Understanding and Preserving Historic Architecture
In November of last year, six students from Tashkent visited the University of Bamberg for a total of five weeks in order to broaden their knowledge of heritage conservation. They are all students in the Uzbek-German master’s degree programme in Building Preservation and Heritage Conservation which was founded in Tashkent in April. The programme is designed to train architecture graduates in the specialist field of heritage conservation and to give them an opportunity to transfer German know-how to their work in Uzbekistan. The programme focuses on the cities of Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites located on the Silk Road.
So which monuments are deserving of protection, and why? In addition to addressing fundamental theoretical questions, the visit to Bamberg provided students with insights into practical, technical processes. “In Bamberg, we carried out a laboratory analysis of samples from a wall painting in order to identify colouring media,” explains visiting student Muzaffar Agzamov. “By doing so, we were able to determine which materials and pigments had originally been used.”
Lorenz Korn, University of Bamberg professor of Islamic Art and co-initiator of the degree programme, explains just how important these analyses are at the outset of a conservation project. Colour samples can provide crucial information on not only the colours in question, but also on the specific techniques employed in the painting’s creation. “Only those who know all of the specific details of a particular object will be able to preserve it appropriately.”
Hands-on experience in the Bamberg Cathedral
The visiting students were enthusiastic about their time in Bamberg. “We would have liked to have stayed longer. It was so beautiful! The city, the university, the professors – the impressions were all positive. It might sound like an exaggeration, but that’s really how it was,” says Agzamov. In one seminar, the students had the opportunity to take advantage of their location in order to expand their knowledge of one of Bamberg’s major landmarks. Each of them, armed with pens, paper, folding rules and laser measuring devices, produced an architectural survey in the Bamberg Cathedral. To create a survey to be used in the future as an architectural record, a selected portion of the building’s structure is transferred piece by piece to a detailed grid. Muzaffar Agzamov is already anxious to apply his newly acquired knowledge to work in Uzbekistan after completing the programme. To which work exactly? He’s still not sure, “But there is definitely a demand for qualified conservators!”
The master’s degree programme is the result of a cooperative effort involving the Tashkent Architectural Building Institute and the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences, as well as four other German and Uzbek universities (the University of Bamberg, TU Dresden, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, and the Samarkand State Institute of Architecture and Construction). After an initial semester of foundational studies in Tashkent, the Uzbek students were then able to attend seminars together with University of Bamberg students. The six visiting students will spend the second part of their semester abroad in Potsdam. Additionally, six other visiting students are spending the winter semester in Dresden and Weimar.
Lorenz Korn is pleased with the way that the programme has developed thus far. The students have all shown a great deal of commitment to their studies, and their accomplishments have been excellent. “The master’s programme is very successful, but the amount of travel required of the instructors and students also poses some challenges,” acknowledges Korn. Funding for the future of the programme is still a concern; the Volkswagen Foundation is only sponsoring the programme’s pilot phase.
This press release was written by Samira Rosenbaum for the University of Bamberg’s press office. It may be used without restriction for journalistic purposes.
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