Monday, November 17, 2014

Ratish renewal

Conservation architect Ratish Nanda, a native of New Delhi, is heading a massive project by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to restore and revitalize a part of Delhi sandwiched between a busy railway station and a large urban slum without sanitation. The area had been inhabited continuously for 700 years and is the site of 50 historic monuments, including the heavily visited pilgrims site of 14th c. Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya and the tomb of the second Mughal emperor Humayun. With a team of more than 200 and an unspecified budget, Nanda has undertaken an evidence-based restoration of this part of Delhi focusing on its heritage and the culture of its residents. Included in the plan is an area of greenery larger than Central Park in the heart of the city that will open to all castes next year. This project is in direct contrast to other urban renewal projects in India where builders transplant Western ideas of architecture unsuccessfully, including tall glass and steel residential and office buildings. Nanda explains, "You walk across a modern Indian neighborhood, the windowpanes are so large that you can look through people's bedrooms from the streets. That's not how we live."

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