It gives me pleasure to state that the Planning and Research grant has been awarded to the Gandhi Bhawan, an icon of Pierre Jeanneret’s ouvre in Chandigarh. Selected from among several international buildings, this is the first grant that comes to the country under the ‘Keeping It Modern’ initiative of the Getty Foundation, Los Angeles, USA. Working in close coordination, this endeavour has brought together a multidisciplinary team of architects, conservation experts, historians, engineers, conservators, site managers, and administrators who are proud to be associated with this ongoing project over the last two years.
The learning curve has been exponential! Several unique and new challenges were addressed; technical details and building material specifications unearthed and revealed with the collaboration of archival research, ground and lab testing, as well as detailed onsite observation and documentation. On the extended learning front, four workshops addressing various aspects ranging from historical research to scientific analysis and finally capacity building were organised during the course of the grant. These focussed on aspects such as - Modernism in South Asia, Pierre Jeanneret’s Work on the campus and the city of Chandigarh, Technical aspects of Concrete as a Modern material for construction, as well as Capacity Building of in-house site managers and personnel. National and international participation at these workshops involving specialists, scholars, students and faculty reiterated the scholarship of exchange generated during the various workshop sessions, and plenary lectures. Each workshop was supported with carefully planned; theme based detailed exhibitions which were on display for two-three weeks to build wider appreciation and awareness towards this Getty Grant project. Most importantly this research and planning grant has improved the level of awareness, built a sense of pride towards modern heritage on the campus which is not only abundant but equally valuable.
The midterm review of the Research and Planning Grant was held at London in July 2016, where all the grantees were invited to share their work and experience with the technical experts of the Getty Conservation Institute. This exercise proved fruitful as it gave us an opportunity to discuss threadbare and revisit our Conservation Management Policies. With the experts from Getty, we had excellent opportunities to pose our queries as well as enquire about possible areas where our plan could be strengthened. Upon our return to the University, the Conservation Management Plan was revised and supported with even more rigour, including mock testing and results, sample conservation for furniture, archival drawings, treatment of the pool base, false ceiling for acoustic studies as well as paint and texture samples for wall finishes. The results of the midterm review were exciting, as we now felt better equipped and confident to deal with the complexities and challenges of conserving a modern heritage building.
Last but not the least the extended benefit of the Research and Planning grant for the Gandhi Bhawan has opened a new page on the University’s history. We are hopeful for future implementation grants for the Conservation Management Plan being proposed. At the University we have constituted a Heritage Conservation Management Committee under the chairmanship of the Honourable Vice Chancellor, whereby any intervention would be monitored by the committed and well informed members of this Committee. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our technical consultant DRONAH, The in-house Architecture and Engineering Cells, The Department of Gandhian & Peace Studies, and all those who have helped realise the Conservation Management Plan.