Through this commitment, Daw'an Architecture Foundation will develop human crafts, skills, and technical knowledge as well as material resources - including natural local building materials of mud brick, stone, shale, wood, and lime plaster - to assist with the architectural rehabilitation of the magnificent local building tradition and associated hand crafts in Yemen. Additionally, Daw'an Foundation will rebuild neglected irrigation networks (channels and cisterns) to revive and resuscitate the region's ecosystem and agriculture, especially date palm plantations that line the heart of the wadi bordering the villages.
Collaborating with Yemeni and Hadrami building disciplines, the Foundation's work will foster and disseminate sophisticated building technology and design knowledge, as well as consolidate the associated crafts. This is crucial to ensure the continuity of such a unique environment and cultural landscape, to remain an inspiration for future generations, and to challenge creativity in current projects. Training programs will be set up for developing design and building skills with earth materials. This includes the construction of walls, domes and vaults, making mud brick, and working with different types of stone, shale, and plaster. Training courses, which particularly attract university students, architects, and visiting students from abroad, are carried out with practice in real buildings (in new construction, rehabilitation, and renovation sites).
The processes involved in the execution of this commitment will fully engage the community, which still has the experience and expertise to recreate the eco-balance in the environment and to rebuild confidence in the community of generating their own livelihood. Daw'an Foundation is evaluating the incentives it can provide to encourage inhabitants to invest in the urban fabric and environment. The challenge lies in attracting their interest and participation. This is currently secured, in part, by providing work opportunities, and through implementing public projects that have a direct impact. Developing the community initiatives is a priority in order to provide support and assure the continuity of the commitment. The Foundation's sites, projects, and workshops are alive and open to members of each community and locale to witness, participate in, benefit, and learn from.
The Foundation will start its work by sourcing funding from and connecting with financial institutions to secure sponsoring for immediate and urgent earmarked projects. The yearly working budget is expected to be in the range of US$ 500,000-750,000. Available funds will determine the timeline and specific dates.
Time Frame & Specific Dates
12/1/2012 - 5/31/2013 Develop site work & Training Program Phase I
6/1/2013 - 9/30/2013 Summer Seasons & Ramadan: Office Base - reporting, documentation, research, and evaluation of site projects
10/1/2013 - 12/30/2013 Resume site work & Site Training Program Phase II (building work for students and visiting architects)
1/1/2014 - 12/30/2014 Continuation of the same program for site and training (same as above)
2/20/2014 - 2/28/2014 International Seminar & Workshop on Earth Architecture
Training programs will be set up for international students and architects on earth building techniques. International architects who have shown interest in working with the Daw'an Architecture Foundation will be invited to design new buildings in earth materials, create workshops, and participate in training on site. Other regional and international institutions and organizations will be invited to engage with the Foundation and provide technical assistance.
The work of the Foundation will be publicized internationally to draw attention to the importance of the mission and to encourage support from international heritage, cultural, and professional agencies and organizations (e.g., UNESCO, World Monuments Fund, AIA, etc.). Daw'an Foundation hopes to spread international awareness of the importance of sustainable architecture projects for the future development of urban and rural regions around the world. Other countries can learn and benefit from the Hadrami experience to help in building and regenerating their own urban, rural, and, vernacular communities.
Throughout Hadramut region in Yemen, there is dilapidation of, and disregard for, hundreds of towns and villages and the neglect of the urban culture and environmental assets that distinguish the region. There is great need to rehabilitate and revive existing irrigation systems, water channels, and cisterns to improve the communities' economic livelihood. Access to these water resources will resuscitate date plantations, trees, farming, and agriculture, thereby producing staple grains, fruit, and vegetables, all of which are imported now due to the neglect of agricultural land.
The Hadrami community of Daw'an is mostly rural, Bedouin, or tribal in origin, and their income mainly comes from grazing their livestock (goats and camels), farming, and selling handicrafts. Men work as builders, make honey, and help in farming; women work inside the homes, graze goats across the fields, and help with farming. Due to its good quality, Daw'an honey is one of the most expensive and sought after honeys in the region. Hadramis, in general, were established traders who travelled and settled far and wide for that reason. Local products are sold in weekly transient markets, while imported merchandise and small businesses are set up in larger markets and shops in the town centers.
There is significant destruction of traditional earth buildings due to abandonment, and many original public architecture structures (e.g. historic mosques and water fountains) have been torn down and subsequently reconstructed with poor design. This cycle of tearing down and rebuilding public architecture has spurred a trend in constructing mediocre structures (made of concrete) that are visually disturbing to the landscape and unsuitable ecologically and climatically.
One of the largest and most significant issues is the absence of a municipal authority to enforce building codes and to protect and restore the valuable architecture and urban fabric. There is also a significant lack of funds to invest in community development projects and their upkeep or to educate the community of the importance of maintaining their urban culture and skills. Additionally, there is an absence of any cultural centers, libraries, and activities to engage the youth, girls, and women (especially who have dropped out of school or have no schooling) in any learning pursuit.
Further, the construction of schools, public buildings, and facilities, copying regional styles of the Gulf countries (branded as 'modern'), is inferior architecturally and contributes to the disintegration of the community's urban integrity, social integration, and cultural environment.
There is a lack of interest amongst wealthy owners living abroad to participate in funding the legacy and wealth of their own elders. Instead they are investing in constructing new schools, hospitals, or public buildings, unaware of the damage they are causing by using commercial developers and contractors who are ignorant of their own region's building materials, resources, and design skills.
The success of Daw'an Architecture Foundation in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of a number of significant sites in Hadramut over 2008-2011, and receiving the Global Award Sustainable Architecture 2012, has provided new impetus for the Foundation. This strongly qualifies the Foundation to address the issues presented in the commitment and to spearhead such projects; however, a new strategy is required to attract funding and support from international and regional agencies. This new strategy will encourage the participation of the inhabitants, and those who live abroad, to assist in the process of reaching the financial target, which will ensure the economic continuity and viability of the commitment.