Nottingham Trent University awarded £135,000 research and consultancy bid to help save site

Nottingham Trent University has been awarded a grant to help save a highly distinctive collection of architecture in Oman that boasts a settlement heritage dating back 6,000 years and is now under threat. The university has been awarded a £135,000 research and consultancy bid to aid the continuation of fundamental research into the preservation of the sites.

Architecture professor Soumyen Bandyopadhyay, based in the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, was granted the funding from The Ministry of Heritage and Culture, Sultanate of Oman.

The project will establish ways that the heritage settlements could remain meaningful to present and future generations of Omanis, while looking at their potential as tourist sites for local and international visitors, which will help to generate jobs and income.

Heritage management and development master plans for five vernacular settlements in central Oman - Birkat al Mawz, Izki, Bahla, Ibri and Fanja - will be prepared by Bandyopadhyay and his team of researchers to record the threats and propose sensitive restoration and re-design for the settlements and monuments.

He said: “Human settlements are expressions of culture, social order and political intentions in space. They are tangible representations of historical events and illustrate cultural continuity through the built environment. With Oman’s rich and diverse cultural heritage it is vital to preserve it.

“Fast-paced development has resulted in gradual migration away from vernacular environments into modern towns and cities, and as a result many vernacular settlements are abandoned and falling into disrepair. The funding will enable the project to look at the sensitive and sustainable transformation of historic structures and new interventions.

“By working closely with ministries on the historic settlements, the research will be contributing to transforming the preservation of built and cultural heritage of the Gulf region.”

Bandyopadhyay has been researching heritage sites in the Arabian and Persian Gulf Region for 20 years, where he has also undertaken advisory and consultancy work in urban development, regeneration, architectural and urban design and conservation.