Mumbai monuments win big at UNESCO restoration awards

Victorian-era beauty: Flora Fountain received an honourable mention at the award ceremony.

Victorian-era beauty: Flora Fountain received an honourable mention at the award ceremony.   | Photo Credit: pn

Fort synagogue, Gloria Church receive awards of merit

Mumbai dominated UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation held in Malaysia on Monday, with efforts to restore the city’s monuments winning three awards. The Keneseth Eliyahoo synagogue in Fort and Our Lady of Glory Church in Byculla received awards of merit while Flora Fountain received an honourable mention. Ahmedabad’s Vikram Sarabhai Library won the award of distinction.

The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme recognises the efforts of private individuals and organisations that have restored and conserved structures of heritage value in the region. This year marked 20 years of the awards and the jury met in August to review 57 entries from 14 countries across the Asia-Pacific. At least 16 projects from five countries, Australia, Bhutan, China, India and New Zealand, were recognised by the international jury of conservation experts in this year’s awards. The renewal of the historic Tai Kwun — Centre for Heritage and Arts in Hong Kong won the Award of Excellence.

From India, Ahmedabad’s Vikram Sarabhai Library won the award of distinction. From Mumbai, the awards of merit were conferred upon Keneseth Eliyahoo synagogue and Our Lady of Glory Church.

The noting along with the synagogue’s award reads, “The restoration of Keneseth Eliyahoo synagogue celebrates the cultural plurality of Mumbai. From a state of dilapidation with extensive material decay and structural damage, the mid-19th century Classical Revival structure has been successfully revitalised in a technically proficient manner.” Solomon Sopher, president of the synagogue said, “It is a great honour for us and we are very happy. The entire restoration took about 15 months, at the end of which, people said they had never seen a better looking synagogue. The team of Abha Lambah did the restoration, and we got a generous sponsor.”

The noting along with Our Lady of Glory Church reads, “One of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in Mumbai, this church has been lovingly restored to its original splendour. The project demonstrates state-of-the-art conservation practice in its methodical process, attention to detail and commitment to using like-for-like materials.”

David Cardoz, the conservation architect who worked on the restoration said, “The church was suffering from a lot of leakage. All its windows had to be re-fitted to open outwards to prevent that. In order to prevent the stained glass from buckling, we had to give it reinforcement and put polycarbonate sheet behind it. We worked on the church from 2013 to 2018 but did not close the church for the job, which was a challenge.” Parishioners had collected donations for the restoration.

Flora Fountain received the honourable mention as, “The careful restoration of Mumbai’s iconic Flora Fountain completes the series of conservation interventions to revive the city’s many Victorian era fountains, a collection of ornate civic monuments unique in India...The project has not only recovered the fountain’s artistic beauty, but has also validated its continuing role in the life of the community and its prominent place in the urban fabric of Mumbai.”

Vikas Dilawari, who worked as a consultant for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on this project said, “We are happy that this project could be done without floating tenders, by giving architects freedom to do it. Correcting the fountain’s water engineering was the biggest challenge. After Willingdon fountain and Mulji Jetha fountain, this was the third one to be restored.”

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 1:53:38 PM |

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