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05/08/2017

Yemen’s Architectural Heritage in Peril by Professor Trevor Marchand

Emeritus Professor Trevor Marchand of SOAS

The MBI Al Jaber Lecture at the Seminar for Arabian Studies was presented by Emeritus Professor Trevor Marchand of SOAS, at the BP Lecture Theatre at the British Museum. This year's lecture, “Yemen's Architectural Heritage in Peril”, focused on the dangers facing Yemen's internationally famous architecture, including those presented by the current ongoing conflict. Yemen possesses one of the world’s finest treasure-troves of architecture, displaying a wondrous array of vernacular styles. Three of its ancient cities – Shibam, Ṣanaa and Zabid – are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and a number of other towns and building complexes around the country await inclusion on that list. Each urban setting “possesses a distinct “sense of place”, resulting from a mixture of native ingenuity, available construction materials, social relations, religious practices and local histories”.

The large audience, in excess of 250 people, greatly enjoyed Professor Marchand's first-hand knowledge and stunning photographs whilst absorbing some very disturbing facts about the destruction taking place in this war-torn country. Professor Marchand discussed the damage caused by the on-going “hydra-headed” conflict, which “poses a threat of unprecedented scale to the country’s architectural heritage”, as well as focussing on some of the current efforts to safeguard buildings and to sustain conservation programmes. He also talked about other factors that represent perhaps more enduring challenges to the survival of Yemen’s architecture and traditional building practices, for example, people moving from rural areas to towns, new buildings being constructed with unsuitable, non-traditional materials, and the lowering of the water table.

A reception sponsored by the MBI Al Jaber Foundation followed the lecture.

“Yemen's Architectural Heritage in Peril” forms part of a programme of lectures accompanying the exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, “Buildings That Fill My Eye: the architectural heritage of Yemen” (open until 23rd September). The next lecture, “Monuments of Faith and Power: Yemen’s Religious Architecture”, sponsored by Gingko, will be held on 15th September at the Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, and will be presented by Noha Sadek, an independent scholar from Paris.

We look forward to seeing you there!


For further information, please contact:
Director of Public Relations
info@mbifoundation.com

 

 

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