Practical conservation of heritage buildings in Kolkata started in the 1990s and the first restoration project was the Town Hall, a public building built by the British in 1813, in the central business district by a public‐private partnership. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the restoration process and adaptive reuse of the Town Hall as a case study.
A team of conservationists, architects and structural engineers worked during 1996‐1998. The methodology included surveying and documenting the existing structure; examining old materials and methods of construction, earlier repairs and the suitability of matching new materials; analysing the structure, defects and their causes; prescribing remedial measures; preparing items of work, estimating and tendering for appointment of contractors; allocating funds for restoration; supervision and monitoring of the works.
It was necessary to undertake structural strengthening and physical restoration through corrective measures, and reinstallation of all service systems, which resulted in the opening up of this edifice again for various kinds of public use, that included a museum.
This was a pilot project for the state administration and the people of Kolkata. After this project, the conservation of historic buildings became an agenda of government and civil society. The lessons learned here were applied to the restoration of other similar buildings in Kolkata.
Conservation‐researchers, academics and practitioners will gain from this paper an in‐depth understanding of the restoration process in Kolkata.
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