Urbanism seeks to monitor the process through which cities and towns develop. In most cities, the architectural elements used in construction give the town originality and identity. Thisis done through unique aspects and details, which in unison create the architectural forms of structures.Additionally, architectural elements create diversity and motivate competition among architects to bring better and admirable expressions in structures. One structure of consideration regarding great and diverse architecture is Herat Citadel. Consequently, this paper will expound on the relationship between an architectural element and its urban context in Afghanistan.
Relationship between an Architectural Element and its Urban Context
First, Herat Citadel is a representation of the history of Herat city (Clark, 2017). It is a representation of the Islamic culture and art derived from many years ago to when it was constructed. Additionally, it is the oldest structure in Herat. The foundation of this structure is believed to be of a fort set by Alexander the Great (Clark, 2017). Over the years, it has served different purposes such as: Prison, centre of power and military camp (Clark, 2017). The reason behind its uniqueness is the fact that it has been able to withstand destructions subjected to it during the different phases of governance while still housing paintings and poetry pieces dated to many centuries ago (Najimi, 2011) . Its magnitude also details the different uses of the 18 towers that it hosts today. Importantly, it was also a business centre where silk trade was done. However, after a long period of neglect, the Aga Khan Trust came to the rescue of Herat Citadel through grants and aid from the U.S and Germany to completely renovate it (CTPR, n.d). Consequently, the renovations would help in creating a modern expression of the ancient structure.
Additionally, the renovated structure has transformed Heart city from a governance city to a historic city that serves different individuals and organizations with information dated to many years ago (CTPR, n.d). Apparently, the National Museum of Heart was constructed in the lower Citadel to ensure that documentation and restoration of artifacts was properly done and displayed for people to see (Clark, 2017). Moreover, the museum houses more than 1100 items from Heart thus attracting many tourists around the world to come and experience the culture and history of Herat City (Clark, 2017). Therefore, the relationship of Heart Citadel and Heart is the fact that through the structure the history of Heart can be well expressed. This structure breeds an idea of a well planned, executed, and finished architectural structure that everyone wants to be identified with. Consequently, many tourists get into the city to experience this architectural wonder, which boosts the economy (Clark, 2017) .
Visual and Narrative Components
Heart Citadel is made up of 18 towers mainly built as administrative points in 330B.C (CTPR, n.d). It was a major asset for many successive rulers of the time for instance: Sasanians, Saffarids, and Seleucids. The structure underwent numerous attacks during the time it served as an administrative centre due to the warring nature of the rulers (CTPR, n.d). As a result it was subjected to many renovation processes to ensure that it was standing firmly. Its location was ideal for many rulers as it led to surveillance of the city in a wide scope. Even though remains of mud walls are still evident, a number of monuments rest on them such as Great Mosque which house samples of the 15th century brickwork (CTPR, 2017) . After it was renovated between 2006 and 2011 through the aid of Aga Khan Trust, it now serves as a centre for political and cultural display through presence of: Tombstone of Behzad, pottery, ancient books and manuscripts, painting miniatures, and a cenotaph dated from 1379 (CTPR, 2017). In addition, the museum is made up of extensive, well-lit, archways of brown brick. Therefore, it has been able to define culture visually and history evidently.
Analytical and Narrative Component
Lynch and Cullen are reputable individuals who did ample research in their profession as architects to delineate the thoughts of conservative architects regarding urbanism (Marling, 2008). Cullen established ‘art of relationship’ in his urban theory. He based a city’s appearance on optics (juxtaposition of the operational eye), place (reactions to points of our body when subjected to the environment), and content (fabrics that made a city) (Marling, 2008). On the other hand, Lynch, through ‘sense of the whole,’ wished to research on the elements that would result to the value-base for great designs (Marling, 2008). He used five elements (landmark, district, path, node, and edge) to bring out apparent clarity and legibility of the town-scope. Consequently, their theories are appreciated by modern day architects as they map architectural worth in urban, thus, creating an important aspect of joining the elements and extracting the relationship that exists between them.
Interestingly, the theories can be best illustrated by the ancient architecture in Afghanistan. Use of landmarks (evident in the archaeological sites) and content has been highly used to ensure that Herat gains popularity in terms of its historic value (CTPR, 2017). As seen in Herat, it is uniquely established to give it identity in such a way that no other structure resembles it, consequently making it a landmark. Besides, as Cullen said, it is important for any architectural element to ensure that a body reacts in a specific manner different from other architectural elements.
In conclusion, great architectural elements last for a long time after construction. Heart Citadel built in 330B.C can still define the history of Heart with full details of the Islamic culture. Its historic value gives its uniqueness and identity and makes it an ideal place for visiting. Additionally, the positive implication of this architectural element is that it contributes to the economy due to the many visitors who visit to learn Afghanistan’s culture. Therefore, architectural elements and urbanism have a worthy relationship.
- Clark, Kate., 2017. The Soul of Herat’s Citadel Comes Home: Reflections on an Exhibition of Miniatures. Afghanistan Analysts Network. Retrieved from www.afghanistan-analysts.org
- CPTR., n.d. Herat: Qal’a-i Ikhtiyar al-Din (Citadel). Retrieved from www.cemml.colostate.edu/
- Marling, G., 2008. Understanding and mapping large city scapes: Metrdological approaches between sociology and urban architecture. Available at citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/ Accessed May 11 2018.
- Najimi, A.W., 2011. Built heritage in Afghanistan: threats, challenges and conservation. International journal of environmental studies, 68(3), pp.343-361.