IHBC Yearbook 2021

R E V I E W A N D A N A L Y S I S 35 HERITAGE, PLACE and COMMUNITY AISHWARYA TIPNIS OUR IMAGE or perception of a place is influenced not only by the physical environment but also by the activities that happen there and our own inherent value systems or worldviews. This ‘place identity’ is usually dynamic in nature, constantly being shaped through conscious and unconscious design by their users. It is therefore specific to time as well as place and is continuously evolving. The rhetorical claim that conservation and adaptive reuse of heritage sites helps to preserve the identity of a place and maintain the general character of an area has been adopted in a multitude of policy documents, as well as through schemes promoted by heritage agencies to leverage investment into derelict areas. At the same time, heritage conservation is also criticised for being the starting point of gentrification and social change within deprived areas. Heritage isn’t just about buildings. It is about the people who lived in them then and who live in them now. Rethinking heritage from a placemaking perspective provides an opportunity to engage not only with the physical place, but also with the relationships that the users and stakeholders have with that place – social values being at the centre of the discourse. The conservation and restoration of landmark buildings and street patterns contribute to the sense of place by sustaining the continuity of heritage in the urban environment. Combined with the narratives of the past, the built environment is a crucial element in the collective memory of a place. A sense of place is both rooted in and found amongst the community. THE INDIAN CONTEXT Urban heritage conservation in India is a very nascent field, with the first legislation for protecting urban heritage (as distinct from monumental heritage) being adopted in Mumbai in 1995. Unlike the UK, listing and protection of heritage buildings is not a national but a city level exercise, resulting in cities adopting different approaches to urban heritage conservation. In India there are negligible public resources such as grants or tax incentives for the restoration of listed heritage buildings; area regeneration programmes in some cities are case specific and focus mainly on the public facades of those buildings. In the absence of specific legislation or policy that deals with intangible cultural heritage, the traditional The Lawrence School, Sanawar: established in 1847 on a hilltop in Kasauli in Northern India the campus gives the impression of an English village and is recognised as a heritage zone under the local planning regulations (All photos: Aishwarya Tipnis Architects)