Congratulations to one of our 2022 grantees!

We are thrilled to fund Dr Ignacio Arce of the Madrid School of Architecture, Spain. So what is the project?

The project will thoroughly analyse architectural material from Qastal al Balqa. Excitingly, it seems to have been built from the remains of a Roman fort and a Christian monastery, and its history of occupation stretches right up to the Ottoman period. It is a stunning work of early Islamic architecture.

Tragically, much of the site was damaged by the construction of a concrete building in the 1980s. Looters have progressively stolen much of the remaining material. It is vital that efforts are made to prevent further damage to remaining Umayyad architecture; a beautiful, important, and endangered part of Islamic heritage.

This project will help preserve the site from further degradation and strengthen public appreciation for sites like this one. The meticulous analysis of the complex will be used for the eventual reconstruction of parts of the site, breathing life back into Qastal al Balqa. This important research will also contribute towards the creation of engaging, informative displays; among them, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality exhibits will use exciting modern technology to show what delightful historic architecture would have looked like.

These steps will place Qastal al Balqa firmly on the tourist trail, as it deserves. Only 15km from Amman, Jordan, it offers wonderful potential to inform and inspire a wide range of audiences about the wonders of the Umayyad world and the dawn of Islamic art. This boosted heritage tourism will provide excellent financial benefits for the local community, and the restoration of the site will help these communities to feel connected to their own heritage.

The project will also be used as field workshop for Masters students on the Architectural Conservation programme at the German-Jordanian University in Jordan. It will offer them a unique opportunity to participate in all the stages required in a conservation research project, from the documentation to the presentation of the site. It is essential that fieldwork like this is available to such students, so that in future Jordan’s heritage can be protected by capable and qualified professionals.

Congratulations Ignacio! We very much look forward to seeing this project develop.