July 11, 2020

App to tell you havelis’ heritage as you tour Walled City ruins

A mobile app might tell you in the near future interesting things about the historic buildings of Shahjahanabad.

We Conserve is an app designed by the School of Planning and Architecture, which maps all listed heritage buildings in the Walled City and also details their historical and architectural features and state of conservation. The project has been on for almost two years and the app would be ready for launch in another six months.

The app would tell a user facets of a building—what type it is, if it has a single or double courtyard, its ornamentation, defects, etc. It would also connect haveli owners to professionals who could assist in the conservation and upkeep. Apart from the havelis, the project would also cover shop-house kind of structures found in main Chandni Chowk.

“We started this project in February 2016 because there was an immense loss of heritage in the Walled City in the last 40 years. We needed to find a way to bring new technology to the people living in here, and help them maintain and understand their heritage. Every year, we hear of new damages to the Walled City, like a collapsed haveli or a building. We felt the immense need to bring innovation to help bridge this gap,” said Anuradha Chaturvedi, head of architectural conservation department, SPA, who is also spearheading the project funded by the HRD ministry.

The project included door-to-door surveys of each of the listed heritage and comprehensive pictorial detailing. The first corporation list of 757 heritage buildings was picked up. Later, it was amended to include over 500 buildings identified by Intach and notified as heritage buildings. WeCare project members went to every building and took pictorial records, spoke to the owners and took note of the buildings’ condition, potential problems and status of conservation. “So far, we have covered about 700 buildings and detailed all our findings. Things like deterioration over age or issue of multiple ownership of havelis and disputed properties are some of the common issues in these structures. Many owners are not aware that their properties are listed heritage buildings and what that means. Others are altering the building with modern constructions, not realising what they are doing,” said Bharti Seekri, conservation architect and a team member.



The buildings were first mapped through GIS and then the content for each was developed. An app developer was then brought in through a tender system. The app would have five main features: locate your building, know your building, building defects, modify your building and contact a professional. “We are trying to ensure that the owners of these heritage buildings provide all the information about their structure, why it’s important and what its unique architectural details are. If any of these listed buildings develop cracks or their current state worsens, the owners can provide this information through the app and we will try to assist them in getting help from government agencies,” said Jithin Kairamkonda, content developer and team member.
source TOI