The former Darb Shoughlan School, an early twentieth-century apartment building facing the historic Ayyubid Wall, later converted into a school, is the first major rehabilitation project to be completed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in the Darb al-Ahmar district. The building re-use programme was based on the former school's close proximity to the Historic Wall and Al Azhar Park, as well as its potential, given its location and size, to serve the community. This led to the idea of adapting this large structure into a combination community facility, visitor centre and office space. A reception and exhibition area and a rooftop with views of the Park and the Citadel will accommodate visitors, while recreational as well as family, educational and community services are to be housed in other parts of the building. The former school also houses a library for children, a media centre and accompanying outdoor activity areas on the ground floor. The new facility, named the Darb al-Ahmar Community Centre, is the first of its kind in the area, and will introduce much needed cultural and social activities in a context that sorely lacks public facilities. The rehabilitation of the building was carried out using traditional construction techniques and drawing on local skills, thus providing an opportunity to revive traditional crafts still available in Darb al-Ahmar, including tile-making, wrought iron work, plasterwork and cabinet-making. The project was also a vehicle to promote local employment and training in restoration and traditional construction. The decoration and the traditional construction details, although not all original, are based on examples found on Darb al-Ahmar buildings built during the same period. The furniture was designed especially for the building and made in the carpentry workshop and training centre established in the framework of the Darb al-Ahmar project.
Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture