Birkat al Mawz
UK varsity wins Omani heritage research bid
London, August 8, 2012
UK’s Nottingham Trent University has been awarded a GBP135,000 ($211,260) contract to aid the continuation of fundamental research into the preservation of heritage sites in Oman.
Architecture professor Soumyen Bandyopadhyay was granted the funding from Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Culture to continue to undertake the research into heritage significance, preservation and reuse.
The project will establish ways that the heritage settlements could remain meaningful to present and future generations of Omanis, while looking at their potential as tourist sites for local and international visitors, which will help to generate jobs and income.
Heritage management and development master plans for five vernacular settlements in central Oman – Birkat al Mawz, Izki, Bahla, Ibri and Fanja – will be prepared by Prof Bandyopadhyay and his team of researchers to record the threats and propose sensitive restoration and re-design for the settlements and monuments.
“Human settlements are expressions of culture, social order and political intentions in space. They are tangible representations of historical events and illustrate cultural continuity through the built environment. With Oman’s rich and diverse cultural heritage it is vital to preserve it,” said Prof Bandyopadhyay.
“Fast-paced development has resulted in gradual migration away from vernacular environments into modern towns and cities, and as a result many vernacular settlements are abandoned and falling into disrepair.
The funding will enable the project to look at the sensitive and sustainable transformation of historic structures and new interventions. By working closely with ministries on the historic settlements, the research will be contributing to transforming the preservation of built and cultural heritage of the Gulf region,” he added.
In addition to continuing Professor Bandyopadhyay’s research into the traditional environments of the Arabian and Persian Gulf region, the project is likely to have a significant impact in addressing the integration of developmental aspirations with concerns regarding heritage preservation.
“Omani built heritage has remained poorly researched and its evaluation and understanding could throw light on the significance of such built heritage within hot-arid regions and give Oman its deserved place in world architecture,” Prof Bandyopadhyay added. – TradeArabia News Service