Heritage structures need better attention, says Rai

GrA pro-active involvement from the corporate sector can go a long way in preserving heritage structures in Pune. This was stated by the country’s leading conservation architect and director Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative (CRCI) Gurmeet Rai while speaking to DNA after the Design Series workshops held in the city on Thursday.

“There is no regard for heritage across the country, but a lot can be done with little planning and the right policies,’’ said Rai.

Speaking to the audience comprising of architects and designers from the city, Rai, who is based in Delhi said “The level of ambiguity is very high in case of the preservation of old heritage structure. Apart from the 4,000 odd buildings listed by the Archeological Survey of India, no other heritage building in the country is protected. Therefore there is need for guiding principles and a tourism legislation which can ensure the preservation of these structures.”

Rai is working on some prestigious projects like the conservation management plan for Red Fort, conservation and site interpretation of the Anglo Sikh battle sites in Punjab, conservation of Golden Temple and several others. One of her t renowned project has been conservation of heritage structures across the GT Road.

Speaking on the heritage structures in Pune, Rai said “Though Pune structures are well maintained, the finesse of the heritage architecture is missing. Masons working on conservation projects need to be properly trained and this finesse can only come if they take on conservation regularly,” she said.

She said that Pune can be a classic example of private –public partnership on how to save heritage buildings. The corporate sector can do their bit to preserve these structures by taking over the responsibility of managing them and also developing a revenue model for these structures.

Taking a cue from Rai, leading architect and designers for some of the finest buildings in the country Karan Grover too stressed on the need to preserve the heritage and make it a part of urban development.

“We have lost all respect for our heritage,’’ said Grover. His conservation project for Champaner in Gujarat fetched it a nomination for UNESCO’s World heritage site status. In 2004, Grover also became the first architect in the first architect in the world to win the US Green Building Council (USGBC ‘Platinum award) His other acclaimed project has been the restoration of the Jadhavgarh forts near Pune.

“Cultural heritage should be treated as a sign for urban renewal, they should not be treated in isolation,’’ said both the architects. Grover is also taking up restoration work of five other forts.  The Design Workshops for achitects is one of the initiatives taken by Tata Steel as part of its centenary celebrations.

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