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Lessons in heritage restoration

Restoring a heritage structure is a challenging task, one that requires the restorer to safeguard the original architectural style and the integrity of the building. Most people, however, are unaware of the work that goes into conservation architecture.

It is with this in mind that the Bengaluru chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is organising an open house on Saturday to create awareness about heritage conservation and restoration.

The venue is Chamarajpet where around 15 craftsmen will be refurbishing the century-old Fort High School. Participants will not only get a chance to interact with the craftsmen, but also get hands-on experience of working with lime and mortar, which is being used to restore a portion of the building.

This event is significant in the the light of recent instances of cement being used to replace the lime and mortar on heritage structures that are undergoing a makeover.

The restoration in the UVCE campus and two fern houses within Cubbon Park drew flak for the way the work was being restored.

“The use of cement on a lime and mortar building is detrimental to a heritage structure. We wanted to create awareness about heritage and conservation. The best way to do it is to bring people to a restoration site and let them have a hands-on experience,” said Pankaj Modi, conservation architect and co-ordinator for Fort High School restoration work.

Experts will talk to participants about the architecture of the heritage school and show how INATCH studied and documented the building. “People will be allowed to try lime plastering and work with traditional tools,” Mr. Modi said.

The event is open to all.

The restoration began in April this year, is being undertaken by INTACH at a cost of Rs. 2.5 crore.

“Right now, work on one portion of the building is currently under way. Craftsmen are undertaking plastering and reconstruction of the ornamental features of the building. Work on the roof will be taken up after the monsoon,” said Mr. Modi.

The Colonial-style structure was built during the time of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysuru. It has a central courtyard with rooms opening out on all sides. The ornamental features and detailing, such as cornices, wooden fascia, arched doors and windows, are in typical Colonial style.

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