Preservation Education Challenge: Establishing Heritage Curricula and Professional Practice in Emerging South Asia Democracies, Pakistan–A Case Study by Robert W. Ogle and William C. S. Remsen, Boston Architectural College
Robert Ogle: Thank you. It’s great to be here and before I get started with my colleague Bill, I would like to really thank Kirk and his staff at NCPTT for hosting this forum and I especially want to thank our current NCPE executive team for really listening to the membership and holding this type of educational forum because that’s what we are, we’re educators. In my 10 years being part of NCPE, this has been a long haul waiting for this to occur so we’re very, very happy that this current group has pulled this together.
What we’re going to talk about today is a relatively new experience for the Boston Architectural College and myself. Not so much so for my colleague Bill which you’ll learn about in a little bit. Before I get too far into our presentation, those of you that have worked with or for or received funding from our state department understand this slide. We are required to disclose their participation in this project. Of course, the American flag must always be represented at the same if not greater than any other logo in any presentation or collateral material et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Here’s to my colleagues at the state department, thank you very much. I imagine that most of you are like me going back about just about a year ago. What I knew about Pakistan was what I saw in CNN, read in the New York Times, saw on PBS or the network news, I now know a lot more. I thought I would start the presentation by sharing with you what Anatol Lieven recently wrote about Pakistan. Pakistan is divided, disorganized, economically backward, corrupt, violent, unjust, often savagely oppressive towards the poor and women and home to extremely dangerous forms of extremism and terrorism.
Yet it moves and in many ways surprisingly tough and resilient as a state and society. It is also quite … Not quite as unequal as it looks from the outside. Now, this sounds like the perfect place to develop a historic preservation program, don’t you agree? However, Anatol is not correct when it comes to access to education and particularly historic preservation education. We believe based on current research that we are the only initiative in the country at the current time to try and develop a historic preservation program.
How did this get started? Last fall, we received an award from the United States State Department to help a mirror institution in Pakistan develop a historic preservation curriculum. This of course was launched in Boston. This is not Pakistan. Let me tell you a little bit about the partners. Serendipitously, the Boston Architectural College and NCA which is the National College of Arts Rawalpindi have strikingly similar histories. The schools are located in urban settings.
Both were founded in the last quarter of the 19th Century to provide skills training as oppose to academic educations. The BAC was formed in 1889 as the Boston Architectural club who’s gentlemen members provided enhance skills training to draftsmen employed in their offices. The Mayo School of Art was established by the British in 1875 to perpetuate indigenous crafts and trades in the Punjab region in Pakistan, not Pakistan then, plus support the needs of the Lahore Museum.
John Lockwood Kipling famous illustrator and father of Rudyard Kipling was appointed the curator of the museum and principal of the school. Over the decades, both schools evolved into accredited degree granting institutions. Mayo School of Art was restructured in 1958 by the government of Pakistan as the National College of Arts. Ironically, the first principal charged with developing the new curricular was American. One of the original of the monuments men of World War II fame. Mark Ritter Sponenburgh transformed the former training school into a contemporary college of design, architecture, and fine art.
In 2005, National College of Arts opened the Rawalpindi campus to provide more geographic access to Pakistan is seeking formal design educations. Boston Architectural Club became the Boston Architectural Center in 1944 to provide architecture education predominantly in the evening for those students needing to work during the day. By 2006, Boston Architectural College had evolved into four schools of design and related disciplines offering baccalaureate and graduate degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, interior architecture, and design studies.
BAC and NCA also shares several common pedagogical philosophies and approaches to learning. First, all baccalaureate students are required to take the same foundation year of study regardless of their chosen program of study. Second, experiential learning and community engagement involvement are woven throughout the respective curriculum. Third, the majority of the faculty maintains academic and practicing professional credentials. These common attributes result in graduates well prepared for careers and design related fields in our respective countries.
If you look at the urban context today of these schools and how they’ve evolved, here’s the image of NCA Rawalpindi’s modernist building set in an urban context of Rawalpindi, the ancient city which had the modern city created from scratch in the 1960’s which is now the national capital of Islamabad. The BAC of course has had its additional architecture added to the portfolio in this brutalist building in a very metropolitan setting of the current day Boston. Here are just some images of how similar the schools are at the outset studio work.
I dare you to tell me whether these are NCA or BAC students or both. I think students are students no matter where you are. Now we have an excellent opportunity to work with our mirror institution. However, there are some caveats to this work. We have two other interested parties which have a lot to do with how we conduct ourselves and what deliverables we produce. In the Pakistani side, we have the Higher Education Commission. You can see us sitting around the table in a high level meeting with them.
Our first trip last fall learning about how much they’re looking forward to developing STEM curricula and putting most of the resources of Pakistan’s government in education toward STEM not much to do with historic preservation. We have of course our own department of state and here’s an image from the US Embassy in Islamabad Public Affairs Section and what’s wrong with this picture? Here we have Bill and myself and trying to be appropriate dressing in native garb and all of the Islamabad Embassy personnel are dressed in western garb so what to do?
Here are the major objectives of this relationship. Number one is curriculum development. Number two is distance learning the Pakistanis need to reach more students in their country which don’t have access now and they’re very backward when it comes to any type of distance learning pedagogy or curriculum. Collaborative research, faculty development, this is critical. The faculty at NCA again are practicing professionals and not educators necessarily.
Faculty and student exchange, we’re expecting the first cohort of Pakistani students and faculty to arrive in Boston this fall and we’ll be taking our first cohort of BAC students to Pakistan in the spring semester and this will continue for semesters to come. Cultural exchange, in objective 7 this is the one that I’m most interested in because the state department has been very generous with their seed funding for this opportunity but they’re expecting at this partnership continues forever basically. Here are some of the strategies that we have identified that will help the partnership continue into the future.
Now, I’m going to turn the mic over to my colleague Bill Remsen. He’s going to talk about one of the really interesting projects that we’ve already got under way with our colleagues.
Bill Remsen: I’m going to talk a little bit about the field school which is the first bullet point on the previous image. This is not your typical conservation project. This is a, this is a tool. This is a mechanism to learn about conservation and the associated design issues. The Sirdar Sujan Singh’s Palace was built in Rawalpindi in the late 19th Century for a very wealthy and influential Sikh merchant family. 27 rooms remain of what was much, a much larger in the estate. Currently, in this image the right hand side has survived but the entire left hand side of the image has been encroached upon by the local squatter housing.
The palace was built of fired brick primarily with additional parts in stone, wood, and iron. It was very richly furnished and they were fine decorated finishes including painted plasters, stained glass, and painted in gilded carved wood. When India was partitioned in 1947, the palace was abandoned as the Sikh has fled to India. The government of Pakistan took over administration of the palace and allowed Muslim refugees coming into India to live there. At one point there are more than 50 individual families living in the palace. You can imagine what that did to it.
The palace was eventually emptied when it was deeded over Fatima Jinnah Women University who still owns it and in 2013, a memorandum of understanding was signed allowing our partnership to establish a field school there. Man of the former refugee families still work as craftsman and living in the surrounding neighborhood. These are a couple of images of posters and brochures that were created during the initial part of our work where we did a structural and health and safety assessment.
We wanted to reach out to the community to make sure that we were managing expectations and fears and to make sure they understood what we we’re trying to do. These were printed up in English and in Urdu handed out at the site and also put on the internet. This is one of our BAC colleagues Sharon Matthews being surrounded by college girls who just would not stop asking her questions. They were much too shy to talk to Bob or me but boy did they talk to her. It’s just wonderful. Anyway, Rawalpindi talk about challenges, talk about historic preservation challenges.
Now, we’ve all seen, we’ve all complained about the classic kinds of problems we might have here in America but in Rawalpindi, you’ve got 2 million plus people no sewers, no storm sewers. You have tremendous electrical problems with outages everyday 4 or 5 hours. Infrastructure, no. Trash pickup, no. You name it, it’s a problem. Walking in towards the Haveli from the main street, the alleys are extremely narrow. You can’t bring any big equipment. No emergency or fire vehicles.
On the right is the image of the front of Haveli. It’s still quite a charming building. Inside, we’ve got a lot of formally grand rooms. They’re really quite beautiful but they’re, they’ve suffered obviously. Now, the field school, I just want to say about a few things about the field school. As I said it’s a tool for teaching and learning about conservation and adaptive reuse and sustainable design in an urban environment. It’s to be a proof of concept for a wide variety of interventions and activities.
It’s also an opportunity to preserve and utilize and present traditional crafts which are still available before they disappear. This is the courtyard of the Haveli. The challenges are quite daunting but many of them can be resolved. I think also we have to be realistic. Some challenges cannot be solved. Encroachment, I’ve already mentioned et cetera, et cetera but we can make a real difference. Here’s a view of the roof that the previous occupants sold off a lot of the metal roofing and drain pipes which you can imagine what that does for the conservation.
The brick details are exquisite. Just waiting to be cleaned and documented and conserved. The interiors were once extremely rich and this is a door on the left going out on to the porch which one had stained glass which was painted white for privacy and the ceilings were, were very often this type of beautiful wood work that was polychromed at one point. There’s painted plaster work and a stone fire place just giving examples of the types of details that remain just waiting, waiting to be exposed and conserved.
There’s cast iron much of which is in pretty good shape actually. In fact, the British firm that provided this in the 19th century still exist so we have some great opportunities for, to resolve the missing pieces. This is an interesting room that is in a bridge that crosses over the street. It must have been sort of their front parlor. It had the highest level of decoration and on the right is just a detail of the ceiling which was must have been actually spectacular when it was in good shape, polychromed and gold leaf.
Anyway, the basic ideas that the field school will allow the students to examine, investigate, document, and get their hands on the full range of conservation problems. Basically, every single type of typical problem that the students would face in this part of the world is available here. With the assistance of visiting experts and local craftsman and local staff, we will be able to give the students the field school, the hands on field school experience where they will literally be able to go from room to room doing various things.
Gradually, piece by piece the building will be revived. Our goal isn’t to finish it. Our goal is to make it a living breathing active site with lots and lots of activity, lots and lots of engagement with the local community. We’re not looking for an end, we’re looking for a process and so we think of this as a great opportunity for both the National College of Arts and the BAC and their students. The future of Pakistan and historic preservation there. Pakistan and its rich cultural heritage face huge challenges.
The Boston Architectural College, National College of Arts partnership will help meet these challenges by improving education and heritage preservation and management in Pakistan. By exchanging Pakistani and US students and faculty and by combining architectural and sustainable design with preservation on practical real world problems, the design and preservation communities in both countries will benefit. With the majority of the population under 24 years of age, ultimately it will be the Pakistanis themselves who will determine the future of their country. They do seem eager to do a good job and we want to do what we can to help them. Thank you.
Pakistan was “created” as the result of the 1947 partition of England’s subcontinent as a safe haven for Muslims away from the inherent conflicts with predominantly Hindu India. Centuries of cultural context were lost to tens of millions of current day Pakistani citizens as a result of their families forced geographic displacement.
In his book Pakistan A Hard Country, Anatol Lieven ,(2011), describes the sixty six year old Islamic Republic of Pakistan as “…divided, disorganized, economically backward, corrupt, violent, unjust, often savagely oppressive towards the poor and women, and home to extremely dangerous forms of extremism and terrorism-and yet it ‘moves’, and is in many ways surprisingly tough and resilient as a state and society. It is also not quite as unequal as it looks from outside.”
Lieven may be correct in his analysis except for the glaring inequality among Pakistanis and their access to education. A country of almost 200 million people (6th largest) spends only 2.1 percent of GDP on education ranking 164th of 174 countries in the world. According to the UNESCO’s 2009 Global Education Digest, 6.3% of Pakistanis (8.9% of males and 3.5% of females) were university graduates as of 2007. This compares to over 49% of Americans with baccalaureate and higher degrees. Pakistan plans to increase this figure to 10% by 2015 and subsequently to 15% by 2020. There is also a great deal of variety between age cohorts. Less than 6% of those in the age cohort 55-64 have a degree, compared to 8% in the 45-54 age cohort, 11% in the 35-44 age cohort and 16% in the age cohort 25-34.
Given the lack of access to higher education and the abundance of historic cultural heritage in need extant in Pakistan, how can historic preservation education be established and compete for scarce educational support when the contemporary governmental education priorities target health, science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates? This paper explores how Boston Architectural College and National College of Arts- Rawalpindi with the assistance of the United States Department of State are approaching solutions to this problem by: 1) expanding the National College of Arts-Rawalpindi’s pedagogical options and curriculum to incorporate formal study and research in architectural heritage conservation and management, including the creation of field school programming; 2) improving the technology capacity of National College of Arts-Rawalpindi to deliver online courses and; 3) furthering the professional development opportunities for their practitioner faculty.