Kabul ~ Urban Regeneration through Building Conservation, with Ian Constantinides

Ian’s subject is the the making of a world class School of Islamic Arts and Traditional Architectural Crafts in one of Kabul's most deprived quarters


A talk by Ian Constantinides about The Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Afghanistan. The foundation was established by Rory Stewart OBE, (author of The Places in Between and current Tory parliamentary candidate for Penrith & The Border) at the behest of HRH The Prince of Wales and President Karzai

Ian Constantinides has lectured all over the world about building conservation and founded St Blaise Ltd, one of Britain's best known building conservation firms.

30 years of incessant, war... The Russians... Civil War... The Taliban ... The Americans and their allies... Remorseless, incessant, hopeless...

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“Developers threaten the ancient heart of Kabul; the last ustads/ masters of the traditional arts are dying; high unemployment breeds extremism; war and corruption fuels discontent, disillusion and apathy; Afghans want peace, reconciliation, jobs, skills, opportunity... and a renewed pride in their national culture.”

The Turquoise Mountain Project is conserving Murad Khane, a once prosperous quarter of old Kabul.


The TMF works with the community to improve living conditions (considerably...) by providing basic education, health care and sanitation. It restores ancient buildings and builds new in traditonal materials, to create an extraordinarily ambitious Institute of Traditional Islamic Arts and Architectural Crafts to preserve and develop traditional skills.

It conserves heritage, fosters the export market for Afghan goods and lays the foundations for tourism. It trains craftsmen and artists of the highest skills and calibre and gives work to some 350 Afghans at all levels of skill and seniority.

This is a story that offers a different, and rather more hopeful view of Afghanistan than the daily diet of misery we read in our newspapers.

The speaker has been involved since the early days, advising on repairing and adapting Historic Buildings to meet the needs of a working art college

This talk is an account of repairing these buildings, many ruinous thro' extreme neglect or rocket attack... It is a story of fusing traditional and contemporary values, working in the most practical and builderly ways with Afghan Ustads (masters) and developing a rationale for Afghanistan today.

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2010Martin Keeley