The future of the mahalla: traditions and opportunities

26.10.2021 11:05

Tashkent, Uzbekistan ( - Today, in Tashkent, the Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan organized a round table at which experts in the field of architecture and construction discussed the topic: “The future of the mahalla, innovative approaches to preserving the historical heritage”.

Representatives of the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Mahalla and Family, the Khokimiyat of the city of Tashkent and the UNESCO office in Tashkent also took part in the discussion.

The event was attended by students and doctoral students of the Higher Technical School in Zurich, students of the Tashkent Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering, media, bloggers, representatives of the “Urban Planning Wave” initiative at the Yuksalish National Movement, as well as the Association of Designers and Architects of Uzbekistan.

The main objective of the meeting is to highlight the topic of the Mahalla among the population, in the media and in the public, as one of the most important cultural values of the Uzbek people, the country’s architectural and social heritage, which must be preserved in accordance with the modern requirements of world standards. With the help of the presence of competent foreign and local experts who have carried out an in-depth study of this topic, discussions will be held on all kinds of effective mechanisms for the correct, harmonious preservation of makhallas in the modern urban space.

The main topic of discussion was the research conducted and the results of field work, which were carried out in preparation for the project of the National Pavilion at the Architectural Biennale, as well as the future of makhallas in the context of the project to create a historical and administrative reserve, initiated by the Fund in partnership with the Khokimiyat of the city of Tashkent, the National Commission on for UNESCO in Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

This project envisages the creation of the State Historical and Architectural Reserve on the basis of the makhallas of Hastimom, Hofiz Kukhaki, Abu Bakr Shoshiy, Kushtut, Chigatoy Darvoza, Eski Shahar, Namuna, Guzarboshi, Khazrati Imam, Achobod, Guruch Arik, Korasaroy, Khonchorbog and Gulbazar and Almazar districts of the city of Tashkent, with the preservation of the traditional way of life through reconstruction and restoration work. Currently, there are more than 30 objects of historical and cultural value in the aforementioned area.

A number of practical measures for the preservation of unique monuments have been developed by Uzbek and foreign scientists, architects and experts, which include:

-development of the boundaries of the protected area;

-determination and substantiation of the protected status of objects of historical heritage outside the protected area;

-creation of a design code with the involvement of foreign and domestic specialists in reconstruction, restoration and conservation, as well as art history;

- creation of the concept of restoration and modernization of residential areas;

-forming a list of priority measures for the reconstruction and preservation of makhallas.

With the support of the Government of Uzbekistan in 2021, at the 17th International Architectural Exhibition in Venice - La Biennale di Venezia - the first National Pavilion of Uzbekistan was presented under the name "Mahalla: Urban and Provincial Life". 

The Foundation acted as the Commissioner of the first National Pavilion of Uzbekistan. The pavilion curators were Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein, professors of the Higher Technical School in Zurich, who, with their team of researchers, doctoral students and university students, conducted a detailed study of more than ten mahallas in the city of Tashkent, and studied more than twenty houses in various districts. As part of their research, the architects deeply investigated the architecture of buildings, the current state and historical component of makhallas, way of life, social characteristics and traditions, as well as the impact of various historical events on makhallas and the structure of houses.

The project "Mahalla: Urban and Provincial Life" aroused great interest among viewers, as well as from international experts and foreign media.

As a continuation of this project, the Foundation initiated the project "Mahalla stories", within the framework of which a series of educational initiatives were held, including round tables, open discussions and master classes, the task of which was to popularize the conversation about the mahalla at the international level. ...

In general, the mahalla was perceived by international experts as a way to revive eco-architecture, a method of preserving modern cities from mass urbanization, as well as preserving social values and community.

Within the framework of the Mahalla stories project, the Foundation, in partnership with the ETH Higher Technical School (Zurich), organized a visit of a group of students led by the curators of the National Pavilion of Uzbekistan - Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein from 23 to 30 October 2021. During the visit, it is planned to hold a number of meetings and master classes with the participation of scientists and architects of Uzbekistan, students of the Tashkent Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering, film screenings, as well as visits to historical makhallas of Tashkent and meetings with their residents.

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