Like the venue in which it was held, the finale of CII’s Young Indians ‘Green Heritage’ project highlighted the fact that relevance does not always decrease with age. The imposing semi-circular corridor of the Museum Theatre was dotted with 23 projects by school children who had used vignettes from the lives of grand old surviving buildings in the city to bring out the inherent ‘green’ features of heritage buildings.

A culmination of three months of effort by the 48 participating schools, the initiative encouraged students to look at heritage buildings in their neighbourhoods.

A culmination of three months of effort by the 48 participating schools, the project documented buildings that ranged from lesser-known private residences to prominent ones such as the Karl Schmidt Memorial.

“The most intriguing piece of furniture that we stumbled across at Underwood Gardens was a table which could accommodate 24 people when unfolded, and only four people otherwise,” said Nivedya Raj, a class IX student of Chettinad Hari Shree Vidyalayam, with a sense of wonder. For students like M. Lakshmanan of the Wesley Higher Secondary School, it was about going that extra mile and waking up before sunrise to photograph how light entered a heritage building at dawn.

Manan R, a class IX student of Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram said that the lighting and ventilation in the private residence they studied in Royapuram was so good that they did not realise that there was power cut in the house until told.

“The students went beyond our expectations and identified features such as the bird baths, materials used for construction and how movable shutters were used to allow natural light in during different parts of the day among many other features,” said Madhana Ratnavel, Chair (Environment), Young Indians, Chennai.

Students of Rosary Matriculation Higher Secondary School who had documented the Church of Our Lady of Light, photographed the doors and windows of the building from all directions to understand natural lighting. Similarly, students of Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School visited S. Radhakrishnan’s residence. observed how “the flooring is made of pre cast, mosaic-like tiling known as terrazzo. It consists of chips of marble, quartz, granite and glass in a cement binder”. A mentor from each of the participating schools was trained by INTACH as well as by Ms. Madhana.

Jennifer McIntyre, Consul General, American Consulate, said that as part of the ‘Green Schools Project’ in the United States, several U.S. schools had secured LEED certification. “Both green and heritage are important words for the U.S. mission in India and we have provided half a million dollars for the restoration of ten culturally important structures across India over the last decade,” she said.

Chettinad Hari Shree Vidyalayam, which documented the residence ‘Underwood Gardens’ secured the first place, while Wesley Higher Secondary School which studied their own school secured the second place and La Chatelaine School which documented the Kurungaleeswarar Temple in Koyambedu bagged the third place. The consolation prizes went to Rosary Matriculation Higher Secondary School who had documented the Church of Our Lady of Light and P.C.K.G. Government Higher Secondary School. who has documented the Madrasa-i-Azam Higher Secondary School.

All the works have been put up on the website, launched at the event. Close to 25 schools participated in the Heritage Environment Quiz and documentary screening also organised as part of the finale.

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Asha SridharJune 28, 2012

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