University College of London (UCL) architect students are here in Eritrea on an expedition to learn about and know Asmara from an architectural stand point. Asmara’s historical enlisting in the UNESCO World Heritage is attracting many professionals of serval fields, tourists of a varied age and journalists. Asmara’s rare loveliness is finally getting the ‘external’ attention it deserves. But more than ever, having these young architects explore its veiled splendor, is now giving pleasure to its inhabitants. No surprise in it, as the Eritrean people are known for their generosity. The project goes beyond getting ready for educational portfolios to creating a link between the students and the Asmara Heritage Project Team. Wishing the young students further success in their educational and professional venture, Q&A introduces to you today some of the partakers, their impressions and opinions regarding their experience as members of the project.
- -Ian Richards, HM Ambassador of the British Embassy to Eritrea
This is all related to the Asmara Heritage Project. We were all excited by the award of the UNESCO which is a tribute to the hard work of the heritage project team here in Asmara. It is also a great pleasure for the British professor, Edward Edison, who has been working closely on this project with the Asmara Heritage team for so many years. Bringing architect students from the UCL to Asmara to do some research and to work with the heritage project team for a week is also one of his many ideas after the UNESCO award, which I think is very interesting. And I think that the students are having a great time and learning a lot. They are impressed about Asmara, so much so, some of them have already started to get in to the details and on the projects of designed proposals. I hope that they will be so impressed and enjoy Asmara for them to want to come back to write a thesis or present a paper and spend some more time with the people at the heritage project. The students are very delighted to be here and the team of the heritage project have made them very welcome.
I would like to remind Eritreans to be proud of the heritage of their city. It really is an exceptional city, I am saying that not only because I am living here but I have travelled quite a lot and this is the third country in Africa where I have worked in and I would say that there is nothing like Asmara in Africa. You should all value it and realize how important it can be for the future not only the city but the country. It has huge potential for attracting tourists, which can be an opportunity for creating employment for young Eritreans. I say it is important that they learn the skills of preservations of the building in a much sensitive way with the way that UNESCO would like to see things done and that is great opportunity for young Eritreans to learn new skills and create a new career with the heritage of the city.
- -Gu Long Hua, MA Student
I am from china and I have worked as a professional architect in China for about four years. Additionally I went to get my MA in Uk and that is how I am here. I think that it is a special city with a unique history and people.
Regarding its architecture and landscape, it is a place filled with a much deeper history. It is such an opportunity and we want to explore much about this great city; about its culture and its buildings. We are very happy to be here.
This city has indeed met my expectations as we have heard so much about it. The city is an outcome of combined ideas and work of the local engineers and the Italians. I was curious to see the city and now that I have I want to know more about its people. It is an opportunity where we get to share our experiences and I think it is good to build a good communications bridge between the students of the university and the local architects for the future.
In China we have a similar situation where we have many treasured places we show respect to. And I hope that the Eritrean people would respect their city and history for the future.
- -Niha Fatima, MA Student
It has been a great opportunity honestly. It has been a great experience so far for all of us. It is really nice to see Eritrea and see how Eritrea is progressing in a very short time. I have had the opportunity of looking over the UNESCO documents for the description of the city and I was impressed that it has met all the requirements. I was more impressed by the culture and the people. It is exceptional to see different ethnic groups and cultures coming together and living in peace as one. That is a treasure. We are here to introduce our University and try to be connected with Eritrea for future, to experience our profession in such a beautiful historic city.