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Directed Research Project based on Nagarkhana

The Masters in Conservation and Regeneration (MCR)course requires the fourth semester students to undertake a Directed Research Project (DRP). Vidisha Purohit, a DRP student had chosen to conduct a research project titled Deliberation of Anastylosis: A Case of Nagarkhana, Darbargadh, Bhuj at one of the CEPT Conservation Site Schools, Nagarkhana. Below is an excerpt from her project:

Nikolaos Balanos, a Greek architect, provided one of the oldest definitions or mentions of the phrase. He described his process as anastylosis in the 19th century, which he described as the re-assembly of the building’s existing but divided parts. Following that, other authors, writers, and scholars defined the term "anastylosis" in their works.

One of them is described by Michaelidis, Filintra, and Christofidou (1987) as “the re-erection of a ruined structure from its original parts found dispersed in the surroundings of the monument.” Anastylosis is similarly described by Plenderleith as the “rebuilding of a fragmented monument from its elements” (1968). In the Feilden’s Dictionary of Building Terminology, the term “anastylosis” is defined as the “re-erection of fallen pieces of a ruin, in order to re-create the original as far as possible” (1994).

The Athens Charter defined it as “ reinstate any original fragments that may be recovered” and the Venice Charter as “...anastylosis that is, the reassembling of existing but dismembered parts....”

Many of the factors such as major decay of the building through earthquake, existence of the original collapsed or dismantled stones, and stakeholders’ narrative of wanting to bring the glory of the building back helped in setting the merit to examine the Anastylosis for Nagarkhana. Nagarkhana having historical, cultural, aesthetical and symbolic value, will be only part of the visual narrative for the visitors and local people and not continued to be functional by any stakeholders. Hence, visual integrity of the structure is vital to preserve along with structural integrity which is possible due to the Anastylosis.

Majority of the stones of the first floor can be identified and found while only few are missing, which creates the ration of existing vs. missing of 70:30. Stones of the domed pavilions of the top floor of the Nagarkhana is largely not available, may be they were not stored or be misplaced in the past. Hence, the possibility to implement anastylosis for the Nagarkhana is only limited to the first floor of the building while domed pavilions of the top floor of the building is not possible or require another method. Here, it is necessary to mention that Anastylosis of the first floor is possible for the only the outer part of the structure where the carving of the stones is distinguishable factor. Inner part of the masonry consists rectangular masonary stone blocks which makes it challenging and even not fruitful to identify its possible location in order to implement Anastylosis. Selecting the same type of stone which is similar to the original stone and locally available can have positive impact on the structure as it does continue the structural and visual harmony of the building. Joinery of these stones with lime mortar and metal pins as similar to the original structural system is the possibly fit case.

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