A conceptual framework to approach conservation of Indian modernist heritage
ABSTRACT: Preservation community over the last fifty years have developed philosophical and technical competence in managing various cultural heritage. However, it is yet to come in terms with the challenges pertaining to Modernist architecture, the latest to come under the umbrella of ‘heritage’. Conserving Modernist Heritage involves many technical and philosophical challenges. Lack of recognition and protection, absence of a shared methodological approach, dearth of public appreciation, obsolescence in term of functionality, sustainability and adaptability are some of the challenges that needs to be tackled while dealing with built heritage of the Modernist era. The transplantation and development of modernist architectural principles in every country was deeply influenced by the socio-political and economic agenda of the country. Therefore, concepts of heritage conservation require to be flexible in interpretation and region specific with respect to Modernist heritage. A conceptual framework needs to be developed with full understanding of the socioeconomic, cultural and historical contexts of the region/country under study. This paper aims to develop a conceptual framework to determine appropriate conservation approach for Modernist Heritage in India. Modernist Heritage in India does not qualify the ‘age’ criteria defined by heritage legislations of the country and hence is not protected by the government. With the loss of one of its most significant and iconic modernist landmark, the need for an immediate framework becomes indispensable in India to recognize and protect the remaining significant Modernist heritage resources. The paper is based on a systematic literature review of pertinent sources on concepts such as heritage value assessment, community engagement, authenticity and its association with Indian Modernist heritage. The paper deduces that in order to develop an approach to recognize and protect Modernist Heritage of India, a collective understanding is critical, which involves three key dimensions: established/ existing frameworks, experts and local community.
KEYWORDS: Modernist Architecture, Cultural Heritage, India. Historic Preservation, Document Analysis