Published: Aug. 24, 2018


Marufjon (Maruf) Mirakhmatov restores furniture from the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse on Aug. 20, 2018, as part of a restoration project that will also involve restoring the inside and outside of the Teahouse. Mirakhmatov is co-teaching an Program in Environmental Design class where students will learn how to perform the restoration.

 CU Boulder’s Community Engagement, Design and Research Center (CEDaR) has helped organize a model partnership that connects CU Boulder, the city of Boulder and an artisan from Tajikistan to the restoration of a popular city landmark.

The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse restoration is a joint project between CEDaR, CU Boulder’s Program in Environmental Design (ENVD), the city of Boulder (Facility and Asset Management), Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse and Boulder-Dushanbe Sister Cities. CEDaR is also helping coordinate the university’s contributions, including bringing scholarly and student resources to the project, engaging a craftsperson to support the restoration and organizing related research initiatives.

The work, which begins in late August and is anticipated to run through January 2019, includes restoration of the Teahouse façade, interior and furniture as well as implementation of related educational, research and cultural activities. 

“The restoration is one of several urban, design-related, city-university partnerships that CEDaR has helped develop over the past few years,” says Brian Muller, an associate professor for CU Boulder’s Program in Environmental Design (ENVD) and director of CEDaR. “It’s a great example of the opportunities for effective town-gown collaboration that links research and teaching with priorities defined by the Boulder community.”

Marufjon (Maruf) Mirakhmatov, a visiting CEDaR scholar from Tajikistan and grandson of the artisan who built the Teahouse, is working with interns and students involved in facilitating the education and outreach, Muller says. In collaboration with Shawhin Roudbari, assistant professor of environmental design, Mirakhmatov is co-teaching the ENVD class, “Special Topics: History and Historiography of Environmental Design: Restoring Dushanbe Teahouse,” where students will learn and work side by side with Mirakhmatov, sanding and painting, to restore the inside and outside of the Teahouse. 

Five CEDaR interns will support the restoration effort, education and outreach. ENVD and Environmental Studies (ENVS) classes will also support the restoration as well as explore landscape and environmental design opportunities on the site surrounding the teahouse. 


Mirpulat Mirakhmatov grandfather of Marufjon (Maruf) Mirakhmatov watches while another worker drills during the construction of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse in 1997 or 1998.

Mirpulat Mirakhmatov, left, grandfather of Marufjon (Maruf) Mirakhmatov, installs artistic panels during the construction of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse in 1997 or 1998.

Nate Jones' strong interest in connecting the Teahouse and its cultural legacy with ENVD designers and architects, led to bringing Mirakhmatov here, Muller said.  Jones, an ENVD academic advising coordinator and a member of Boulder-Dushanbe Sister Cities, wanted to bring an artisan in from Tajikistan who could not only restore the building's artwork, but also train ENVD students in the artistic craft the Teahouse exemplified. 

Related educational, research and cultural activities include internships, demonstrations and events to stimulate on-going research and discussion about opportunities to apply Central Asian design ideas and environmental management concepts to Boulder and Colorado.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Boulder-Dushanbe Sister Cities (BDSC), the 20th anniversary of the Teahouse, and the 10th anniversary of BDSC’s reciprocal gift to Dushanbe, the Friendship Center. Public events and demonstrations are being organized for mid-late fall.

Read about the Teahouse restoration in the Daily Camera and Colorado Daily!