Friday June 09, 2023

Restored historical houses at Chowk Wazir Khan open today

By Ali Raza
June 28, 2021

LAHORE:With the financial assistance of the US Embassy, Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) has restored, conserved and rehabilitated four historical houses situated on the southern side of Chowk Wazir Khan.

The conservation and rehabilitation of the four historic houses cost US $303,318 out of which US Embassy provided funds amounting to US $ 196,776, government of Punjab gave US $ 96,289 and Agha Khan Trust gave US $ 10,073.

Three of the four houses were owned by the Punjab Auqaf Department while one was a private property. The US Consul General will inaugurate the houses today (Monday) in a ceremony. The 17th Century Chowk Wazir Khan is enclosed on the southern side of the Walled City with a series of residential historical buildings. Among these the properties H-686, H-687 and H-1088 owned by the Auqaf Department have high architectural merit.

The Houses H-1088 and H-687 portray the amalgamation of Mughal, Sikh and British styles and successfully demonstrate the transition of early 19th Century tradition of Indian architecture into the British era.

With the use of hand molded tiles in lime mortar constituent of thick load bearing masonry walls and wooden roofing system as the primary structure of the traditional building, H-1088 is the oldest structure from the rest and is estimated to be constructed around mid-19th Century.

These two houses add to the historical value of the urban context of the neighbourhood with the use of a variety of traditional decorative features such as cantilevered carved wooden and wrought iron balconies, Shahnasheen on facades and “Barsati” roof structure.

Before the commencement of the project these houses were found to be in dilapidated condition due to overloading. These properties were not properly taken care of.

The property H-688 is another house which is privately owned. However, it was decided to include it in the project as it is adjacent to H-687 and several interventions were introduced on its façade which was overpowering the surrounding context and adjacent historical houses.

Aga Khan Cultural Service started this conservation and rehabilitation project in August 2019 and completed it in May 2021. This was enabled by the friendly collaboration and partnership of the Walled City of Lahore Authority, who carried out acquisition of the properties and site facilitation.

Generous financial assistance of USD $ 196,776 from the US Embassy made this project possible, said a senior official of WCLA. The conservation project has reclaimed the southern facade of Chowk Wazir Khan through enhancing and improving visual impact of the urban environment.

The project was executed following sequence of activities, demolition of later added structures, structural consolidation of foundations and walls, replacement of deteriorated structural floors/roofing, addition of new spaces, restoration of projected baloneys, decorative architectural features, lime-based finishes, construction of RCC staircase, streetscaping and provision of modern amenities.

The conserved and rehabilitated historic houses are now managed by the Walled City of Lahore Authority. Hundreds of tourists visit the area daily to witness the real Lahore.