ABSTRACT of the discrepancies in promises, visions, and


One of the main arguments for conservation of
historic cores and heritage sites is the

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improvement of social and economic lives of the
local community. However, often this process

of conservation embarks on a discourse that favors
tourism and market led development over the

real challenges to the inhabitants, who are the
living heritage of the place. The state, in its

deployment of various policies, initiatives and
interventions, overlooks the various tangible and

intangible constructs of the urban fabric. This
paper will argue that any intervention for

conservation in historic urban cores should include
the inhabitants as primary beneficiaries and

equal partners, and thereby address the issues they
face directly. I focus on the Walled City of

Lahore as a case study, where a recent collaboration
by the Walled City of Lahore Authority (an

autonomous body under the Government of Pakistan),
World Bank, and Aga Khan Foundation

initiated a series of conservation actions. The
primary method of investigation for this case study

are interviews conducted with the Walled City of
Lahore Authority (government officials), Aga

Khan Foundation, inhabitants of the Walled City and
civil society members of Lahore, along

with ethnographic studies and content review. An
analysis of the discrepancies in promises,

visions, and expectations reveals new grounds to
explore how conservation should work

effectively for development and rehabilitation.



3.4 The City of Lahore.

3.4.1 Geographical.

Lahore is the capital of the province of Punjab and
the second largest city in the country with a present population of nearly 5.0
million. It is located on the east

bank of river Ravi close to the border with India.
The greater metropolitan area of

Lahore covers nearly 170,000 hectares on a flat
alluvial plan at 750 feet above sea

level (Map 3.1).

3.4.2 Historical Urban Developments.

Lahore is an ancient city, with a history dating
back to the fourth or fifth

century. Starting from a fort on the bank of the
river, it turned into a fortified city

under the Afghans and the Turks in the eleventh and
twelfth centuries. The major

contribution to the city was made by the Moguls
during their reign starting from 1526

AD onward. Later Persian invasions by Nadir Shah and
Ahmed Shah Abdali in the

eighteen and nineteen century destroyed the city,
which was later followed by half a

century of warfare between the Sikh tribes.

Lahore was occupied by the British in 1849 and this
continued till 1947 when

the British left the subcontinent. During this time
the fortified walls were demolished,

the surrounding moat was filled and turned into a
green belt. This has served to

separate the Walled City from the settlements which
had developed around it and are

not too different from the Old City in density,
urban features and characters. The

Walled City occupies an area of about one square
mile and has a population of

260,000. It is a highly congested area with an
average density of 1100 people per

hectare as compared to 160 people per hectare in the
rest of the metropolis. Houses

are densely packed into tiny plots of an average
size of 40 sq. yards each, rising to

three or four storeys. More than half of these
dwellings are occupied by a single household, a quarter contain two households,
while the remaining have three or more.

The major physical contributions to the city by the
British included, the

development of, the Cantonment (military station)
and the civil secretariat

(administrative), both connected by a thoroughfare.
Major institutions were also

established along this route such as the High Court,
Assembly Chambers, the Punjab

University and Civil Lines (government officers
residences for the British

administrative personnel) all of these are present
even today. Commercial development

took place along this route which served the needs
of the colonial and the upper

class.The area between the Old Walled City and the
British developments was filled

with indigenous settlements resembling the character
of old city but on a smaller and

looser scale. Later British residential areas were
also fringed by residential areas

occupied by local elites. These imitated the
colonial style with a local blend. The most

prominent example of which is “Model
Town”, a low density residential settlement

built on Ebenzer Howard’s garden city concept. This
was nearly 10 kilometres south

of the British administrative centre and buüt as a
self contained settlement, but has

now been surrounded by the rapid growth of the city.

Since independence in 1947 most of the expansion has
been along the southern

axis where a number of large and low-density upper
and middle income settlements

have been laid in a leap-frogging pattern, leaving
intervening areas empty. These were

then often filled by unapproved development of
varying standards and income

patterns. Large areas of unauthorized low-income
residential and mixed use developments have also grown along the northern and
eastern axis, within the

protection of the river bund (flood protection




and Marginalization in the Colonial Era

quality was again affected by another empire, which had yet to mark its presence

landscape. Not long after Sikh rule ended, the British established dominion
over the

Contrary to the previous experiences where armies and rulers would either

beautify the city, the colonial approach to cities was different. As a
practice, it operated “at the

of knowledge and material culture, its operations were highly dispersed,

heterogeneous in historical and geographical terms” (Legg, 2007: 41). The
British sought to

new modes of planning and being for the physical and social milieu, in their
vision inspired

western and “rational” notions of urban space.


New colonial buildings were all built in the Civil
Lines (See Map B below). As with

other cities in the subcontinent, the Civil Lines
was analogous to British suburbs, “characterized

by low-density, horizontal, single-story
development, and broad tree lined roads which gave

access to a system of large compounds, each
containing a roughly centrally sited bungalow”

(Qadeer, 1983: 180). This model is important to
understand how in the colonial world order,

alternate town planning schemes were put in place.
In the traditional order of things, the same

piece of land was multi-functional, but now land use
was segregated and confined to specific

use, whether residential, commercial, official, or
military. Areas and sites were standardized in

design, housing blocks were clustered by social
rank, and transportation modes were all ordered

under a new system (Qadeer, 1983: 180). Map C below
illustrates the notions of rectangular,

clearly demarcated areas. This begets the question
why did the British opt to from scratch,

instead of applying new urban planning strategies to
the incumbent historic core.