Traditional Houses of Bukhara's Old Jewish Mahallah

An On My Watch Event

This event is part of the On My Watch series and took place virtually on Thursday, September 30, 2021, at 12 PM (EDT). See below for more information on the discussion, including the event description and speaker information. 

Event Description

Home to an isolated part of the Jewish Diaspora for over two millennia, the Uzbek city of Bukhara is characterized by its traditional houses–exceptional representations of the woodworking craft developed by Bukharian Jews over centuries. Today, less than 200 Bukharian Jews remain in Bukhara’s old Jewish mahallah, and its traditional houses were included on the 2020 World Monuments Watch to raise awareness of the growing threats of disappearance and inappropriate alterations. With a small number of community members still in Bukhara, how can we ensure the documentation and protection of these unique examples of vernacular architecture? How can we design adequate standards for their conservation and adaptive reuse? 

Join us on September 30 for an online discussion exploring how WMF’s project in Bukhara, launched in 2020 with the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS), can address these questions by using new digital technologies, community engagement, and knowledge exchange.

This event will feature a panel discussion between Dr. Ona Vileikis, heritage expert and senior researcher at the University College London (UCL) and the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS); Dmitriy Voyakin, Director of IICAS; and Sukhrob Babaev, Director for Strategic Development of IICAS and team lead in Bukhara of the Bukharian Traditional Jewish Houses WMF/IICAS project, and will be moderated by WMF Program Manager Javier Ors Ausín. The event will also include a virtual site visit and interviews with community members from Bukhara and New York City including with Aron Aronov, founder of the Bukharian Jewish Museum in Rego Park, NY, who is known as the unofficial mayor of Little Bukhara in New York City. 

Date: Thursday, September 30
Time: 12:00 noon (EDT) | 9:00 pm (UZT) | 5:00 pm (BST)

WMF’s work at the Traditional Houses in the Old Jewish Mahallah of Bukhara was made possible, in part, by support from the David Berg Foundation and Tianaderrah Foundation / Nellie and Robert Gipson.


About the Speakers

Dr. Dmitriy Voyakin

Director of IICAS

Dr. Dmitriy Voyakin is Director of the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS) and General Director of “Archaeological Expertise” NGO. He is senior research scientist, head of the department of Documentation and Archaeological Conservation at the lnstitute of Archaeology MES in Almaty, Kazakhstan (RoK). He holds an M.A. from the Al-Faraby Kazakh State University and a PhD from the lnstitute of Archaeology MES. He was delegate to the World Heritage Committee from RoK (2014–2017) and Secretary-General of the National World Heritage Committee of Kazakhstan (2014–2018). He is currently member of the Nat. Comm of the RoK for UNESCO and ISESCO and member of the National Scientific Council of the RoK. Dmitriy has been field director of the more than ten archaeological expeditions and the Silk Road Serial Transnational Nomination UNESCO international facilitator. 


Dr. Ona Vileikis

Heritage expert and senior researcher at the University College London (UCL) and the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS)

Dr. Ona Vileikis is an architect and cultural heritage specialist with a PhD in civil engineering. She is senior researcher at the University College London (UCL) and the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS). Ona is the project coordinator of the WMF/IICAS project Traditional Bukhara Jewish Houses -Documentation and Conservation. She was researcher at CIMS Carleton University, Ottawa. Dr. Vileikis has collaborated at governmental and local levels with UNESCO, ICCROM, WMF, and ICOMOS in capacity building and consulting. At ICOMOS, Ona is member of the Executive Committee of CIPA Heritage Documentation, representative of the SDGWG and co-chair of the ICOMOS General Assembly Scientific Symposia in 2023 and 2020, Sydney. She is co-editor of Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development (JCHMSD). Since 2010, Ona has been actively serving as advisor to the UNESCO Silk Roads World Heritage nomination.


Sukhrob Babaev

Director for Strategic Development of IICAS and team lead in Bukhara of the Bukharian Traditional Jewish Houses WMF/IICAS project

Sukhrob Babaev is Director for Strategic Development of the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS) and team lead in Bukhara of the Bukharian Traditional Jewish Houses WMF/IICAS project. He is also, since 2020, co-director of International Scientific-research Center for Study and Preservation of Central Asian Historical and Cultural Heritage. Sukhrob holds a master's degree in Historiography and Methods of Historical Studies and studies at the Institute of Archaeology under Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan. From 2010 to 2016, he was senior lecturer at the World History chair of Bukhara State University. After that he was also head of Board of Monuments of Bukhara region Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Sukhrob is co-author of a publication on “World Cultural Heritage” training course for Ministry of Higher Education.


Javier Ors Ausín

WMF Program Manager

Javier Ors Ausín is an architect with experience in architecture, urban planning, and project management. He joined WMF in 2017 and manages the Modern Architecture initiative and Jewish Heritage Program. He also helps coordinate WMF’s Crisis Response Program. Javier has developed his career as an architect and heritage specialist in Spain, India, and the US, including work at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington DC. He has presented research at the Royal Geographical Society, the Society of Architectural Historians, and ICOMOS. Javier holds a master's degree in Architecture from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain and a master's degree in Critical Conservation from Harvard University.

About On My Watch

On My Watch is a series of conversations inviting architects, urban planners, preservationists, local stakeholders, and WMF project managers to explore the political, cultural, and technical issues around the preservation of at-risk cultural heritage sites on the World Monuments Watch around the world. 

About IICAS and the AEPJ


The International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS) was established in 1995 as a direct outcome of the UNESCO Silk Roads Expedition. The expedition aimed to improve cooperation among researchers of Central Asia with their international colleagues as a part of a multidisciplinary study of the region. 

For 25 years, IICAS has been implementing research projects in the fields of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, environment, history, arts, religions, ethnography, literature, and social sciences. Located in the vibrant historic city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan, IICAS fosters cooperation between its associate and corresponding members worldwide and its member states Azerbaijan, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.


This event is hosted in partnership with the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ), an NGO created in 2004 and a network of European institutions, including public bodies, private foundations, federations of Jewish communities and NGO’s, that serves as a platform to develop cultural initiatives and educational programs to European Jewish sites. The AEPJ network acts as channels for intercultural dialogue and promoting better knowledge and understanding of European history, creating awareness of cultural diversity and strengthening European citizens' cultural identity.




This event is hosted with the New York and UK Chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and is approved for AIA CES 1.0 LU.