Mumbai architects win big at UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards

Updated: Oct 15, 2019, 16:30 IST | Fiona Fernandez | Mumbai

Fifty-seven entries were submitted from 14 countries in the Asia Pacific region including Australia, China, India and New Zealand

Flora Fountain in South Mumbai
Flora Fountain in South Mumbai

A water fountain. A church. A synagogue. A library. These landmarks echoed the diversity and celebrated the vision of its heritage keepers — all Mumbai-based — who bagged top honours in Penang on Monday at the UNESCO Asia Pacific Region Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation 2019. Fifty-seven entries were submitted from 14 countries in the Asia Pacific region including Australia, China, India and New Zealand.

Mumbai's Brinda Somaya (SNK Consultants) bagged the Award of Distinction for her restoration of the Vikram Sarabhai Library, IIM, Ahmedabad. This, the citation mentioned, heralds an important step forward in the preservation of 20th century architecture in India. Somaya's vision ensured that Louis Kahn's design of the library was rehabilitated from a state of extensive material dilapidation by using exhaustive research and modeling. Abha Narain Lambah, who's restored the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue in Kala Ghoda, won an Award of Merit. She told mid-day, "This not only recognises that the restoration work was of the highest technical standards but also demonstrated the spirit of multiculturalism that Mumbai has always stood for, with non Jewish corporates and citizens associations coming together to save and revive a cultural landmark of the minority Jewish community."

Also winning the same category was Byculla's Gloria (Our Lady of Glory) Church restored by David Cardoz and Ainsley Lewis; the latter received the award on behalf of the Archdiocese of Bombay. Expressing his happiness over Flora Fountain earning a well-deserved Honourable Mention, its conservation architect Vikas Dilawari shared that it was a team effort, and that the careful restoration of the fountain was an important chapter in the revival of the city's many Victorian era fountains.

Rajan Jayakar, Convener, INTACH Mumbai, said that it was a proud moment for heritage lovers in the city and was recognition of the relentless work done by committed conservation architects as well as NGOs like INTACH Mumbai to preserve monuments of historical significance.

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