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Kosuke Matsubara


Faculty of Engineering, Information and Systems, Urban Planning Studies, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8577, Japan


Historic cities are cultural achievements that are gradually created by inhabitants over the centuries. In developed countries, the conservation of historic cities seems to be generally acknowledged as a method of community development that does not depend on huge exploitation. On the other hand, no sufficient countermeasures have been taken in developing countries because most native stakeholders are still interested in development. Here the author could focus on so-called “international cooperation”, but urban conservation for historic cities where inhabitants actually live is still a minor consideration except for some government-based conservation projects for monuments and isolated examples of cultural heritage. In this paper, the example was taken of a conservation project which has been carried out by JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency) in Damascus, the old capital of Syria. The target area for the project is “Qanawat South”. Although the origin of “Qanawat South” dates back to the Roman age, efforts for urban conservation have not been well organized, partly because the area is located outside of the so-called old city registered as a world heritage site. For example, the master plan of 1968 indicated the redistribution of the traditional quarters, while some conservation laws have been restricting the regeneration of the area. Moreover, there is not yet any consensus among the stakeholders concerning the historical value of the quarter, they are still questioning why the area should be conserved rather than being freely sold or developed and what and how they should contribute to conservation. Based on analysis of the actual situation of Qasr al-Hajjaj Street, this paper examines a method called “restoration-type” facade improvement adopted by JICA, for which the final goal is not only to maintain the appearance of the street but also to activate the life of the habitants of the street.


JICA, Gyoji Banshoya, Damascus, facade improvement, architectural vocabulary.

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