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Historic Preservation
 
Historic building: demolition vs protection
What is the definition of a 'historic' building' in India, and other countries?
What kind of laws protect the historic buildings?

Are there any case studies where a building 50 or 100+ years old was protected from demolition by law enforcement? What if the building is privately held (say a school) but publicly funded to some extents?
P Das
Responses
 
Historic building: demolition vs protection
I assume; in US, 50 years, or older buildings can be declared as 'historic'. I have also seen privately owned neighborhoods with strict design/development guidelines enforced so as to preserve the historic character.
P Das
Historic building: demolition vs protection
I am appending my query to yours because I am trying to find out more about the restoration of the Al Fatah mosque in Damietta near Cairo. It was an important mosque in the 7th century and was used by St. Louis and the crusaders as a church. I read that it had been recently restored but couldn't find any reference in the digital library.
Jayasri Hart
Historic building: demolition vs protection
The central govt of India does have the power to intervene in the fate of a buidling that maybe of historic or architectural value, but is privately owned. http://asi.nic.in/asi_legislations.asp A public interest litigation could get the govt involved.
Minu Agarwal
Historic building: demolition vs protection
That is a good piece of information.

But, these ASI laws talk about buildings of archaelogical importance only. This has been criticised by several conservation specialist including Prof. A.G. K. Menon.
He says "Perhaps the colonial government restricted its conservation work because it was dealing with an alien culture and believed a focus on only exemplary Indian monuments to be adequate. But why does ASI adopt the same vision in independent India? Like the colonial conservators, it too avoids engaging with the hundreds of thousands of less than exemplary monuments that exist in the crowded heritage precincts of our historic cities. These remain as incomprehensible to the ASI as they were to its colonial predecessors ".

I would also be interested in knowing the laws that protect buildings which are essentially a part of modern history... 100 years old, or so.
I am sure there are laws in US and European countries that protect such buildings from demolition/alteration.
P Das
Historic building: demolition vs protection
Dear Prashant,

It would be useful to know why you are seeking such information. Is it for study purposes or otherwise?

There is no agreed upon definition of historic building in India. This is primarily coz there are limited laws and regulations in the country on heritage conservation that would lay down such a definition. A few like the ASI's Act and the corresponding state acts enable structures 100 years or older to be declared as "protected" heritage. However, only those structures deemed to be of national or regional importance are protected, maintained and managed by the concerned agencies like ASI and state departments of archaeology.

Indeed these concern themselves primarily with archaeological and monumental heritage. They have a limited mandate because the law makes it so. To expect a handful of agencies at national level to look after the ENTIRE built heritage of the country is crazy!

The way out is to protect built heritage at local level. This is achievable through the tool of statutory planning. It is another matter that application is limited. Bombay could be a useful example.

This thread is an insufficient space to elaborate more on the subject. You shall find more if you peruse the town planning laws in the country.

As far as ownerships are concerned, it has no legal or institutional bearing on protection except ground level action.

Please open your eyes; analyze information for yourself, it is sooo easily available in public domain especially with the RTI Act. Do not rely too much on other people's interpretation [including mine ;)] to reach conclusions.
Shubhru Gupta
Historic building: demolition vs protection
Hi,

I was extremely glad to chance upon this discussion forum since it begins to raise some of the fundamental questions I am trying to address in my masters thesis. I am critiquing the formalised preservation policies of India as defined by the legislation and upheld largely by the ASI.

I was shocked to find certain gaping loopholes in the system beginning with the one raised by Prashant Das. While the legislation defines an 'ancient monument', it defines more of what comprises an 'ancient monument' rather than what qualifies it to be so.

�Ancient Monument� means any structure, erection or
monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave,
rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical,
archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in
existence for not less than 100 years and includes�
(i) remains of an ancient monument,
(ii) site of an ancient monument,
(iii) such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient
monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or
otherwise preserving such monument, and
(iv) the means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an
ancient monument;
--- the Ancient Monuments and
Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

Prashant's question brings us to the eternal question facing preservationists world wide: What to we preserve and why do we preserve it? It is yet to be answered satisfactorily.

Also I am curious to find out what makes a 100 year old building more valuable than a 99 year old building. The Rashtrapati Bhavan is not a building worthy of ASI's protection according to the 1958 laws. Something to think about!

Prashant, I was wondering if you could cite the source of Prof. A.G.K. Menon's comment. If it is not a verbal comment and is from an article or book, I should be very interested in reading it.

Thanks for posing the question Prashant and to Shubhru Gupta: those were some interesting observations too.
Kingkini Roy
Historic building: demolition vs protection
In Britain there are laws protecting historic "listed" buildings in degrees known as Grade One, Two, three.

I believe a Grade One building can only be touched for restoration work using traditional methods & materials.

I believe Grade Three is for any building where the facade must be kept intact and the interior is then gutted.

In essence, in order to preserve all of the historic buildings of any one country, there first needs to be a catalogue done and then assessment.

For example, many Ottoman houses in Turkey have either been completely destroyed and replaced by ugly and soulless concrete buildings, or modern materials used for repair can cause more damage and look ugly as well.
Frank John Snelling
Historic building: demolition vs protection
In Canada there are laws protecting historic buildings similar to Britain (i.e. Grade One, Two, etc.)

Where some buildings can only be restored using methods & materials that are closest to the existing.

In most cases the building facade must be kept intact and retrofit measures shall be applied to the interior side of the exterior separators (i.e. thermal insulation and air barrier).

Afarin Maleki
Afarin Maleki-Raei
Historic building: demolition vs protection
Afarin Maleki
Afarin Maleki-Raei
Historic building: demolition vs protection
Just because a building is old should it be preserved?
T C
Historic building: demolition vs protection
well, I do not think "historic" and "old" are synonyms. Perhaps, this debate is about when the two should be considered overlapping.
P Das
Historic building: demolition vs protection
Ok mr. Das. Point noted.
T C
Historic building: demolition vs protection
It is a great honor to preserve the historic bldg.instead to demolish. We can make it into a museum or a trademark in that particular place.
Dixon Bacus
Historic building: demolition vs protection
It is most important to question what to conserve. Otherwise the whole dynamism of culture will be lost and architecture shall eventually stagnate.

As we question so many designs in the present, the same axiom should apply to the past as well. Which means everything old need not be conserved.
Shubhru Gupta
Historic building: demolition vs protection
Who decides whats historical and whats not?
T C
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