Vernacular Knowledge: building arts and know-how

Training and disseminating knowledge on traditional techniques is an important approach to maintaining traditions that are threatened by modernization and contemporary technologies. The reskilling of laborers and architects is not only important for cultural heritage preservation in Palestine but also provides architects, engineers, and laborers with new skills that improve their employability in the field of architectural restoration. 


Since its establishment, RIWAQ has been organizing restoration workshops in various regions of Palestine, including Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Gaza. The workshops focus on the use and application of lime mortar and traditional techniques in restoration projects. Training workshops target contractors and site engineers who can apply new skills and work with specific site workers to adopt new techniques. Workshops include both theoretical and practical sessions on the restoration and maintenance of historic buildings.


Since 2004, more than 140 contractors, engineers, supervisors, and craftsmen have attended our workshops. In addition to offering theoretical knowledge on the subject matter and conservation works in general, the program offers practical sessions where participants apply and experiment with the materials used on restoration, such as the use of lime in stone restoration, plastering, pointing, and lime washing.


Working with local and foreign experts, RIWAQ also offers training in specialized topics and techniques such as the structural analysis of stone structures, traditional iron works, mural paintings, and photometry. Since 2008, RIWAQ has held an annual summer training program for fifth year architects and new graduates to gain experience in restoration and conservation work. Through this program,  RIWAQ has trained minimum of four participants annually.


To further expand the knowledge base of people working in restoration, RIWAQ published RIWAQ’s Guidelines for Maintenance and Restoration of Historic Buildings in Palestine, which assists stakeholders in improving their performance and advancing their knowledge and awareness of traditional building techniques. This publication is also of interest to groups, organizations, and residents utilizing or inhabiting rehabilitated spaces by illustrating- in accessible terms- the processes of maintaining historic houses and structures.