Policies to Retain Architect’s Vision
Pierre Jeanneret’s vision and conceptual approach to the form, symbolism and innovative construction technology of the Gandhi Bhawan shall underpin the overall approach towards its conservation, use and interpretation and any interventions made in the process. As stated in Section 3 of this report, Jeanneret’s focus on the Gandhi Bhawan was on its curvilinear form, juxtaposed by the reflecting pool and, further set apart from its neighbouring structures through a contrasting use of exterior finishes and colour. Indeed, it is the sculptural form of the Gandhi Bhawan, intended to represent a lotus, that most contributes to its architectural value.
Furthermore, Jeanneret stressed on the ‘richness of spirit, invention and imagination’ as opposed to the ‘richness of materials’ (Jeanneret 1962). The use of inexpensive cladding material in Gandhi Bhawan as well as the simple interior finishes and flooring all respond to Jeanneret’s highly creative approach to design, where modest material could achieve monumentality of expression through inventive usage. Thus, the overarching policies for Gandhi Bhawan will respond to these identified values and to the vision of its architect.
Overarching Conservation Policies
- All conservation, use and interpretation proposals for the Gandhi Bhawan shall be mindful of its sculptural form and its symbolism as conceptualised by Pierre Jeanneret and his team. No additions or subtractions may be permitted in the structure or its setting that could diminish its formal composition in any manner.
- Maintaining the authenticity of Gandhi Bhawan and all its elements should spearhead any physical intervention. Aspects of the building, interiors, landscape and fittings that positively contribute to its significance should be handled with caution. Wherever possible, stabilising and consolidation should be prioritised over reconstruction or replacement. Repairs and modifications that negatively affect the authenticity of the form, material, setting and spirit of the structure, or the original quality of its architecture should be removed.
- While Jeanneret intended the Gandhi Bhawan as a memorial, he also envisioned it as an institution of learning and dissemination of Gandhian philosophies. This idea is enshrined within the simple, yet effective layout of the interior spaces, many of which continue to be in usage as they were intended. This authenticity of use and function should be maintained at the core of conservation planning for Gandhi Bhawan.
The policies for Gandhi Bhawan draw upon the existing Guidelines for conservation of twentieth century structures, such as the Madrid Document (Second Edition) of the ICOMOS-ISC20C and the Eindhoven-Seoul Statement 2014of the DoCoMoMo International, while referencing existing international charters and frameworks, including the Venice Charter, the Burra Charter and the Nara Document. The policies for Gandhi Bhawan must also address its status as a Protected Grade I Building under the Chandigarh Masterplan 2030. Furthermore, given the status of Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex as a recently inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site, the policies should take into account the increasing recognition and emphasis on artefacts of the Modernist Period in India. Finally and, most critically, the policies are informed by the significance and assessment presented in this document.
Conservation actions for the Gandhi Bhawan shall be based on rigorous documentation and research on various aspects of the building as well as a broader understanding of its geographical, historical and architectural context while also taking into account its present and future operational requirements. The overall policies for conservation, use and management for Gandhi Bhawan are:
- Conservation of the Gandhi Bhawan will strive to convey the significance of the Modern Movement to a wider public audience as well as professionals and academics. It will endeavour to foster and disseminate the development of appropriate techniques for conserving twentieth century heritage within the South Asian context.
- Any conservation activity or future intervention shall take into account the authenticity of the built fabric, furniture, fixtures and finishes and, shall strive to enhance and sustain its cultural significance. Interventions shall be undertaken after establishing clear limits for ‘acceptable change’, ensuring that these are sensitive to the values of the Gandhi Bhawan while responding to it being a vital, functioning part of the Panjab University Campus.
- The conservation, use and management of Gandhi Bhawan in its landscape shall respect the original intention of its designers and patrons. However, it will strive to address environmental sustainability concerns and try to balance the two as far as possible.
- The potential impact of any physical intervention, repair, addition or alteration on the significance of the Gandhi Bhawan should be described in detail and critically assessed before commencing work.
- The nature of intervention in each area should respond to the level of significance of that element and the impact of the intervention on its significance.
- Given the finite years of life of certain materials used in the construction of Gandhi Bhawan, it is advisable to generate samples based on laboratory results of the constituent materials and test these samples for compatibility with the original material in terms of strength, performance and appearance.
- Any physical intervention to Gandhi Bhawan and its surrounding should be documented rigorously, with the documentation forming part of the archival material on the building. This documentation may serve as a benchmark for future interventions as well as resource material for professionals and academics. Conservation and interventions to the original fabric should be identifiable on close inspection or communicated through documentation and interpretation.
- The value of significant layers of change and the patina of age should be respected and addressed mindfully.