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  • Jessin Kabir

Internship Experience- The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken!

(As I would like to call this summer internship)

I would like to call this summer internship at Benny Kuriakose and Associates the “The Road Not Taken!”. I wondered many times why we, the Department of Architectural Conservation alone have an internship programme during our summer vacation while others are having fun. Now I came to know what it was really meant for. The right choice also played a major role in that. We, myself and three of my classmates who joined his office, had a couple of meetings in Delhi before we started the internship.

A systematic schedule for the internship was neither made by him nor us in the beginning. Although, an order was there throughout this period as if it was a planned one. He gave us choices and options and we finalized upon a work plan to follow, though we were clueless about many things. At that time, we were not able to find any conservation projects running in the office. The major conservation-related projects that were about to start, included a Methodist Church which was to be modified for the Centenary celebrations next year, a detailed condition assessment and manual preparation for 88 temples in Thanjavur and an Urban Conservation in Alappuzha, the scale of which are in ascending order.

Methodist Church Site Survey

The first site visit and the condition assessment of the methodist church were assessed in a discussion. We had missed out on many relevant defects and were not able to observe properly. Here we identified the huge gap between theory and practice. Another visit to the church, assisted by Benny sir, after the Thanjavur study, helped us observe and analyse the defects in the church in a better way and also gave clues of the reasons and relations between them. The main problems were the rising dampness, additions done in cement and the construction of an auditorium abutting the church. The presentation, given by a B.Arch. intern on Churches gave first-hand information about the design of various churches.

Thanjavur Temples Site Survey

Extensive research and presentation were done prior to the 10 days long site study. The objectives of the study were to do a detailed condition assessment and a manual stating the dos and don’ts of conserving the 88 temples under the Palace Devasthanam. The building level analysis done for the church helped this study as well. Six of us were split into two groups. Two from each group had cameras and the other filled out the inventories. The areas of the first temple we saw till noon on the very first day, were again covered with Dr Benny Kuriakose in the evening.

Kalahastheeswara temple
Kalahastheeswara Temple

He did a quick visit to the temple we were studying, after visiting one of his projects at a nearby site. At the end of the day, we made a presentation of the photographs taken that day. He also projected the photographs he had taken. Huge difference! Good that he came! The flaws we made were pointed out by him. The aspects we missed out, considering them as trifles, were found to be of great value. I became very cautious in our study once he gave us feedback. The next day onwards, I saw a change in my own observation.

Brihadeshwara temple gopuram at Thanjavur
Brihadeshwara Temple Gopuram at Thanjavur

No wonder why Monika, one of the trainees who assisted us, asked me how I could find out about the original extent of a temple complex before enquiring anyone there. She was informed the same by the temple priest. The discussions with the Prince in the Palace, the District Collector, other resource persons of Thanjavur, and the talks with the local people for gathering information was a new experience. The people of Thanjavur were very receptive and cooperative. There was also a presentation in the office on temple architecture by a retired professor of IIT Delhi, Sri. Swaminathan taught us that information is for sharing.

The Talk on Conservation Architecture by Sri Swaminathan, a Retired Professor From IIT,  Delhi
The Talk on Conservation Architecture by Sri Swaminathan, a Retired Professor From IIT, Delhi

Dr Benny Kuriakose always told us about his approach to the projects and their nature, which is entirely different from the other Conservation Architects. I was very keen to know what his approach was. This is not to praise Dr Benny Kuriakose, the team leader of Vedika (based in Chennai), instead to thank him for the opportunities he had given us during the short span of six weeks.

-Jessin Kabir

Check out what other interns have to say about their internship experience at Benny Kuriakose and Associates:

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