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Report: Eng. Ali Ajlan

Urban and architectural heritage is one of the most important engines of development in society and a guide to its intellectual, cultural and historical achievements. There is no doubt that urban heritage with its historical, aesthetic and cultural aspects is a source of inspiration from which generations derive their culture and characteristics, derive their identity and reinforce it. It is preciousness and irreplaceable asset.

The heritage of our dear country is rich in a diverse architectural and urban heritage that belongs to various eras and civilizations. This heritage represents its cultural and historical heritage, which emphasizes its role in building human culture and civilization. A number of heritage and urban sites have been included in the world heritage list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Kingdom, like other countries in the urban heritage, has been preserved and qualified.

Based on the cooperation between the World Center for Research, History and Arts (IRISICA) and the Heritage Foundation, which is chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, and his keenness and interest on architectural and urban heritage, and his belief in the need to preserve and protect it and defining its cultural, architectural and cultural value, and drawing inspiration from it. A training program was held on the maintenance and rehabilitation of buildings in the historical areas of Asir, in the province of Al-Namas and neighboring villages, especially since the southern region boasts a diversified architectural and urban heritage.

The program targeted a number of students of college of Architecture and Planning from the departments of architecture and building sciences and urban planning. It was implemented during the summer semester 1438-1439, with the generous support and blessing of the university administration represented by its rector Prof. Badran Al-Omar.

During the program, which lasted for ten from Saturday 15/10/1439 to Sunday 25/10/1439, the program consists of two main components: theoretical lectures and field workshops held in historical sites. The theoretical lectures were given by a group of experts and academics specialized in conservation, restoration and modern technologies, "3D scanning". On the first day the students visited Al-Namas accompanied by Mr. Mohammed Al-Asbali - Director of National Tourism and Heritage Authority Office - The purpose of the visit to identify the province, and its historical and archaeological palaces, the archaeological palace like Tharban, the historic village of Nayeh and the village of Sid Ayad, Where the students learned about the "local" building materials used in the construction of houses and palaces, including the juniper and acacia, which is characterized by the region and is available in most of its areas, as well as the stone, which is used in construction. Wood and stone are the two main components of the construction in Al-Namas and its villages. Students also learn the ancient construction methods of architectural formation, how to deal with the external and internal finishes of these buildings. the cat Asiri craft was also recognized and recorded by the UNESCO World Heritage List of the Intangible. Students also visited Al-Namas Museum, one of the main museums in the Kingdom. It contains about 1500 different antiques and some rock carvings dating back to ancient times, including Thamudic inscriptions and other Islamic dating back to the third Hijri century. The museum is located within a heritage building representing one of the seven palaces , Which is located in the historic district of the province.

On the second day, Dr. Osama Mohammed Al-Jawhari, General Secretary of the Charity Heritage Foundation, teaching staff at the college, the training program team and the students visited Al-Namas, Mr. Abdullah Aa'ed Al-Ajiri, Governor of Al- Namas, Where he briefed on the program of the training course that will be provided to the trainee students and their axes and schedule. Dr. Al-Juhari spoke about the activities and initiatives of the Heritage Foundation in preserving the national urban heritage. He expressed his admiration for the great efforts made by the Foundation in preserving and qualifying the national urban heritage. He also thanked King Saud University to provide the opportunity for students of architecture and planning to join such important courses, which contribute to the establishment and production of architectural cadres that will undoubtedly contribute to the preservation of the legacy of beautiful architecture to remain at its best. At the end of the visit, the team of the training program and the students thanked and appreciated the Governor for his good reception and his support for the conservation and rehabilitation efforts of the heritage of Al-Nemas and its ancient villages.

This was followed by a visit from the program team and students to the Mayor of Al-Namas, Eng. Yehia Mohammed Al Qahtani, who was briefed on the course and the efforts of Heritage Foundation. Subsequently, there was extensive discussion on the heritage of Al-Namas and its importance, and the efforts undertaken by the municipality to contribute to maintain it. At the end of the meeting through the mayor expressed his pleasure to organize such an important specialized scientific courses, and also express his thanks to the sponsors. He then gave a guiding speech to the students urging them to be serious and persevering in learning, and then joining the work both in the governmental sector such as the municipalities or the private sector to serve the country and the community, and to contribute to achieve the vision of the Kingdom in the engineering and urban sector in particular, including that the Kingdom is a pioneer in the preservation and rehabilitation of the legacy of urban and civilization, and then the team completed the visit to the rest of the historical district and heritage buildings.

On the following day, the first workshop was started. Students received theoretical lectures delivered by Dr. Osama Al-Gohary, Associate Professor of Architecture and Building Sciences. The lecture addressed the importance of architectural and urban heritage and the methods of preserving it and how to conduct surveys, analysis, evaluation and maintenance. The students then participated with the program team in selecting the courses to be applied in the accompanying workshops.

The second workshop was followed by an applied lecture delivered by Dr. Sameh Abbas, Associate Professor and Restoration and Conservation Specialist at the Heritage Foundation. The lecture reviewed methods of restoring ancient buildings and how to study structural, environmental, historical and documentation. Hence, the main reasons for the deterioration of historical and archaeological buildings were discussed whether they are construction or biology. The students applied the selected cases from the historical neighborhood "Qasr Abes" as well as from the traditional village of Halba, in addition to the Saroo Mosque. The required studies were conducted on these cases, documented, monitored and recorded the most important reasons for their deterioration.

The workshop was followed by a workshop on how to deal with heritage sites prior to the renovation, or preservation work. A lecture on the basics of dealing with heritage sites was delivered by Eng. Salim Al-Karbi, conservation and rehabilitation expert at the National Urban Heritage Center. In which he addressed the conservation and rehabilitation movements and the role of international conventions in the preservation of urban heritage, methods and foundations of preservation and general standards to deal with heritage sites, and the steps of the correct restoration, and the workshop was concluded with a presentation and explanation of the restoration work that took place in the historic palace of Tharban on reality, starting with the idea of preservation and composing the team, and doing surveys and studies needed in all stages and highlighted the problems and obstacles, and then the completion of the restoration plan and implementation.

" The urban heritage in the south of the Kingdom is diverse and rich" was the focus of the fifth workshop, where Dr. Mohsen Al-Qarni, conservation and restoration expert at the National Urban Heritage Center, gave a lecture on the characteristics of the urban heritage in the North, South, East, Central and Western Kingdom, indicating the most prominent features of the formal and planning and architectural vocabulary, and reviewed the great diversity that pervades each of these areas, with the presentation of models of architectural and urban projects from all regions. The workshop ended with an extensive discussion session with the trainees that focused on the characteristics of the urban heritage and its vocabulary, and it was shaped in accordance with the characteristics of the surrounding environment, the factors affecting it, and affected by the heritage and in accordance with humanitarian needs.

As the revolution of information, techniques and uses plays an important and effective role in the conservation and rehabilitation of historical buildings, in addition to its use in the documentation process, the sixth workshop was implemented. The workshop dealt with practical lectures for students on how to use the “3D Laser Scanning Photogrammetry & Molding”, The latest tools that analyze the elements of the physical environment, and the collection of spatial and physical information related to the shape and appearance of the element, so that the collected information is used for the purpose of building a three-dimensional digital, and this is done by the formation of a cloud of coordinates for engineering coordinates (XYZ) to those elements documented by shedding laser radiation towards it in a pulse or continuous, which is the main and typical stage in this technique, through which the formation of digital models of the original element can be edited and added, and the positioning of three-dimensional spatial location of each point is scanned through the coordinates of spherical comprehensive, According to a local coordinate system The workshop concluded that the students will train on the laser scanner and how to use it in the field of documentation and surveying, so that it will be used in the study cases that students will work on the restoration and maintenance.

On the other hand, the team of the training program and the students carried out field applications, including field visits to the Heritage village of Al-Alian, which is one of the oldest villages in the region, due to its historical importance since the entry of Islam to it, where the effects indicate the existence of the village in pre-Islam, Therefore, it has undertaken individual initiatives to preserve it, and was seen by the students and the team on one of these initiatives, including the establishment of one of its residents to create a museum containing the physical heritage of all kinds.

It was explained to the students in the site practically by the owner of the initiative on how the process of construction in the village in the past, from the collection of stones, to collect wood, and the processing of foundations, and the completion of construction, noting the existence of five specializations in the construction process from the beginning to the end of, each specialist has roles and tasks assigned to him, and achieve each of them integrated with the other to appear like a cohesive building and realized the needs of its inhabitants.

At the end of the training program, the students presented a presentation in the presence of the director of National Tourism and Heritage Authority in Al-Namas and the training program team. The presentation included a detailed review of the lectures and workshops. The students then explained the studies that were carried out throughout the training program, Through the three-dimensional laser scanner for architectural designs, facades and cross-sections, and then the presentation of the most important findings of historical, archaeological and environmental studies, in addition to the structural studies through the study of soil with sensors and bizometers, The structural state through the tests of building materials and  foundations, to diagnose the current situation of these cases, and to identify the deterioration of the causes and the reasons, and the classification of architectural, aesthetic, structural and environmental problems, and then the completion to develop a vision of the proposed restoration plan of soil, foundations, walls, and roofs, with considerations needed in the process of restoration and preservation of each element of construction, followed by the students explanation of the alternatives of rehabilitation and use of those cases after the restoration process through the proposal of a total of uses and compare them through the four-way analysis (SWOT) within the framework of conventions relating to the preservation, maintenance, restoration and rehabilitation of heritage buildings.

At the end of the presentation, the trainees presented their thanks and appreciation to His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman for adoption and support of such training programs related to the conservation and rehabilitation of urban heritage. They also extended their gratitude to Prof. Badran Al Omar, rector of KSU and Dr. Abdullah Ahmed Al-Thabet dean of the College to provide them with opportunity, attention and care, stressing their keenness to be a constructive factor in this country and provide it with precious and generous, expressing their satisfaction with the lectures, workshops and field applied visits For the preservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings. We hope that such useful training programs will continue. The students also thanked Dr. Fahd Saud Allhaim, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and the Program team for their efforts.

On the other hand, Director of National Tourism and Heritage Authority praised Prof. Mohammed Al-Asbli for the excellent level presented by the trainees and the good ideas that reflect what they learned during the training program and were used in the case studies. "What you have presented today is the harvest of ten days of training from your efforts. I congratulate you on what you have done, and the university has the right to be proud of your ideals. “The program team added that the ideas put forward by the students and included in the presentation were all different, distinctive and realistic.

In this regard, Dr. Abdullah Ahmed Al-Thabet, Dean of the College, said that there is no doubt that attention to preservation of urban heritage is the most important engine for achieving economic development of the country through local communities and reflects an aspect of national identity. The monuments of the heritage embodied in the historical buildings testify to the embodiment of the nations’ history and heritage of nations in all its historical, architectural and aesthetic dimensions, from which the societies draw their culture and identity.

He added that our dear homeland possesses countless historical landmarks in all its regions, whether material or non-material, which is in fact an invaluable and irreplaceable wealth, we as specialists must strive as much as we can to maintain them, and We make it a priority in the educational process, architectural and urban, especially in the light of technological development and its impact on all aspects of our lives, especially the urban aspect.

At the same time, he praised the great efforts exerted by the Prince of Heritage, His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Salman, to preserve the Kingdom's heritage and establish it as a charitable heritage institution. He also decided to adopt such training programs every year for students of architecture and planning colleges in Saudi universities which contributed significantly to provide them with knowledge, concepts and foundations of preservation, rehabilitation and restoration in all theoretical and applied aspects, and helped to refine their skills and potential, and raise their knowledge. His Highness also supported research, architectural and urban design projects and urban heritage conferences that deal with urban heritage and focus on them, wishing him success in his new duties.

He also valued the support of the KSU rector for providing facilities, support and follow-up to the participation of the college students in such specialized programs. "It is not unusual for him to pay attention to outstanding students and his keenness to participate in programs that earn them the skills, knowledge and concepts that qualify them to serve their country."

At the end of his speech, he urged the trainees to transfer the skills and experience they gained through the program to their colleagues in the college. He also praised the efforts of those who worked on this distinguished program.

The students were accompanied by Eng. Ali Ajlan, head of the field training unit.