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Dilapidated heritage buildings can be saved through restoration: Experts

Comments Off on Dilapidated heritage buildings can be saved through restoration: Experts   |   February 4, 2014    11:21am   |Contributed by manoja

PANAJI: The panic over the Canacona tragedy has not gone down well with some heritage lovers, as a few unsafe buildings facing demolition in urban areas are heritage landmarks that can be saved through restoration.

The local self-governing bodies, including the Corporation of the city of Panaji (CCP) pulled out their old lists to bring down unsafe buildings after 31 workers were killed in the Canacona disaster.

But a few of the buildings belong to the golden era when they were built to last for centuries and boasted of solid masonry. They are enduring landmarks in the urban landscape and are part of the city’s glorious past, sources say.

“Some of these buildings may not have been included in the heritage list, but as they have heritage value, they can be conserved through a meaningful intervention. This will help preserve them and make them the safe and habitable for the occupants,” Tulio de Souza, former chairman of Indian institute of architects (Goa chapter) said.

Agreed architect Dean D’Cruz, “A few of them can be easily restored as the masonry is solid, but minor interventions may be needed to replace the damaged sections and replace the woodwork,” he said.

Heritage lovers are wary about the further loss of heritage character in Goa’s towns, as new concrete buildings keeping dominating the urban setting. “No sentiment has been paid to heritage structures in declaring them unsafe. They can be restored instead of just pulling them down,” points out Rohit Phalgaonkar, a history lecturer.

The policy of declaring the buildings unsafe without considering their heritage value or a proper assessment of their structural stability is likely to encourage their neglect. “Owners will live in rented premises, neglect their buildings till they almost fall down and ask authorities to declare them unsafe for demolition. This will only help builders step in to destroy the last landmarks,” Phalgaonkar said.

Heritage buildings entail heavy maintenance costs. Adaptive reuse is an option for building owners to economically sustain their properties. “But the facades should be maintained at all costs while changes can be made inside as per new requirements,” D’ Cruz said.

Demolition of old buildings for redevelopment has its pitfalls, as the heritage character of the city is lost. “A new architect may be clueless about recreating true heritage architectural elements and the heritage of any place during reconstruction,” D’Cruz added.

The civic authorities should compel the owners to carry out maintenance if they can allow them to raze their structures, sources said. But CCP mayor, Surendra Furtado disagreed, stating that there are legal complications. “Some of the owners are waiting for the collapse of these buildings. The tenants are not moving out, as they fear losing their business and place in the building,” he said.

CCP authorities have issued notices after apprehensions over safety to human life and property. “The district collector, as the head of the disaster management authority can order the demolition. We can’t take risks, and the ball is in the government’s court,” he said.

But some say the argument about maintenance costs is misplaced. A concrete building is monolithic in nature but old buildings are an assembly of various parts and easier to restore, he explained.

“Everything has to be maintained, and it has been proved that concrete is much more difficult to repair than a traditional building,” Ketak Nachinolkar, a conservation architect said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/Dilapidated-heritage-buildings-can-be-saved-through-restoration-Experts/articleshow/29786252.cms

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