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Edinburgh World Heritage/International/Raising the bar: Creating a Buildings at Risk Register for South East Anatolia

Raising the bar: Creating a Buildings at Risk Register for South East Anatolia

Neil Ogilvy

9th August 2019

Neil Ogilvy

As part of our KORU project we are developing a Buildings at Risk Register, or BARR, for the two cities we are working in, Mardin and Antakya. This complements the other capacity building projects we are running in the region, including providing training and implementing a restoration lab in Mardin. We have written a few blog posts about these, so if you haven’t already have a look at them here.

Our BARR takes inspiration from two UK-based registers run by Historic Environment Scotland and Historic England. The idea behind it is to create a database that shows the current state of historic buildings in the city deemed to be at risk, as a result of disrepair or vacancy. This is particularly useful for the likes of city planners, heritage managers and architects, as well as the general public. They can be used to improve forward planning and indicate where action needs to be taken. In Mardin, the issue of vacant buildings is particularly critical as the historic centre has seen a significant depopulation as people have steadily moved to newly built districts of the city. This is a matter we are looking to assist the local authority with tackling.

In the last few months the work on our register has been moving along at a good pace. Efecan Tirelioğlu joined the team in Turkey as a dedicated BARR officer to boost delivery of the project and he has really pushed the project on.

GIS map of Mardin, showing the buildings at risk (May 2019).

In November 2018, five members of Edinburgh World Heritage staff undertook training in a mapping software called QGIS, in order to get to grips with the best ways to display the BARR data. Following that, in January and February 2019, Efecan trained a group of eight local students in heritage values, how to create records of the impact of damage and decay on the buildings, how to carry out analysis to reduce risk to the buildings, and how the Buildings at Risk Register works for Mardin.

The students were then given field exercises to get to grips with the technology used to gather information and data about the buildings. Braving some cold and damp weather over the next week, the students then undertook an initial survey of Mardin, which covered a very impressive 792 buildings in the historic city centre. This has since risen to 987.

Students carrying out a building survey in Mardin.

Efecan commented; “It was great to see the change of depth in the questions that were asked by the students every day. At some point, we were discussing the effects of use and occupancy, the additional structures and if they pose a threat, and how mathematics and matrices could be used in urban analysis. The preparation for the camp started with a pre-work exercise for the students to get familiar with [an industry standard app]. On the last day, Ömer Hakseven, an architecture final-year student, said ‘I was expecting a project that is similar to the first exercise, which was quite simple and didn’t have any details. But now I feel like I have a better connection to the city, and the buildings.’”

Students in Mardin getting to grips with building surveying.

Work has now begun on analysing the data gathered in order to put it into a manageable and presentable format. Following the good practice in Mardin, we will now work with a new group of students in Antakya, where the students will be trained and undertake fieldwork surveys as part of our next summer camp in September 2019.