Conundrum of heritage and development – Will the two coexist to sustain?; Prathyaksha Krishna Prasad

Conundrum of heritage and development – Will the two coexist to sustain?; Prathyaksha Krishna Prasad

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‘Indian historical architecture and heritage has largely remained outside the government’s purview of legal protection and management. The attitude towards heritage, both tangible and intangible and the lack of ability to translate the voice of good intentions into action has proved to be the underlying reasons for the present situation. Owing to the scenario of rapid urbanization and the growing need for city infrastructure, conservation in the urban context has become the fight of the educated and vociferous minority. Chennai aka Madras, one of the four Metropolitan cities of India, is an apt example of a city with its urban historic core undergoing this conundrum and in Prathyaksha Krishna Prasad’s ‘Conundrum of heritage and development – Will the two co-exist to sustain? – A model of regeneration for the historic core of Chennai‘,  she suggests  ‘Heritage driven Urban Regeneration as a model that addresses the multidisciplinary necessity of the process of Conservation and inclusion of Heritage in the development process, giving importance to what urban heritage can deliver to the city and to the communities in question.

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A constant influx of foreign influences has ensured that the unique culture has kept morphing into a new form, each encapsulating the new along with the old. Even though numerous efforts have been made in order to preserve the cultural heritage of the country, paradoxically to this day, Indian historical architecture and heritage has largely remained outside the government’s purview of legal protection and management. The attitude towards heritage, both tangible and intangible and the lack of ability to translate the voice of good intentions into action has proved to be the underlying reasons for the present situation.

It has always been a practice that constructing monumental structures was to symbolize power and authority. These monumental assets and almost always under the limelight of the government for its protection for reasons of maintaining a historical record, either being places of tourist interest or being the seat of the government. A common man’s dwelling, his cultural associations and representatives of a similar nature are slowly being realised as being worthy of conservation. Efforts have been taken by the City Municipal Corporations through Heritage Cells, collaborations with NGOs and foreign governments for the upkeep of heritage structures and also entire precincts of the city.

Owing to the scenario of rapid urbanization and the growing need for city infrastructure, conservation in the urban context has become the fight of the educated and vociferous minority. The conundrum thus, has not been adequately addressed because of its complexity and the absence of an adequate legislative and administrative framework. Over the past few years, serious concern has been expressed for conservation of urban historic cores and some effort has been seen by the Government and NGOs.

Chennai aka Madras, one of the four Metropolitan cities of India, is an apt example of a city with its urban historic core undergoing this conundrum. The city’s Heritage Conservation committee and various other NGOs like INTACH Chennai Chapter and REACH Foundations, have had minuscule role to play in conservation of the city’s heritage. It is evident that Conservation of Urban Historic cores calls for a multi-disciplinary approach with an active citizen/ community participation. The concept of Urban conservation and regeneration is fairly new to the Indian context. It is interesting to study how these concepts are being adapted to fit the Indian context from western ideologies. Most historic structures are situated within the confines of crowded city streets and buildings. The immediate context and the residing community are just as important as the building itself, as they give a sense of scale and character to the historic structure.

CONUNDRUM OF HERITAGE AND DEVELOPMENT

Poster

Heritage driven Urban Regeneration is a model that addresses the multidisciplinary necessity of the process of Conservation and inclusion of Heritage in the development process, giving importance to what urban heritage can deliver to the city and to the communities in question. Conceiving such an urban regeneration model with heritage as the nucleus to the process of development is the main aim of this thesis.