“Minimal intervention” is a phrase Vikas Dilawari uses repeatedly. The noted conservation architect believes his work is well done when it is invisible.

“A conservation architect cannot be an egoist. ‘What have you done?’ is what a visitor should ask after we have completed the work,” says the award-winning architect who restored Durbar Hall in the city as part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. His work on restoring buildings in Mumbai won him the Award of Distinction in the 2012 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

What the renowned architect found interesting about the Durbar Hall project was that the building’s ambience had to be kept alive while making it an art gallery of international standards. “The work had to be discreet and reversible,” he says. The architect was in the city to take part in the biennale in its concluding week.

‘People make spaces’

Mr. Dilawari feels that the Biennale has infused new life into some of the heritage buildings in Kochi. “It is good to see the local inhabitants become participants too. We design places. It is the people that make them spaces,” he says.

Travelling around the city, he found that people in at least parts of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry had managed to preserve the local heritage while being sensitive to development.

More In: Kochi