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Old Buildings New Lives - Restoration Recycling and Reuse

August 15, 2020 at 6:30:00 PM

In the third edition of #ConservationConversations, we had the twin privilege of having on board two professionals with extensive experience in issues around the conservation of #ArchitecturalHeritage. While Mr. Babu Rajeev, Convenor of the Cochin Chapter of INTACH and former Director-General of the #ArchaeologicalSurveyofIndia was a co-host for the session, our guest was the conservation expert Dr. Benny Kuriakose.

During the session, we covered the need to integrate knowledge about traditional building systems in our architectural pedagogy, and to build conservation capacities within the Government system. We also talked about raising awareness amongst the wider public on the ecological and social wisdom of using local building materials and vernacular traditions.

Dr. Kuriakose talked about the early influences that shaped his practice. Primarily the legendary architect #LaurieBaker but also important figures like #AppukuttanNair, the man responsible for the #Koothambalam at #KeralaKalamandalam, and the late design educator #DashrathPatel of the #NID.

He brought up his long association with #DeborahThiyagarajan, the founder of the #DakshinaChithra Crafts Village. It was insightful to hear about the visionary nature of that project, in not just conserving examples of regional architecture, but also reviving some of our region's fine craft traditions.

Concepts like #Restoration, #Recycling, #Reuse, and #Rehabilitation were explained with illustrative examples from his practice. This was followed by a passionate articulation of his views on using local materials in tandem with the technologies of today as a powerful means not just to address the housing needs of our region, but also its role in bringing climate resilience.

The most exciting part of the session was on the work done for the #MuzirisProject, and successively the #AlappeyHeritageProject. It was inspirational to know how dozens of historic buildings were restored and repurposed as museums to support an alternate vision of education.

He spoke of how many of the project’s present partners were reluctant earlier on. From the management of the #CheramanJumaMasjid, to hundreds of shopkeepers were coverts to a program of restoration to benefit from the wider goals of the #MuzirisProject, by the power of positive examples.

There was a range of interesting questions. We addressed as many as we could.

We are immensely grateful to both Dr.Rajeev and our wonderful colleagues at the #INTACHCochinChapter for making this session so rewarding. Our thanks to everybody who tuned in and asked great questions to make this session so much richer.

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