The President of the country, Islam Karimov declared 2003 as the Year of Mahalla. Our journal, #1, 2003 offered to attention of the readers an article about city mahalla. Here we’d offer the conversation the editor-in-chief of “SAN’AT”, Nodir Normatov and the leading expert in architecture, professor of Tashkent State Technical University, Dodo Nozilov have had about mahalla in kishlaks.
N.N. As you know, kishlaks in our republic are located both on plain, and in mountain areas. What traditions are typical of the rural architecture, in particular, of the kishlaks located in mountain areas?
D.N. The architecture of dwelling houses has been improved for centuries, developing under influence of economy, a local relief and ecological conditions. In mentality of our people is an idea that such masters as the wood carver and the architect create beauty. Not having fully satisfied by the achievements of pupils, Mani, for example, promoted them to create art pieces even more beautiful, more natural that they would become a standard for the future masters – artists, wood and ganch carvers,. Construction of a house always causes huge contributions, both financial, and physical. The people understood that in cooperation to carry it out is much easier. The work requiring heavy hand labour – installation of foundations, laying of walls and others – was done by means of khashar – cooperation of all neighbours and kins.
Any structure should not disturb neighbours, should not block a wind and cast a shadow. Attention was paid to a wall between houses, pass to the next court, common aryk, passages etc.
N.N. Would you tell about kishlaks in the past?
D.N. Till the 20th century kishlaks had been constructed according to once determined standard. In the center were located religious (mosques) and official buildings, chaikhona, a stall and forging workshop. The infrastructure of the village submitted to the center. To spend a free time, to have a piala of tea and to have a rest, to exercise namaz and to do shopping the people went to the center. Around the kishlak there were areas under crops, pastures, gardens and from afar it was looked like a green oasis.
N.N. What were gardens in mountain kishlaks?
D.N. In the past, the fortresses in mountains were erected on natural eminence surrounded then with gardens, which occupied hillsides rising upward as if by steps. From below it was possible to see how they are rising upwards.
N.N. Were the architectural laws followed in construction of kishlaks?
D.N. Sure. The mountain kishlak developed and extended in dependence with a relief of hillsides. According to these factors, kishlaks were of two types. The first one – in long, flat plains of mountain canyons appeared some mahallas in groups. Kishlaks of this type in spite of they were small, had own mosque and central square.
Kishlaks of the second type were constructed in large mountain passages where a number of communities united in kishlak divided in some mahallas, each of which had its own center with a big square, a mosque and other structures. The market, hotel, chaikhona and shops were provided too.
N.N. Are these traditions followed in kishlaks now?
D.N. The Soviet power destroyed mosques or adapted them for warehouses. The center has moved from a mosque to another place. Was constructed a new square, which became a center. After obtaining of Independence the mosques have been restored. In the center were constructed public buildings, economic structures; appeared small industrial units, markets, cafes and chaikhona.
N.N. If to look from the architectural point of view, would such structures have any negative. influence on the center and architectural complex?
D.N. City and regional architects are designers of shops that have been constructed recently. A reason of some omissions became that the heads of the companies not always followed the project directives stated by the architect. As a result, along central streets appeared differently sized and asymmetric by facades buildings, what negatively affected on the image of kishlaks. The standard requirements are also broken when companies establish small private enterprises nearby dwelling houses or inside them.
N.N. How do you think what measures would prevent such omissions?
D.N. I think that buildings and shops nearby mosques in the center of kishlak should be constructed in accordance with projects considering their functions and role. The center should have a dominant building. Now, in the center of city mahallas, tower high multifunctional architectural complexes, which have big halls for celebrations – weddings, mahalla’s assemblies etc. Such complexes should be constructed in kishlaks. Available clubs should be reconstructed and should become multifunctional; beside them should be installed half-closed summer grounds with simple light fences and small water reservoirs, medium-sized architectural and sculptural compositions. The architect should supervise construction of such objects.
N.N. From the said above is rising the question: can each kishlak have own architect?
D.N. In the past, the master on demand of owners basing on available projects and existing standards constructed a building. Today it is clear, that without the architect consulting the construction of any dwelling house will not bring expected results. Because of, first, the building should smoothly enter the general image of a city or village, not breaking external harmony. It is necessary to consider climatic factors too. The house constructed ignoring a local relief and geographical location can suffer from landslips, earthquakes and storms. Therefore, it is expedient to have at least one architect with high education for a few kishlaks. Till the 90s of the 20th century, regional departments of architecture were headed by construction engineers, engineers, economists etc.
N.N. Would you tell about so-called “euro style”, now so fashionable in construction of dwelling houses, canteens and shops?
D.N. Now in cities became a widespread phenomenon to build in style of the baroque and gothic style. This has not touched kishlaks yet, but there the time demands construction of modern fundamental buildings too. Nevertheless, they should not limit our oriental traditions. In national architecture, there are proportional and compositionally perfect samples of buildings. Evidence of that – a number of structures in “old cities” of Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent, Khiva, Kokand and Marghilan. It is possible to build fine majestic houses meeting our way of life within oriental traditions and to preserve the best samples of oriental architecture.
N.N. How do you think what requirements should kishlaks’ markets meet?
D.N. In the markets should be installed convenient counters for sellers. The open market and counter for a seller who has to stay for a long time, selling the goods, affected badly on health, therefore the markets should be closed and should be compositionally connected with nearby buildings.
N.N. General harmony of rural environs is provided not only by dwelling houses and office buildings, but by economic and engineering structures too. Do you know any samples, which force to be surprised by skill of builders having constructed bridges, water reservoirs or any other economic units?
D.N. In 1979, I visited kishlak of Ghilon in Kashkadarya region. There water supplying pipes supply to each house the water from high-altitude springs. Inside houses, the water, as well as in cities, is given through taps. It should have been necessary to have outstanding knowledge and remarkable skill that all this was constructed in such difficult by a relief place. In mountains, water was always used economically. In kishlaks for irrigation, the water from mountain small rivers was directed to small water reservoirs. In canyons rich in rivers were built large water reservoirs. Among them there are water reservoirs of Khonband (the 10th century), Ochkob (the 16th century), etc.
Spring waters from canyons went down by water supplying pipes and trenches to the plantations. On to fertile lands of Nurata, Ukhum and others, the water went down by distance of 25 – 30 km through stony areas and sharp rocks. As we noticed, the trenches in mountain kishlaks, might be of three types: wooden installed on wooden piles; wooden installed on stone supports; walls from stone of 5 – 10 m in length on foothills in order to accumulate the flowing down water and to distribute among aryks, similar to trenches. Experience of national masters can be obviously applied now. Using modern construction materials, it is possible to build reliable and beautiful structures for accumulation of water (small water reservoirs, trenches). It will allow to save a valuable natural resource – water and will improve image of kishlaks.
N.N. Finalizing our talk, I would like to tell, that each of us should do possible contribution in a matter of kishlaks’ improvement, where for preservation of beauty and oriental colour we should revive previous architectural traditions, involving experts in architecture, fine arts and design.