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Historic Writer`s Buildings getting ready for facelift

The restoration of the iconic Writers' Buildings, seat of Bengal administration since Independence, has gone a step ahead with the submission of two parts of the four-part final report by an expert committee to the state PWD department.



Kolkata: The restoration of the iconic Writers' Buildings, seat of Bengal administration since Independence, has gone a step ahead with the submission of two parts of the four-part final report by an expert committee to the state PWD department.

The expert committee, assigned to carry out the renovation of the 237-year-old British-built building, is composed of members of the Jadavpur University's architecture, civil, metallurgy and some other departments.

"I have submitted the first and second part of the four-phase final report to the PWD Department recently," Professor Madhumita Ray, Head of the Architecture Department, Jadavpur University, told a news agency.

She said that the remaining two parts along with proposals would be placed before the government soon.

With the completion of the project, Writers' Buildings would be transformed into a modern state secretariat, but at the same time retaining its heritage status, fit to last for at least a few centuries, Ray said.

She said that the committee intended to complete the project within two-and-a-half years and the estimated expenses would be chalked out soon.

Going into the details, Ray said that the committee recommended demolition of additional floors which have come up on the third floor of the main block and five other blocks starting from Block-I to Block-V, besides Block-A to Block-D.

"The heritage structure is getting stressed because of these additional constructions, especially non-heritage ones. A part of the plan is to demolish post-Independence era structures that have cramped up the interiors and obstructed ventilation," she said.

She said that the part-three report would focus on the setting up of a cafe, swimming pool, gardens and library inside the building, while the part-four report would deal with the use of energy conservation technologies.

Besides rooting for energy-efficient technologies like water harvesting and solar panels, the building will have ample light and air - markers of a green building, Ray says.

Experts from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and those of the Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology (IIEST) are also lending a hand with suggestions. Designed by Thomas Lyon, Writers' was constructed on behalf of Richard Barwell, a council member during Warren Hastings' tenure as governor general. The property remained in private hands till 1854 when the East India Company bought it and housed its junior employees or "writers" in the buildings.

By 1906, Writers' had acquired its characteristic Greco-Roman look in elevation (a rather subtle look as compared to the Gothic style) complete with a portico in the central bay and the red surface of the exposed brick.

Prior to the relocation of the state secretariat from Writers' Buildings last year to Nabanna in Howrah at present, a built-up area of around 550,000 sq ft of this heritage structure had housed 34 departments with nearly 6,000 employees.

The rectangular shaped gigantic edifice has a main linear block, including the rotunda, and five other primary blocks that are heritage structures.

Between 1945 and 1947, four new blocks were added connecting the main ones. Finally, post-Independence, another set of four blocks were constructed in the area ensconced by the earlier buildings.

From Zee News

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