Students and architects want LHC conservation

“We have our own constraints. This part of the building is in bad condition and its renovation is necessary,” Mr Niazi said.

He said the students should meet the chief justice, who had also been successful in easing the fears of lawyers who didn’t want the building demolished. “The lawyers are now convinced that the building needs renovation.”

The students told him that they had arranged a meeting with the chief justice for Monday. They also offered to work free of cost on preserving the building.

The Institute of Architects of Pakistan (IAP) called the protest after a meeting at which a resolution condemning the resolution was passed.

“The Lahore High Court building is an over 100-year-old landmark of the city of Lahore with exceptional historical value and content,” says the resolution. “The design and style of the building is unique and contributes significantly to the diversity and culture of the city. The building forms a major part of the built heritage of Lahore and it should be preserved.

“The building is protected under the Special Premises Act of Punjab and those advocating the demolition will be violating the Special Premises Act. The demolishing of this building will irreparably affect the preservation and conservation efforts of built heritage, which is strongly advocated by the architects of Pakistan.

“The built heritage of the city should be preserved and refurbished keeping in view the principles of conservation as put down in internationally agreed conventions to which Pakistan is a signatory.”

The decision to demolish this part of the building was made by LHC Chief Justice Iftikhar Hussain Chaudhry. He said the building was deteriorating and Rs 44.865 million would be spent on building a new structure. The new construction would cover 11,910 square feet. In the first phase of the project, the western wing of the LHC building is to be demolished and reconstructed as a double-storey building housing courtrooms and record rooms.

The chief justice ordered that the new construction reflect the existing Gothic architecture of the LHC. The construction would take a year, after which the rebuilding of the second phase would begin.

The construction of what is now the LHC building began in 1880 when the Punjab Chief Court was established. As reported in the Punjab Administration Report of 1887-88, “the Chief Court was completed in the year 1887, the front elevation from The Mall is very effective and together with the new Cathedral and Lord Lawrence’s statue in the neighbourhood of this building, it is a notable addition to the public buildings and monuments of Lahore. It harmonises admirably with the ancient monuments, history and atphere of Lahore.”

The building cost Rs 321,837.

The whole structure, which is in the form of a quadrangle, is built of solid bricks, in lime mortar, with all mouldings, cornices and projections of specially moulded bricks and the arch fillings of terra cotta trellis work. One great peculiarity of the work was that no chipping of bricks was allowed.

The front arches of the judges’ veranda, the porch outside and portions of the main towers are built of Nowshera marble, with marble trellis work. The roof of the main courtroom is of double Allahabad tiling, and the rest is flat tiled and terraced. The floor of the Central Hall is of marble, and the rest of hexagonal tiles. The roof timbers are of deodar wood and the doors of teak wood, with carved devices on the tiles as well as on the frames. The waiting hall, courtrooms and judges’ chambers are finished with a dado of encaustic tiles and various patterns, laid in Portland Cement.

The front row of rooms, to the north, consists of a central hall, approached through a large porch by a broad flight of marble steps. To the right and left of this hall are spacious bench rooms, and in the wings beyond four smaller chambers for four judges, with retiring rooms, bathrooms, and a private passage leading direct to the bench rooms from the chambers.

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