Adaptive reuse protects architectural, social, cultural, and historical assets. When adaptive reuse is applied to heritage buildings, it preserves the structure and the original creators’ effort, skill, and passion. Communities, governments, and developers may benefit from adaptive reuse in their efforts to lessen the environmental, social, and economic consequences of continuous urban development and expansion. Adaptive reuse may restore old buildings into accessible and usable spaces while sustainably revitalizing a region. Many cities have realized that repurposing heritage buildings is essential to any regeneration effort. However, many building owners and developers still consider reusing heritage buildings as an unviable choice since planning and construction laws may limit their functionality.

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Neemrana fort: After Restoration _©kaarwan
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Neemrana fort: Before Restoration _©courtauld

According to the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH), heritage buildings give a valuable window into the past, provide character to communities, and should thus be preserved for future generations. The convergence of historic preservation with environmental issues has become an inherent part of a sustainability strategy.

Many buildings of cultural and historic value are being modified and utilized rather than demolished as part of a more significant revitalization effort to promote sustainability within the built environment. Adaptive reuse generates commercially viable investment assets for both owners and consumers. Historic structures can be “recycled” for various purposes, including offices, hospitals, enterprises, and housing. Building modifications might include extensive interior space reorganization and service improvements or replacement. Alternatively, adaptive reuse may need minimal repair work in which nothing but the building’s functional usage changes. Adaptive reuse means that previously abandoned homes may be made habitable and sustainable again.

Case study

The Havelis of Shekhawati 

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View of Shekhawati haveli used as school _©anna clopet
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View of Shekhawati haveli used as school _©anna clopet

The historic Havelis (mansions) with beautiful painted paintings on the walls are the primary attraction of the Shekhawati area. The history of the region is intriguing. It was founded in the 18th century along a caravan trade route and was administered by the Shekhawat Rajputs. With over 100 villages and 50 forts and palaces, the region was affluent.

Many members from the adjacent Marwar group relocated to Shekhawati and settled there throughout the following century. These wealthy businessmen commissioned painters to paint frescoes on their mansions to symbolize their wealth. Painted Havelis sprung out all over the desert. For over 300 years, the art was preserved. However, as time passed, more and more families relocated. Many homes are being abandoned these days.

The Havelis in Rajasthan’s Shekhawati area are like seeing a place covered with beautiful street art. Mandava and Nawalgarh have outdoor art galleries and museums with unique paintings. Haveli were affluent merchants’ houses that artists embellished in the nineteenth century. Fortunately, several of them have been converted into hotels or museums, allowing them to be restored. Others serve as banks, schools, or government structures. Hundreds more were made available. They not only have a legacy to protect, but they also give value to the city’s culture. These contribute to the place identity of the location, and by reusing them, one may not only conserve them but also add value to the ancestral property.

In this situation, adaptive reuse aids in preserving culture, and these Havelis reflect not only the tale of past times but also aid in creating new stories. The prominence of Shekhawati’s Havelis grew over time, and adaptive reuse assisted in preserving its culture and character.

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View of Shekhawati haveli _©first post
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View of Shekhawati haveli _©Trip savvy

Six Senses Fort Barwara, Sawai Madhopur

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Six Senses Fort Barwara, Sawai Madhopur  _©trip advisor
Six Senses Fort Barwara, Sawai Madhopur _©trip advisor

A stunning 14th-century fort that has been tastefully turned into a Six Senses well-being retreat. It was once owned by a Rajasthani royal family and overlooks the Chauth ka Barwara Mandir shrine. Within the fort’s walls, a large restoration effort includes two palaces and two temples.

The Six Senses resort in Rajasthan was designed to replicate the graceful and regal aura of a bygone age spanning back 700 years. Six Senses Fort Barwara showcases the history and legacy of the Barwara people as it has evolved through generations. The 700-year-old palace and temples have been responsibly restored using traditional Rajasthani building techniques while sensitively incorporating efficient design elements such as rainwater collection tanks and solar panels to complement rather than detract from the beautiful and historic architecture. From this enormous conservation effort that reinterprets the graceful and regal ambiance of a bygone age to endeavor to safeguard the larger Barwara community, lake, and landscape, cultural preservation of the area has enhanced tourism and spiritual journey, and the wildlife journey of the region that was previously neglected. The cultural preservation of this palace led to change in the place’s future.

Conclusion

To a considerable extent, the sustainability of local communities is determined by their sense of place and importance to their community. History provides a significant cause for local communities to care for their local environment and lead more sustainable lives by providing a powerful connection to their physical surroundings through visual amenity and the fascination and uniqueness afforded by heritage buildings and streetscapes. Heritage structures are cultural symbols that influence community well-being, sense of place, and social sustainability. Heritage provides local communities with a compelling motivation to care for their environment and live more sustainably.

People have a more profound connection to their local surroundings through history, which contrasts with the mentality associated with current building stock, which can be copied everywhere and hence gives no particular link to the local area.

Heritage buildings are cultural symbols, and their preservation influences community well-being, sense of place, and social sustainability.

Because of the significance of these variables, it is preferred to reuse heritage buildings rather than replace them, despite poor plot ratios and inefficiency.

References:

  1. 2022. [online] Available at: [Accessed 08 July 2022].
  2. Culture in Development. 2022. Adaptive Reuse and Cultural Heritage – Culture in Development . [online] Available at: [Accessed 08 July 2022].
  3. Issuu. 2022. Design Principles of Adaptive Reuse: Case Studies on Dockyard . [online] Available at: [Accessed 07 July 2022].
Author

Sakshi Jain is a fifth-year architecture student at the Mysore School of Architecture in Mysuru. She believes in creating experiences and exploring - big and small - which explains her love of language. With a rekindled love of reading and a desire to travel, she intends to go places and share her experiences.

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