Centre for Action Research in Conservation and Heritage

Arts Research and Documentation

Grant Period: Over one year

Centre for Action Research in Conservation of Heritage (ARCH) is a registered society working on heritage awareness and conservation projects in West Bengal. It consists of a group of architects, advertising professionals, archaeologists and engineers. ARCH’s latest initiative is a community planning project in a historic neighbourhood in Kolkata in order to conserve and improve the area.

IFA’s grant enables ARCH to research and document the evolution of the area known as Dalhousie Square in Kolkata, focusing on its heritage resources, its architectural styles, its land use, its activity patterns and its special characteristics. The research will support a proposal to UNESCO for the nomination of Dalhousie Square as a World Heritage Site. ARCH’s Secretary, Manish Chakraborti, an architect, urban planner and conservator, will coordinate the project, while architect Ashish Acharjee and historian Debraj Bhattacharya have been recruited as research associates for the project.

Mr. Chakraborti says that the recognition of Dalhousie Square as a World Heritage Site would facilitate the development of more comprehensive and coordinated initiatives for conserving and enhancing the area. The immediate outcome of the project will be an inventory of the heritage buildings with details of their present condition, measured drawings of the footprints of the buildings, photographs, and interpretation of historical data on the buildings. 
The footprints of the heritage buildings and their premises will be done using specialised computer software, and then placed on a map delineating the Dalhousie Square Zone. ARCH will also collect and interpret historical information drawn from the following sources:journals on Kolkata; archival photographs held by different government offices, corporate houses, and research institutions; historical maps of Kolkata; and photographic documentation of Dalhousie Square’s past and present. 

While the ensuing report will be used primarily to apply for World Heritage Site status, it is also expected to help seed campaigns and promotional activities, generate critical awareness and initiate networking with interested groups and organisations at local, national and international levels, towards the development of an action plan for revitalising Dalhousie Square.
The documentation will be used to create campaign materials like posters, pamphlets, brochures, exhibitions and a website. All the information generated by the project will be publicly accessible in the form of a database, which will be housed at ARCH, Calcutta Municipal Council, the Heritage Commission of the Government of West Bengal and the Archaeological Survey of India’s New Delhi and Kolkata Circles. The project’s long term goals are a possible documentary film on Dalhousie Square, a Dalhousie Festival celebrating the shared heritage of the place, and an International Round Table Conference on Dalhousie Square – to generate awareness and garner support for the conservation of the area.