Three historic houses to be restored in Wazir Khan Square


–WCLA takes restoration of at least a century old structures with AKCSP’s technical assistance

–Mulls turning houses into museum, coffee houses or library after successful restoration

LAHORE: The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA), with the technical assistance of Aga Khan Trust for Culture Services Pakistan (AKCSP), has taken up the restoration of three historic houses located south of the Wazir Khan Mosque Square, which will be completed by December 2019.

As per the details, the structures were the property of the Punjab Auqaf Department and were leased to other people until acquired by WCLA by paying Rs32 million as compensation.

“It was an uphill task to get the properties vacated and we had to pay a huge compensation amount to acquire those properties as families were residing in them. Auqaf Department was also supportive in this process and it was important to do so in order to give the Wazir Khan Square its original feel back. The social mobilisation wing of WCLA has also played a vital role in this,” an official told Pakistan Today.

They added that a few properties were resting on the wall of the Wazir Khan Mosque and were a threat to the mosque’s structure. “All such constructions will be removed whereas the old ones, after being restored, would add a unique feature to the Wazir Khan Square which was recently conserved by WCLA and AKCSP.”

An AKSCSP official told the houses were at least 100 to 150 years old and had an antique architecture as well as stunning woodwork carried out within. “We are starting to restore the structures as their beauty has faded away over the years,” the official said while talking to this scribe.

“I am a frequent visitor of the old city and feel depressed to witness the poor conditions of the ages-old havelis and houses here. I was crossing this chowk when noticed scaffolding being erected around the houses. So glad to see these beautiful structures of the past being restored,” said Azam Saeed, a tourist visiting the Royal Trail.

Restoration will surely give a neater look to the place, he said and lauded WCLA for removing the blacksmiths who had occupied a section of one of the heritage structure.

AKCSP senior architect and consultant Rashid Makhdum said, “One of the houses is some 125 years old and its interior includes remarkable woodwork. We will be restoring it to the fullest of our capabilities while making efforts to return the structure its lost beauty.”

The house resting on one of the walls of the mosque will be removed as well so that the structure of the mosque is not damaged, he said.

“We have started the documentation of the three houses and are using laser scanners as well as electronic distance measuring machines for accurate structure and damage details. We will be consolidating the structure and reviving the old features of the houses,” Makhdum added.

WCLA Conservation and Planning Director Najam Saquib told Pakistan Today that the restoration of the structures was important to bring harmony in the design and shape of the Wazir Khan Square.

“We are also working on the adaptive re-use of these houses and reviewing proposals of turning them into coffee houses, museum or library. Once these houses are restored, they will provide a world-class sitting place for the tourists as so far there are no proper sitting or resting places on the Royal Trail. An estimated amount of Rs20 million would be used for restoring these three houses as there is a lot of intricate work of conservation and restoration involved.”