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Panjab University’s conservation plan: First Gandhi Bhavan, then the other buildings

Concerned over the wear and tear of the lotus-shaped building appearing to be floating on water, the Panjab University has approached various organisations dedicated to conserve buildings.

Written by Shubh Karman Dhaliwal | Chandigarh |
July 25, 2016 7:54:35 am
Gandhi bhavan, Gandhi Bhavan Panjab University, panjab University, architecture, panjab university infrastructure, Panjab University building, news, India news, Chandigarh news,  Gandhi bhavan in Panjab University Chandigarh on Thursday, July 21 2016. (Express Photo by Sahil Walia)

The Panjab University is all set to get the unique-looking Gandhi Bhavan on its campus conserved for future generations. The objective is to keep it modern without compromising on its originality.

Concerned over the wear and tear of this lotus-shaped building appearing to be floating on water, the Panjab University has approached various organisations dedicated to the conservation of the buildings. Conceived and designed by Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret, the Gandhi Bhavan will get technical support from the Development and Research Organisation for Nature, Arts and Heritage, Gurgaon; and the Indian Institute of Technology, IIT, besides other national experts. Jeanneret also designed other buildings of PU, including administrative building, arts and science blocks and hostels.

Some time ago, The J Paul Getty Foundation, US, awarded a grant of $1,80,000 (Rs 86 lakh) to the university under the philanthropic initiative ‘Keeping It Modern’. The Panjab University was the first to receive such a grant in this part of the country.“The grant money has been used to study the prevailing conditions in detail like the number of tiles, how many of them are in good and healthy condition, how many are depleted and to see how we can increase the life of the historic structure even further,” says architect of the university Harpreet Singh, also head of the department of architecture.

“The study was done with the most modern laser techniques, thermal images in which we observed the current positioning of tiles, their conditions with precast terrazzo wash technique. The university authorities have roped in experts like the associated designers of Corbusier’s time to maintain the sanctity of the place,” Singh says.

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Modern ways like modern ceilants, modern materials, injection techniques and pressure techniques are being devised. These techniques are being used to overcome the current shortcomings in the Gandhi Bhawan like the projection facilities, air conditioning. “Another big challenge for the authorities is seepage of water in the pool area for which detailed studies are being conducted to find adequate solutions for the iconic structure of the university,” Singh says.
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Many workshops have been organised in this regard. “With the modern and scientific ways, we can overcome these things and they will be used to keep the originality of the place intact. Plus, we will add some modern comforts as well,” adds Singh.

Gandhi Bhawan is the first initiative taken by the university authorities who are also willing to conserve the other heritage buildings under the grade II category in the university like the Admin Block, Fine arts Museum, AC Joshi Library if they get funds.In addition to this, a new Heritage Furniture Inventory is also coming up at the Panjab University in which the identified heritage furniture will be categorised. They will also be conserved and repaired if need be.

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Apart from this, the Panjab University and Le Corbusier Foundation, Paris, have agreed to collaborate on the sharing of the archives related to Corbusier. An MoU has been signed between the two in this regard. The university is also preparing to sign a similar MoU with Canadian Centre of Architecture where Jeanneret has designed buildings.

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First published on: 25-07-2016 at 07:54:35 am

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