Thula Fort Restoration
by Abdullah Al-Hadrami

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The watchtowers, walls and pathways of a historic fort were repaired and rebuilt as part of this restoration project in the 2000-year-old city of Thula, Yemen, one of 20 projects shortlisted for the 2013 Aga Khan Award.

Thula Fort Restoration by Abdullah Al-Hadrami

Prolific as a centre of Sabaean civilisation in the fifteenth century, the ancient walled city contains many well-preserved houses and mosques. However, locals were concerned that the arrival of a new road in 2004 would threaten their cultural heritage.

Thula Fort Restoration by Abdullah Al-Hadrami

"[It] will cause a lot of problems in the future, damaging the architectural elements and the features of the landscape and the terraces of the town," explained architect Abdullah Al-Hadrami, who responded to the development by working alongside the Social Fund for Development and a group of local residents to preserve the architecture.

Thula Fort Restoration by Abdullah Al-Hadrami

The team repaired the old watch towers and the large Bab al Mayah gate, and rebuilt the walls of burial grounds and terraces.

Thula Fort Restoration by Abdullah Al-Hadrami

They also restored the fort's pathways and waterways, including a large cistern that is still in use.

Thula Fort Restoration by Abdullah Al-Hadrami

Other projects on the shortlist for the Aga Khan Award 2013 include an apartment block built from stone offcuts and a series of timber and earth houses for tsunami victims. See more from the Aga Khan Award shortlist.

Thula Fort Restoration by Abdullah Al-Hadrami

Photography is by Cemal Emden.

Here's a short project description from the Aga Khan Award organisers:


Thula Fort Restoration

Threatened by the disruption that might ensue from the construction of a road, the Thula community, with the help of The Social Fund for Development, has undertaken a series of historic preservation projects to protect cultural assets, including rebuilding the walls of burial grounds and walls of agricultural terraces, restoring the Bab al Mayah gate, watch towers, paths and waterways, and repairing the cistern that remains in use to this day.

Thula Fort Restoration by Abdullah Al-Hadrami

Thula is well-known for artefacts from the Sabaean period and its prototypical massive stone architecture. During the preservation process an archaeological site was discovered with gates and walls that should provide further insights into the Sabaeans and their civilisation.

Location: Thula, Yemen (Africa)
Architect: Abdullah Al-Hadrami, Sana'a, Yemen
Client: The Social Fund for Development, Thula Local Council
Completed: 2011
Design: 2004
Site size: 8,754 sqm

  • blah

    That cistern is amazing, so organic looking, it’s got a really modern vibe to it.

  • http://www.zazous.co.uk Kate Austin

    Fascinating. Yemen must be one of the least familiar places on the planet so it is so interesting to see such an interesting glimpse of it.

  • M.Paule

    Coucou, je viens de trouver cet ensemble de maisons et de lieux de vie. C’est extraordinaire.