Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Conserving and constructing significance-challanges for conservation in India

Conserving and constructing significance-challanges for conservation in India
---a talk by Rahul Mehrotra at the Coomerswamy Hall, Chatrapati Shivaji Vastu Snghralya, Mumbai

This post is about my impression about this talk by Rahul, and the notes that i jotted while the talk was on.

a scan of my interpretations of the talk
Rahul Mehrotra is an Indian architect and urban designer trained at the School of Architecture, Ahmedabad, and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. He has been in private practice since 1990, and works on architecture, urban design and conservation projects. He has built extensively in India. He is also the director of the Urban Design Research Institute in Mumbai.

While talking on significance of conservation, and the challenges that India faces today with this subject, he spoke about the works of Sir Bernard Fielden, in whose memory the lecture had been organized. Rahul mainly spoke about this subject in relative to the conservation scenario in India today.
Being the head of the TAJ restoration committee, he showed excerpts from that project to showcase what it is to conserve these monuments of world importance.
but also in the process of previous conservation and revamping how the intended beauty of the TAJ diminished is also what he pointed out. For example: the entrance and surroundings were pruned to make that place over beautiful, which it indeed become, but it lost the surprise that a visitor would receive while leading towards the monument that used to be due to excess of the green.
There are these aspects of conservation also, not only in the physical way or simple redoing the facades and pruning, but also about how just by simply over marketing the wonder one automatically conserves it and makes it larger than life.
Incase of TAJ, it has several brands by that name, and a hundred other things on which it is printed, this has made the monument important just not only to the concerned authority who are trying to get it some global attention, but also to the locals of the country, who mark to be the most no. of visitors outnumbering the foreign nationals as everyone thinks it is.
Eg: in a certain year of the total 3.8 million visitors at TAJ only 0.8 million were the stereotypical foreign tourists and the rest 3 million were Indian.

Looking at how these things apply here in my endeavor, i dont know. But these perspectives do help in generating an outlook towards multi layered thinking, which is very much needed in such initiatives.

I will end this note with one excerpt from the talk that as now did give a direction to what i am doing.
looking at the Dynamic heritage!

"Culture is not static, neither is it quantifiable"

sorry for not being able to upload any pictures of Rahul talking as i could not take any pictures there.
special thanks to David and Ved for the drive and the enriching talk on the way to the commerswamy hall from Mahim.


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