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Posts Tagged ‘Heritage’

Just like human beings who boast of a life cycle, many of our cities also undergo cyclical changes. These gain importance over a period of time and then end up losing it at times, based on their economic and political fortunes at a given point in time.

But a ready supply of natural resources and the indomitable spirit of those who inhabit our cities ensure that these continue to thrive and do well. Over time, their character might change from that of a major trading centre to a well-known hub of education and scientific research.

Some may suffer repeatedly at the hands of Logi, the Nordic Fire God, and experience devastating fires, only to rise again from the ashes, much like a Phoenix would. Others may witness riots because of a proposal to change the name of the city, leaving The Bard squirming in his grave. Through all these challenges, the city continues to thrive. The resilience of the human spirit reigns supreme.

Recently, yours truly had the opportunity of a leisurely stroll or two through the streets of Trondheim in Norway. One can trace its origins back to the Viking Age circa 997 AD. It served as the capital of Norway until 1217. In the olden days, it appears to have handled the kind of challenges described above with much aplomb.

Here are some visuals which might appeal to some of you.

The Nidelva River

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street Art and Buildings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nidaros Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last one, located within the premises of the Cathedral, is a monument commemorating those who lost their lives during the World War II.

Night view from the Egon revolving restaurant

 

As with most historic cities of the day, Trondheim also appears to be striking a fine balance between preserving its heritage and absorbing contemporary building designs. One merely hopes that forces of crass commercialism are kept on a tight leash by those who matter.

Stay tuned for a saunter down the Trondheim Museum of Arts!

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Winds of hope and change appear to be sweeping the skyline of Pondicherry these days.Sydney_Opera_House

Here is my humble take on what the denizens of this quaint little territory can wish for by way of reinventing Pondicherry.

Entertainment

1. A Sydney-like Opera House could come up at the Old Distillery on the Beach Road. The terrace could be designed in such a way so as to serve as an open air theater. An exhibition hall and a food park could be planned.

2. A sound and light show devoted to the rich history of Pondicherry, starting from the Roman connection and endingAgasta with its independence from French rule. The narration could include the story of Sage Agastya, Ayi, Subramaniam Bharati and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The show could be in three languages every day – Tamil, English and Hindi. Can be planned either at the Old Distillery or at the Botanical Garden.

3. Developing Arikamedu into a heritage walk park.

4. An Oceanarium could be set up. People could walk in and have a look at the rich diversity of undersea marine life.

4. A special tourism circuit showcasing the locations where ‘Life of Pi’ was shot.

5. An annual event of international importance, concerning theater, movies or literature could be planned. Can also capitalize on Ashram and host an international spirituality event where well-known personalities from diverse streams of spirituality could be invited.

6. Existing museums to be upgraded. Interactive museums to be set up, dedicated to our oceans and the Bay of Bengal.

7. A Planetarium would add immense value to the education of young and adults alike.

Infrastructure

8. A six-lane highway bye-passing city areas, starting from near PIMS and ending near Kanniakoil.pondy movie Life_of_Pi_2012

9. Railway link to Chennai via Mahabalipuram.

10. Introduction of Shatabdi-like trains to and from Chennai, with a journey time of less than two hours.

11. A mini golf link near Auroville.

12. Battery operated vehicles in the White Town area.

13. Closure of shops jutting on to Ambour Salai.

14. Convex mirrors at corners of all street junctions in the White Town area.

15. Beautification of the twin canal roads.

16. Feasibility of (a) Metro connecting the General Hospital to far-flung reaches of the territory and (b) An elevated monorail within the boulevard area.

Smart City Project

17. A broadband roll out, backed by IT infrastructure which is designed to assist citizens from cradle to grave. Appsinternet image 2 for traffic conditions, crime reporting and for all other citizen services.

18. All public services to be available on-line, with system being managed by an organization like TCS, just like the Regional Passport Offices.

19. Introduction of re-chargeable Parking Fee cards which can be swiped by vehicles entering such areas as J N Street, M G Road and Mission Street.

20. A new Master Plan for Extended Pondicherry Region (EPR), comprising Villupuram, Tindivanam, Cuddalore and Marakkanam, along the lines of NCR around Delhi.

21. All schemes to include EPR, wherever feasible.

22. Implementation of a scientific garbage disposal plan for EPR.

Would you like to add a few more ideas to this list? Go ahead!

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/puducherry-2025-a-traveller%E2%80%99s-memoirs)

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The recent collapse of the 144-year old Mairie at Pondicherry has raised a basic question – can the stream of Civil Engineering be re-engineered to include a specialization in heritage structures?Mairie hall b4 collapse

Since the advent of civilization, humanity has attempted and perfected the art of building magnificent structures. The pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the Brahideeswara Temple and the Taj Mahal in India are some of the outstanding examples of craftsmanship, architectural design and structural robustness.

Much before the modern stream of civil engineering came up, structures which are labeled as heritage ones today came up. The discipline of civil engineering has evolved over the last 150 years or so. Many advances have been made in building technology and materials. However, what has perhaps not progressed much is the capability of the so-called modern-day civil engineer to understand the basic science and technology of building structures in the past. This has led to a situation whereby assessment and certification of the structural stability of a heritage structure has become a highly subjective area. Called upon to do so by governments and other organizations, a vast majority amongst us are rendered clueless. Gizah_Pyramids

We apply criteria which appear to be untenable. We try to assess the structural stability of a building based on the clouded vision of our own education and experience over the years. In many cases, it proves to be an educated guess which, to the outside world, sounds like an ‘expert’ opinion. The result is often disastrous. Buildings certified to be ‘safe’ by some of us collapse like a house of cards, unable as they are to face the fury of nature at some point in time.

Let us not rush to blame our education system and our academicians for this drawback. Perhaps the fault lies more in our attitude and mindset. Sure enough, there is a serious deficiency in the tools, techniques and tests that we apply to assess the robustness of a heritage structure. Great_Wall

Even at the risk of appearing to be digressing from the main subject, let us draw a parallel from the field of medicine. How do we judge the level of sickness of a patient? Once we ascertain the extent of the ailment, we are in a better position to prescribe a cure for the hapless patient. If allopathy offers a wide array of diagnostic tools, we are surely wise to use the same. But when it comes to medication, allopathy may perhaps end up treating only the symptoms. A real cure may come only from an alternative system of medicine, say, from ayurveda, homeopathy, etc.

In a similar vein, when we apply the modern-day tests and techniques to ascertain the stability of a heritage structure, we get good information. But what we lack is an ‘alternate’ stream of civil engineering which would provide a cure for the ailing structure. Brihadeeswara_temple_Thanjavur

The challenge before us today is to develop an alternate stream of this exalted branch of engineering. What we need to undertake is an in-depth research project which would apply modern-day techniques to heritage structures the world over. Obviously, this has to be done in a non-destructive manner. Right from the structures which came into being more than 5,000 years back to the ones which were built just 150 years back, we need to understand their structural elements, their materials and their building techniques which have gone into making them withstand not only the vagaries of nature but also the abuse by people over centuries.Taj_Mahal

This alone can help us to develop our in-depth understanding of the art and science of heritage structures. A global research project of this nature, if taken up, would help us to re-engineer and reform our present day stream of civil engineering. By bringing in a specialization in heritage structures, we shall lay the foundation of an alternate stream of knowledge.

This would ensure that future civil engineers would be better prepared to assess the stability of priceless heritage structures which have survived so far. This would also ensure their being able to prescribe ways in which the longevity of such structures could be improved upon. Such structures would then be preserved for posterity, enabling our coming generations to marvel at their beauty, aesthetics and stability.

(Thoughts of Mr A K Das, a prominent expert in the realm of Civil Engineering; images courtesy Wikipedia)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/the-soul-of-mairie-speaks)

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