City Centre Revitalization
Samarkand

Project Data
First Prize: International Competition

Client
Aga Khan Institute, Municipality of Samarkand
Design
1991
Program
Cultural centre, park, housing and mixed use
Site area
27 ha



Project overview
In 1990 the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (HCP) assisted the Municipality in organising a competition to re-structure the historic Timurid city centre between the Registan and Timur’s citadel and to repair the effects of Soviet-style centralised planning. This had failed utterly to engage with the complex interaction between the grand scale and splendour of the city’s monuments, the closely knit residential fabric defined by traditional low courtyard houses, and the beauty of the irrigated gardens. A 25ha ‘black hole’ had appeared in the heart of the city – an urban void offering neither park space nor urban functions to the city inhabitants.

Our winning solution showed that residential neighbourhoods can be upgraded without the need for wholesale demolition and inappropriate re-development. We proposed two curving routes that cross the void, re-establishing links between the surrounding neighbourhoods. These routes, bringing movement and social interaction, would provide a catalyst for change and a structure around which new architectural, urban and landscape proposals could develop. The spaces between them could then develop independently as formal gardens, informal parkland, or sites for new residential development.


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