India and France will come together yet again to revive their rich cultural ties with a twist, thanks to the efforts of a conservation architect, the French Embassy and Institut Francais.
The four-month-long ‘Bonjour India 2017-18’ project, celebrating Indo-French heritage, will reach its next destination, West Bengal today.
Under its ‘Know your Indo-French Heritage’ workshop, Indian and French architecture students will join hands with locals and kickstart a conservation project to restore French heritage buildings at Chandernagore.
For those that are unaware of Chandernagore’s French connection, it was a former French colony.
This project is a collaboration between conservation architect and UNESCO awardee Aishwarya Tipnis, Institut Francais of Chandernagore and the French consulate. To begin with, it will restore the centuries-old French registry office in Chandernagore.
Architecture students from both countries will work on the restoration as a pilot project, said French Consul General in Kolkata, Damien Syed.
Situated in the corner of Strand Road, the building is among the seven heritage buildings declared by the Heritage Commission of West Bengal. It is also one of the oldest French buildings in Chandernagore.
Currently, the heritage building is on the verge of falling apart. Trees and moss continue to grow over it and the roof is in a state of collapse.
Students from Jadavpur University, Chandernagore College and The Confluence Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Architecture, Lyon, will meet at Chandernagore College to plan the first steps.
“They are expected to come up with innovative design solutions as to how public spaces in the town can be better utilised. One of the outcomes of the workshop would be a sustainable business model for the reuse of the Registry Building. IIM Nagpur will collaborate on that,” Aishwarya Tipnis told PTI.
Students from IIM-Nagpur will also brainstorm sustainable solutions for the Registry Building’s maintenance after it is preserved.
These suggestions from the workshop will be exhibited on the Strand as part of the closing ceremony on January 12 for the general public as well as French ambassador Alexandre Ziegler.
“We will also launch a crowd-funding initiative which will possibly be a first in India for the restoration of a building,” said Aishwarya.
The main aim behind the Bonjour India initiative is to change the perception of heritage, showcasing how it can become a source of economic growth and employment.
“Three projects under the title ‘Know Your Indo-French Heritage’ will provide the foundation for the development of this long-term initiative in Chandernagore,” said Damien Syed.