|From||Kiran Joshi, Convener,
National Scientific Committee on 20th Century Heritage, ICOMOS-India &
Professor & Head, Chitkara Centre for Advanced Studies in Architecture,
Chitkara University, Punjab, India
|To||Shri Sanjaybhai Lalbhai,
Chairman, Governing Body,
Arvind Mills Ltd. Ahmedabad
|Shri Kartikeya Sarabhai,
Board of Management, CEPT University,
Director, Centre for Environment Education Nehru Foundation for Development
Thaltej Tekra, Ahmedabad
Re: Appeal for Respecting the Architectural and Cultural Significance of the School of Architecture, CEPT University, Ahmedabad.
Dated: 03 May 2015
Respected Shri Lalbhai Ji and Prof. Sarabhai Ji,
It is with utmost dismay that we, the members of ICOMOS-India’s National Scientific Committee for 20th Century Heritage (NSC20C), have learnt of CEPT University’s proposed plans to make major design-related, structural and other visual modifications to the original CEPT campus buildings, especially to the iconic School of Architecture, designed by Professor B.V.Doshi, the best-known Master Architect of 20th Century India.
It is an acknowledged fact that CEPT’s School of Architecture represents one of the most well known works of Prof. Doshi. Widely recognized as a landmark creation that helped to establish the specific identity and global significance of 20th century Indian Architecture, the School has not only inspired a whole generation of architects in India and South Asia, but continues to be studied and visited by architects and architecture students from the world over. The cultural and historic value of the original building is, thus, undisputed and it merits as much attention as do other ‘heritage structures’.
However, being a building / campus under active use, it is likely that interventions may have become necessary due to changing needs, comfort standards, routine repairs and other compulsions. The situation is not different from that seen in case of other heritage buildings and ensembles of the 20th century, including the Le Corbusier’s Capitol at Chandigarh, or his 2 Unite d’Habitation at Marseilles, or the Sydney Opera House, or several lesser-known examples the world over. However, in all such cases, management of change includes due deference to the tangible and intangible values embedded in the interior spaces, furniture and fittings, the external form, and all other design elements of the original design. In fact, ICOMOS’s International Scientific Committee for 20th Century Heritage (ISC20C) has devised the “Madrid Document” for application to all such cases.
We thus appeal to the CEPT University’s Governing Body and its Board of Management to make concerted efforts to continue to preserve and enhance the cultural, historic and architectural significance of their unique campus. We also request that instead of making hurried and, perhaps, irreversible modifications, a Committee of duly qualified professionals, including conservation professionals, be formed undertake a carefully considered Management Plan to incorporate future needs without compromising the authenticity and integrity of the original design. We further request that the ad-hoc changes be stopped for a period of 4 to 6 months and a cogent mechanism for changes (if required) be brought into place. As was done in the case of the Sydney Opera House it would also be desirable to involve the original architect, Prof. B. V. Doshi, or his nominee, in the decision-making process.
We trust that this appeal will be considered in a positive way and that CEPT University’s Governing Body and Board of Management would extend their full support in conserving and promoting this unique piece of the 20th century architectural heritage of India.
Looking forward to a positive response and with sincere regards
Kiran Joshi Convener,
National Scientific Committee on 20th Century Heritage,