OCCO aims to revolutionise navigation experience by providing architectural and historic references for 350 buildings.
“The app, not only provides assistance in navigation, but an inventory of significant buildings. Users will be able to share personal experiences by linking the app with their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” says OCCO director.
The OCCO App, a free smart phone application launched by the Office for Conservation and Community Outreach on Friday, offers its users a guide to the architecture and historic references of famous buildings in the city.
The Office for Conservation and Community Outreach studies urban transformations in Lahore. The application has been under consideration since May 2012.
The founder and director of OCCO, Attiq Ahmed, spoke with The Express Tribune at the launch at the National College of Arts. The OCCO, established in 2005, aimed to offer solutions to issues pertaining to Lahore. “‘We understand the requirements of the city and have tried to offer a quick reference guide for development purposes,” said Ahmed.
He said Lahore has undergone massive transformation over the years. “It was important that we dealt with it like one would with a living organism,” he said. The OCCO team had worked on all aspects of the city- glamorous and non-glamorous- from developing maps of Model Town, Cavalry Ground and The Mall, to identifying the need for sewerage systems in certain areas. “Since we are part of the city and want it to endure, we have added our voice to the choir,” he said.
Some 18 months ago, architect and visiting professor at the National College of Arts, Ayesha Sarfraz, began work on mapping architecturally important buildings in Lahore. The exercise soon morphed into something bigger when OCCO Director Khizer Ishtiaq suggested a mobile phone app that would offer people an accessible guide to important buildings in the city.
Ahmed says, “The app, not only provides assistance in navigation, but an inventory of significant buildings. Users will be able to share personal experiences by linking the app with their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”
The OCCO has identified as many as 350 buildings as significant and important to the city.
Ahmed said that historic and architecturally important buildings were given preference along with buildings for which detailed and authentic data was available.
The buildings are listed chronologically as pre-Mughal, Mughal, colonial and post-colonial era. The app offers high resolution pictures of buildings and allows users to locate buildings closest to them.
As many as 38 write ups have been provided for buildings in Lahore, narrating their historic and architectural details. “That is what makes it different from Google Maps,” Ahmed said. “Google Maps help with navigation, this app takes it one step forward adding authentic historical and architectural information.” He said the OCCO hoped to make the experience of navigation personalised. Ahmed said the app would benefit tourists, locals, researchers and students alike.
The 13-member team at the OCCO now aim to add more buildings to the app by May next year. They will focus on the buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Ahmed said if the developers of the app are provided significant information regarding buildings in other cities, they would be up for the challenge.