Loughborough University
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A protocol for the conservation of the built heritage of Suakin

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posted on 2015-12-22, 08:59 authored by Katherine S. Ashley
The conservation of built heritage is increasingly recognised as promoting cultural sustainability and encouraging the inclusion of culture in the sustainable development of the built environment. Reflecting this recognition is the advocacy of a dynamic integrated conservation approach that considers built heritage within its historic, physical, social, and cultural contexts. Yet, the cultural context of built heritage remains one of the most challenging and neglected aspects in conservation practice. In the specific case of Sudan's historic port town of Suakin, a number of recurrent obstacles to the site's conservation, in addition to a number of potential enablers to address these challenges, have been recognised throughout previous research. However, previous investigations have lacked an essential local socio-cultural perspective. Furthermore, a lack of strategy or framework for Suakin's conservation has so far prevented the coordination of its stakeholders, and the consequential implementation of potential enablers to address its conservation challenges. This thesis is the conclusion of a four-year EngD research that has developed a protocol for the conservation of the built heritage of Suakin. It begins with an introduction to the context, justification and scope of the research, and the research aim and objectives. A review of previous literature is then presented concerning a number of issues related to the research subject and the methodology employed to meet the research aim and objectives. The research methods conducted, including literature review, a mixed-method case study, questionnaire surveys, and a series of participatory action research focus groups, are then explained and the results achieved are discussed. The research findings result in the development of a protocol for Suakin's conservation consisting of five themes emanating from the research stages. These are: ownership; finances and planning; stakeholder inclusion and collaboration; conservation knowledge and awareness; response to the local context. Each theme is comprised of a challenge, or number of challenges, and corresponding solution(s). Furthermore, the research findings define a protocol implementation strategy, consisting of Suakin's stakeholders' suggested implementation and responsibility of the protocol solutions. The collaborative stakeholder process established by the research, and the resulting protocol and its implementation strategy, are a new development in the approach towards Suakin's conservation. The potential long-term impact of the research on Suakin's conservation has so far been indicated by the adoption of the resulting protocol implementation strategy as a formal approach to Suakin's conservation by NCAM. The thesis concludes with a critical review of the research throughout the research stages and key recommendations for the research sponsor, for Suakin's stakeholders, for the built heritage conservation industry and for further research. The findings of this research were published in four peer-reviewed papers.


Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC) and Mallinson Architects & Engineers (MA&E)



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Research Unit

  • Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Engineering (CICE)


© Katherine Sarah Ashley

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A dissertation thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree Doctor of Engineering (EngD), at Loughborough University


  • en

Qualification name

  • EngD

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

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