future"

"There are some differences between religious buildings (mosques, tekkes) and secular buildings (baths, markets, khans, libraries, imarets) and works of military architecture (like castles, fortresses) dating from the Ottoman period. There are many Ottoman styled mosques in Rhodes, Crete, Ioannina, Larissa, Nafplio, Chania, Trikala and Athens in Greece. Some minarets in Greece are renovated but some of them have to be removed due to structural problems. Part of the Ottoman architectural heritage in Greece is in use as galleries, auditoriums or museums today. About preservation of this heritage: young people need to be educated."

Heath W. Lowry, Professor, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Bahçeşehir University, Istanbul

"From Pythion to Dimetoka, Edirne & Beyond: the Ottoman conquest of the Meriç (Evros) River Valley"

"The fortress of Phytion, strategically located site near by the city Dimetoka is the oldest Ottoman fortification. The gateway and the tower of the fortress were added later. Once Ottomans controlled the fortress they controlled the river. Ottomans conquered Dimetoka -the double walled city- peacefully because people of Dimetoka forced the rulers to surrender. There were non-Muslim houses inside the walls but outside the walls a new Muslim city was built. In 1878-79 two Ottoman palaces that were destroyed during the second Balkan War were built in Edirne. Unlike Mongols, Ottomans used peaceful policies to non-Muslims."

Randall Mason, Associate Professor and Chair, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

"Will there be a heritage conservation field in 50 years?"

"There is a crisis of legitimacy and profession about the field. A modern city should be created with cultural and historic values. It can be said that there is no authentic architecture in the USA. We do not have models on how it actually works in contemporary society. We need historic preservation and heritage conservation as a new tradition. We also need systematic thinking and public-private partnership. We should think about multiple modernities."

Aylin Orbaşlı, Reader in Architectural Regeneration, Department of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom

"Managing tourism in historic towns"

"For urban conservation, we should know the identity of a city and its links to the past. With physical, social and economic objectives, tourism plays an important role in historic town conservation. It is also a potential source of finance for conservation. Since the 1980s tourism has been a significant economic sector for many small historic towns across Europe. The recognition of this financial benefit is spreading globally. If we compare conservation and tourism; conservation has authenticity, integrity, and remains an integral part of the city whereas tourism carries a cluster of activities and appeals to a wide range of visitors."

Aysun Özkose, Professor, Head of the Restoration Department, Fethi Toker Faculty of Fine Arts and Design, Karabük University, Turkey

"Sustainability in the process of becoming World Heritage Sites"

"In Safranbolu civilization dates back to the Hittites and the Byzantines. During the Ottoman period which featured the waqf institution and the Ahi tradition [guild system aligned around a spiritual leadership peculiar to Asia Minor], Muslims and non-Muslims in the same village started to work, look after and respect each other. Mosques (Köprülü Camii), Arasta (commercial centre - Cinci Khan), public baths and bazaars still have an important role in social life. Ornamentals, ceilings, doors and cupboards, pools in courtyards show us the richness of Safranbolu. All windows have a view and never block each other."  

Attilio Petruccioli, Professor of Architecture, Director of ICAR, Faculty of Architecture, Bari Polytechnic, Italy

"Heritage and local development: the dead cities in Syria"

"In Syria there are 700 historical villages and some of them are very well preserved. The agriculture is very limited today and still there are local people living in these villages in well preserved Roman houses. The name of one of these villages is Deir Simon and has a few new houses in the old village. Private and public sphere in the village are separated and there is a link between revitalization and local development. There are some small and cheap hotels for tourists near the village. Political and economic problems are very important. The projects for the villages should be minimalist, local people should be encouraged and local governments should support the projects."  

Daniele Pini, Architect, Professor of Urban Planning, Faculty of Architecture, University of Ferrara, Italy and UNESCO Expert

"The historic urban landscapes: a comprehensive approach to conservation"

"There is a need for new approaches to conservation. A heritage is not only a historical monument. Historical, cultural and traditional values belong to history and we should preserve these values and enhance the quality of the human environment. Conservation is a process of management of change and future. Economic, social and cultural urbanization, social and human development, concern for the environment are needed... Tourism is a part of urban development."

Mohsin al-Qarni, Executive Director, Urban Heritage Center, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Riyadh

"The accomplishments of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities in the field of urban heritage"

"Mud buildings are very common in the central area of Riyadh. In the North and the West of Riyadh stone buildings such as castles represent the earlier Islamic periods. Urban heritage is related to environment, culture and tradition. During the last ten years, the urban heritage has been rehabilitated in conjunction with the local municipalities. Studies were made about urban heritage problems and a road map, strategy and action plan were prepared for the next five years. Laws and regulations have been prepared to protect and develop national urban heritage sites. The new antiquities law will be next. Subvillages, souqs, old historical buildings, some museums in Jeddah, Riyadh, Taif, Ghatt, Rijal-Almaa, Jubbah, al-Ula and Hofuf among others, were rehabilitated. But for all these rehabilitation projects, working with the local people and agencies and training local people were very important."    

Suphi Saatçi, Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, Istanbul

"The classical age of Ottoman architecture and Sinan"

"Istanbul has been a stage for large scale public works since it came under Ottoman reign in 1453. Maturation process of the classical style lasted until the mid-16th century. Edirnekapı Mihrimah Sultan Complex is one of the most imitated works of Mimar Sinan. Süleymaniye Complex was constructed for Kanuni Sultan Süleyman. The Sokullu Complex is an example of organic architecture decorated with tile panels. The circularity of Selimiye's dome and unity of space inside the mosque are unique. Sinan also restored Hagia Sofia and added two minarets. Büyükçekmece Bridge has also the signature of Sinan. He had his tomb constructed in the most humble corner of Süleymaniye."

Livio Sacchi, Professor, University Chieti, Pescara, Italy

"A critical survey and a design proposal for al-Balad, the historic district in Jeddah, KSA"

"In al-Balad as a gateway to the pilgrimage to Mecca, the historic district had been left unattended in the past decades; so were many other cities in the middle of the desert. The district has been renovated in accordance with local people's own social, cultural needs and values. Old buildings can coexist with the climate and environment. Traditional buildings can coexist with a modern and digitalized world. For example in al-Balad Historical District Survey, 3D modeling and laser scanner were used. With this modeling Nasef House was renovated and reopened to the public. Public presentations are very important to make local people understand how important their heritage is."

Mehmet Şimşek Deniz, Conservation and Implementation Control and Education Bureau, Municipality of Istanbul

"The role of KUDEB in Conservation of Heritage"

"In Süleymaniye and Zeyrek districts of Istanbul, social status and religion used to define the form of the houses. A typical old house has haremlik (private) and selamlık (public) parts. There is only a small window called hacet (need) on ground floor. The school and the mosque mark the center of the neighborhood."

Zeynep Gül Ünal, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Yıldız Technical University, Istanbul

"Remarks about disaster risk management of cultural heritage in Islamic countries"

"Fire in India and Bhutan, earthquake in Italy, armed conflict in Mali and Syria are disasters that happened in the course one month. Disaster is related to risk, hazard and vulnerability and these concepts need identification. You have to know how vulnerable you are for the disaster and accept your weak point. Monitoring the situation you can estimate the problem and reduce the risk. Management of disaster needs clear statement of policy, supporting legislation, focal agency, national framework plan, integrated plans, training, practice, public awareness and finance."