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Adaptive Re Use Of Built Heritage

Info: 4585 words (18 pages) Essay
Published: 1st May 2017 in History

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We have all come across historic cities or settlements in our lifetime. Whether it be the holy city of Varanasi or the ancient Rome, the remains of Pompei or the religious city of Madurai, all of them have their own importance in the history. A lot of factors play an important role in making them distinct, whether it be the cultural and traditional values, architecture, climate and geomorphological features, or the historic events associated with these settlements.

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These historical settlements face a huge challenge in terms of their sustenance. Since there are constant changes taking place all around the world, these cities need to retain their historical values and roots, and also, need regular development in terms of infrastructure. There are a lot of built heritage in a city which are of historical and cultural significance to the society. This built heritage, like our outstanding and unique natural surroundings, provides a vital link to our past, assists in celebrating our achievements, and offers a vision for our future. It is a working, functional illustration of the many chapters in the story of our nation. So they need to be conserved. A lot of built heritage is being conserved by the Government of India and the various state governments (namely ASI and SDA) and a whole set of guidelines have been formulated to protect them. But there is a list of even more number of built heritages which are not being legally protected. Most of them have a significance in the historical background and the culture and tradition of the society where they are standing, but they are dysfunctional and not being used. This is resulting in them losing their prime importance in the society.

One of the ways to conserve them is by adaptively reusing them. Adaptive reuse is the act of finding a new use for a building. The recycling of buildings has been an important and effective historic preservation tool. In the context of sustainable development, communities have a lot to gain from adaptively reusing historic buildings (not necessarily monuments). Going through the whole process of demolition and reconstruction alone sells the environmental benefits of adaptive reuse. Environmental benefits, combined with energy savings and the social advantage of recycling a valued built heritage make adaptive reuse of historic buildings an essential component of sustainable development.

The Question

Can adaptive re-use be an efficient way to conserve built heritage in India?

Need Identification

Our built heritage provides us with physical evidence of the past and it reminds us of where we have come from, and also links us to culture, traditions, events, people and innovations which have shaped our environment. Therefore, every generation has a responsibility to protect the significant built heritage for the future generations. Documenting and maintaining our heritage plays an extremely crucial role in ensuring that our links with the past are preserved so that the community can appreciate and benefit from its inheritance. Without heritage, we tend to lose an important perspective on the present, and the focus on the history that has occurred in the evolution of our culture. Strategies for conserving the built environment are designed to preserve and enhance cultural, historic, and artistic values, and more importantly, to provide a set of economic and social benefits and contribute to improving the quality and sustainability of the urban ecology. One way of conserving our built heritage is through adaptively reusing it. In line with the changing social and economic conditions and the ever- increasing pressure on the cities for development, adapting the built heritage for the new functions would help in adding to their heritage value in the society. Beside its principal goal to assist in conservation of our cultural heritage, the adaptive reuse of old buildings would also help in bringing long-term benefits to cut the environmental, social and economic costs of urban development and expansion in a sustainable manner.

Scope of the Study

The research is concerned with the adaptive re- use of built heritage (tangible heritage) in India but few of the foreign examples have been studied for comparison and analysis with their Indian counterparts.

The built heritage taken into account have a historical importance in the social circuit.

The study doesnot take into account the historical monuments which are being protected by the Government organisations (namely, Archaeological Survey of India and State Departments of Archaeology).

All the built heritage considered for case studies have been built more than 100 years old.

The study covers the aspects associated with the architecture of the built heritage.

Limitations of the Study

The research is limited by the number of case studies being considered, due to the time constraint.

All the case studies incorporated in the research work are from secondary sources.

The case studies are limited by the number of architectural drawings and details of the built heritage (both before and after the restoration process).

The buildings of historical importance which are being protected by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and SDA (State Departments of Archaeology) cannot be re- used due to the Government’s norms, so they are not considered in the research.

The buildings of historical importance which belong to a private owner and is currently being reused for residential purposes cannot be considered in the research due to unavailability of their architectural data and analysis.

Research Methodology

Chapter Outline

Identity and heritage of a city

What gave cities their identity

Factors responsible for their identity

Factors which may lead to change in their identity

Meaning of Heritage

Factors which help us decide what is a heritage and what is not

Heritage classification-

Tangible Heritage and Intangible Heritage

Relationship of heritage to the identity of a settlement

Defining Built heritage

Conservation of identity and heritage

Need for conservation of built heritage

Ways of conservation of built heritage

Problems and challenges faced during conservation

Impacts of losing built heritage

Concept of conservation in India

Adaptive Re- use

Defining adaptive re- use

Need to adaptively re- use a built heritage

Benefits of adaptively reusing a built heritage

Problems and challenges faced during this process

Ethics of adaptive re-use

Stand of the Government of India and the various state governments on adaptive re- use of unprotected buildings

Case Studies

Case study of adaptive re- use of Town Hall of Lincolnshire (UK):

The old Town Hall of Lincolnshire was built in 1764, replacing an earlier Town Hall which was built on the same site. It is a 2- storey brick structure with pantiled (fired roof-tile made of clay) and round arched openings making it a rich heritage and a fine standing example of the 18th century British architecture. It started to be re- used in 1967 as a service garage and played a major role in the improvement of the street scene around the site.

Case study of restoration of Town Hall in Kolkata for adaptive re- use:

The Town hall in Kolkata (West Bengal) was the first building which was restored for adaptively reusing in West Bengal, and which further opened the gates for various conservation and restoration processes. It was a public building built by the British in 1813, but was lying unused and vacant for a long time after independence of India. A team of conservationists, architects and structural engineers worked during 1996-1998 to conserve this heritage building and give it a new use and meaning. This resulted in the opening up of this edifice again for various kinds of public use, that included a museum.

Case study of adaptively re- using Market Hall of Monmouth (Wales):

The Market Hall of Monmouth was originally designed by the architect G. V. Maddox and was built in 1838 in the Priory Street of Monmouth (Wales). It is a rich architectural heritage with classical façades with pilasters, and Doric columns, which have all been retained. In 1963 it was restored for a wide variety of usage which include a post office, government offices, 2 museums, a coffee bar and a flower side. A single- storey extension has been added on the west overlooking a river. The case study stands as a fine example of restoring new uses to a built heritage and also adding its value to the society

by means of building extensions in- sync with the rich heritage values.

Case study of Minto Hall in Bhopal:

Minto Hall is a Prominent Heritage Structure. Its foundation stone was laid in 1909 by the then Viceroy of India, Lord Minto. The building was originally built to accommodate the Durbar Hall, Reception Room and Guest House for the then Ruler of Bhopal State, Sultan Jehan Begum. The Minto Hall has been witness to a varied range historical events, as it has been put to a different kind of uses such as Military Headquarter of Bhopal State, Lake View Hotel, Skating Ring, Police Headquarter and Inter College, and finally as the State Legislature till 1996 after which it was abandoned. But the most interesting aspect is that Minto Hall was never used for the purpose it was built. But inspite of catering to so many different functions, it still stands strong as a heritage for the society because of it has witnessed 2 important eras of the city, namely the Princely State of Bhopal and Bhopal as the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.

Critical and comparative analysis



Survey Methodology for the Case Studies

The case studies will be explored through both primary and secondary sources (i.e. books, articles, internet, etc.)

2 case studies where the process of adaptive re-use was carried out effectively in a country outside India will be studied, and 2 case studies will be explored within india and then comparison will be made on the basis of analysis, which would in- turn give us a better picture of whether the process is being used in India in an efficient manner.

The necessary architectural drawings and details will be studied.

The people and firms who are associated with the process of adaptive re- use of the particular case study will be interviewed for their valuable information.

Attempt will be made to study in detail how the built heritage for originally built to be used and how it was actually being used.

The causes for the built heritage to stop functioning will be explored in detail.

The different ideas and concepts developed initially for the adaptive re- use process of the particular built heritage will also be attempted to be understood.

Exploration will be made in understanding how the re- use process was actually carried out by the conservationists, architects and structural engineers and what was its effect on the society.

Based on the case studies, critical and comparative analysis will be carried out, between the case studies located outside India and within India, respectively, analysing each and every aspect (both positive and negative) of the process of adaptive re-use.

Based on the the analysis, the final conclusion will be drawn answering the research question.

Identity and Heritage of a city

What gave cities their identity?

Speaking of identity, in general terms, means the characteristics of a person, an object, an architecture or a city which makes it distinct, different from others. In the case of a settlement or a city it means identifying its general and particular characteristics, which is easily visible in its physical forms or its functions, or which are expressed in its cultural, spiritual or symbolic backgrounds. The general and particular characteristics of a city result from its natural environment and its social conditions. Natural conditions such as the climate, relief and the geomorphological features are the most stable factors of its identity. Climate creates favourable or less favourable conditions for the creation of settlements and cities. [1] 

Lynch introduces the concept of environmental imageability, which he defines as that quality in a physical object which gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given observer. It is that shape, colour, or arrangement which facilitates the making of vividly identified, powerfully structured, highly useful mental images of the settlement. [2] 

Alberti wrote in his book of De re aedificatoria (The Ten Books on Architecture) “If a city, according to the opinion of philosophers, be no more than a great house, and on the other hand, a house be a little city; why it may not be said, that the members of that house are so many little houses; such as the courtyard, the Hall, the Parlour, the Portico and the like?”

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This shows that a city can be described through its architecture. A city is like a dynamic organism which is not created in a definite span of time and which is always incomplete and where there is always scope for more development. A city can survive for centuries, even millennium, when its original concept and meaning is changed or expired. The city is also more complex and embraces the social, political, cultural and symbolic subsystems and interacting amongst them. [3] 

It is difficult to say, whether it is a good or bad thing, that cities are never preserved unchanged from their original form, but they do change constantly. The changing of cities is steeped in the historic process itself and the change is its very essence. Generation after generation, individuals and groups build, alter, destroy and replace artefacts and all these interventions make cities identifiable. [4] 

Factors responsible for their identity

Originally, the shape of the surface was an important security factor and security was of

primary importance in the formation of historic cities. The hilltops, the

islands and capes or sites, which were well protected by steep slopes and by

water, were often selected as the most suitable places for urban settlements. These strong natural features in turn determined the original shape of cities and gave them their permanent identity. The growth of cities and urban transformations could increase or reduce the importance of these natural features. On the other hand, man made changes or the growth of cities often tend to modify or hide their real identity. For instance, the island city of Koper in south western Slovenia lost its identity when it was in the process of growing and when the surrounding waters filled in, thus tying the island to the mainland. Nevertheless natural features represent the most stable element of urban identity, while the social conditions, which embrace the historical, political, economic, cultural, intellectual and technological factors, are more flexible. They change more rapidly and give rise to more radical and continuous transformations. Many authors believe in social determinism toward urban planning and architecture. For Giedion, for example, ‘the city is the expression of the diversity of social relationships which have become fused into a single organism’. [5] 

Factors which may lead to change in their identity

The character of historical periods is always closely connected with the political power. Many examples can be cited to show that there is a close relationship between political powers and urban forms, and that stronger power more decisively shapes cities’ identities. For instance, Rome was transformed by Pope Sixtus V in just a little more than five years, giving the city a completely new identity. Napoleon III transformed Paris in the middle of the 19th century into the centre of Europe, and alot of European settlements followed this model. The Habsburg family, which ruled the Austrian monarchy for more than 700 years, left its imprint not only in the imperial centre of Vienna but also in other urban centres of the monarchy, so that still today one can recognize the borders of the ancient monarchy by

observing the architecture of government buildings, museums, hospitals, schools and other public buildings. Changes in political power are often followed by transformations within cities, which may cause the loss of the historical identity. Like Orham Pamuk writes in his book ‘Istanbul: Memories of a City’ how many signs of the Ottoman identity were lost to the city when the political regime and the social system changed. The same is true for many other cities in Europe and beyond. Rulers always wanted to express their power by imposing new identities to the cities, pulling down old symbols and erecting new monuments, symbols of their own power. This holds true throughout history and is also prevalent in the present era. [6] 

Cities derive their identity also from their economic power, trade and industry. Alot of historic cities were trade centres from very beginning. Alot of European cities were forced to change their identity during the end of 18th and the whole of the 19th Century due to industrial development. The reason for the change in their identity could be cited to the fact that the industrial development made them very rich. For example, the cities like Barcelona and Brussels completely changed their identity and became important centres for new art. But this also had a negative impact on these ancient settlements as the industrial development caused overpopulation in the cities, which eventually led to the problems of hygiene and bad living conditions for their people. [7] 

Meaning of Heritage

Heritage refers to tangible and intangible manifestations of our history charting human evolution. For the purpose of this research, heritage will refer to monuments, groups of buildings and sites of heritage value, constituting the historic or built environment. This may include those buildings, artefacts, structures, areas and precincts that are of historic, aesthetic, architectural, associative or cultural significance and may include natural features within such sites of environmental or scenic beauty such as water bodies, tanks, wells, open areas, gardens, etc. Though in this particular research the main focus will be on the built heritage.

Factors which help us decide what is a heritage and what is not

The following factors help us decide whether a property can be classified as a heritage or not:

Significance: Cultural significance refers to the importance of a property to the architecture, history, engineering, archaeology or the culture of a community, region or nation. The following factors could play a vital role in selecting a building as a heritage structure:

Its association with events, activities or patterns (like Parliament House in New Delhi or Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad)

Its association with important personalities or representing work of a master (like tombs, or city of Jaipur and Chandigarh)

Distinctive physical characteristics of architectural style, design, construction and form (like Gwalior Fort in Gwalior and Amber Palace in Jaipur)

Potential to yield important information, such as illustrating architectural, social or economic history (like havelis, railway stations, town halls, clubs, markets, water works, etc.)

Technological innovations in construction or building typologies (like dams, bridges, etc.)

Town planning features like squares, street avenues, etc. (like Rajpath in Lutyens’, New Delhi)

Integrity: Historic integrity refers to the historic identity of a property, evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics and significant elements that existed during the property’s historic period. Through historic integrity, a property is able to communicate about the significant aspects of its past. Not only such a property must resemble its historic appearance, but it must also retain its original materials, design features and aspects of construction dating to the period when it attained significance.

Context: Historic context is information about the historic trends and properties grouped by an important theme in the history of a community, region or nation during a particular period of time. Therefore, knowledge of historic context enables a recorder to understand a historic property as a product of its time [8] .

Heritage Classification- Tangible and Intangible:

Tangible Heritage: Tangible heritage includes items like the traditional clothes, utensils, or vehicles (eg, ox wagon) which have been crafted or made by the cultural groups. A lot of temples, pyramids, and public monuments also come under tangible heritage. History shows that national policies have always emphasised more on conserving tangible heritages than the intangible heritages.

Intangible Heritage: Intangible heritage refers to the intellectually existing heritage in the culture. It includes traditional dances, songs, superstitions, myths, believes, etc. [9] 

Relationship of heritage to the identity of a settlement:

Defining built heritage

Conservation of identity and heritage

Need for conservation of built heritage

Ways of conservation of built heritage

Problems and challenges faced during conservation

Impacts of losing built heritage

Concept of conservation in India

Adaptive Re-use

Defining adaptive re- use:

Recycling has become second nature to modern communities as we strive for environmental sustainability. Aiming to reduce, reuse and recycle waste, we find new life in everything from bottles and boxes to clothes, vehicles and buildings. Adaptive reuse is a process that changes a disused or ineffective item into a new item that can be used for a different purpose. Sometimes, nothing changes but the item’s use. The adaptive reuse of a historic building should have minimal impact on the heritage significance of the building and its setting. Adaptive reuse is self-defeating if it fails to protect the building’s heritage values.

The most successful built heritage adaptive reuse projects are those that best respect and retain the building’s heritage significance and add a contemporary layer that provides value for the future. Sometimes, adaptive reuse is the only way that the building’s fabric will be properly cared for, revealed or interpreted, while making better use of the building itself. Where a building can no longer function with its original use, a new use through adaptation may be the only way to preserve its heritage significance.

The benefits of adaptively reusing heritage buildings:

Environmental: Adaptive reuse of buildings has a major role to play in the sustainable development of Indian communities. When adaptive reuse involves historic buildings, environmental benefits are more significant, as these buildings offer so much to the landscape, identity and amenity of the communities they belong to. One of the main environmental benefits of reusing buildings is the retention of the original building’s “embodied energy”. Embodied energy of a building can be defined as the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the acquisition of natural resources to product delivery, including mining, manufacturing of materials and equipment, transport and administrative functions. By reusing buildings, their embodied energy is retained, making the project much more environmentally sustainable than entirely a new construction. New buildings have much higher embodied energy costs than buildings that are adaptively reused.

Social: Keeping and reusing historic buildings has long-term benefits for the communities that value them. When done effectively, adaptive reuse can restore and maintain the heritage significance of a building and help to ensure its survival. Rather than being neglected and then finally being termed to be unrecognisable and irrelevant, heritage buildings that are recycled in an efficient way can continue to be used and appreciated. Increasingly, a lot of communities, governments and developers are seeking ways to reduce the environmental, social and economic costs of continued urban development and expansion. We are realising that the quality and design of the built environment in our towns and cities are vital to our standard of living and our impact upon natural resources. In the context of local government planning, heritage is gradually being merged with more general environmental and quality-of-life concerns in recent years. Communities increasingly recognise that future generations will benefit from the protection of certain places and areas, including heritage places. Our lifestyle is enhanced not just from the retention of heritage buildings, but from their adaptation into accessible and usable places.

Economic: There are several financial savings and returns to be made from adaptive reuse of historic buildings. Embodied energy savings from not demolishing a building will only increase with the predicted rise of energy costs in the future. While there is no definitive research on the market appeal of reused heritage buildings, they have been popular because of their originality and historic authenticity.

Promotion of innovation: The adaptation of heritage buildings presents a genuine challenge to architects and designers to find innovative solutions. As development pressures increase in our cities, more heritage buildings are being reused, producing some excellent examples of creative designs that retain heritage significance. [10] 


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