“I am an Indian and all that I am comes from my heritage. It is an intrinsic part of my being and will naturally reflect in my work in many ways. The architect’s role is that of a guardian, he or she is the conscience of the built and the unbuilt environment.”Brinda Somaya, Principal Architect, Somaya & Kalappa Consultants, Mumbai
The restoration work of The Malabari Hall located in the historic Seva Sadan Society is a notable milestone in heritage conservation. Seva Sadan Society supports the mission to empower women and elevate humanity. In 2018, Somaya and Kalappa Consultants were appointed as Architects for the restoration and repair works, after Seva Sadan Society received a donation from Jones Day Foundation. Conscious efforts in planning the restoration of The Malabari Hall have fostered a path-breaking revival of this historic compound. Such undertakings illustrate that conservation is not always monumental; rather it explores the umbilical connection of a community with its past memoirs.
Seva Sadan Society is a non-governmental organisation that has been working towards empowering young women since 1908 breaking the cycle of poverty and social deprivation. Founded by two social activists and philanthropists, Shri Behramji Malabari and Diwan Dayaram Gidumal, the campus provides home, education and skill development to unprivileged girls. Bombay-based Architects K.P. Davar & Co. designed the hall at a cost of INR 88,475. Mindful and diligently planned refurbishment schemes have positioned the 95-year-old building to regain its status and splendour.
The ground floor comprises a Science Lab, a Computer Lab and a Meeting Room. The building houses the Malabari Hall on the first floor, along with a balcony on the mezzanine floor overlooking the hall on three sides. The restoration project was realised in two phases – wherein the Structural, Civil Repairs and Restoration work was carried out during Phase and Phase II included interior refurbishment.
Phase I lasted for 4 months, December 2018 to April 2019 where major structural and lime plaster repair work was undertaken. The roof was waterproofed and repaired. The work also comprised external façade painting as well as internal and external crack repair works.
Phase II extended over a period of six months from April 2019 to October 2019. The works carried out during this phase included internal painting, lighting design as well as internal and external signage. Paints in subtle shades complement the decorative lighting fixtures and elevate the pitched roof. External signage has been redone in steel finish. The addition of a pelmet to the stage has been made to house Seva Sadan Society’s logo that is a lotus in brass finish.
The Malabari Hall after completion of its refurbishment and restoration works was officially re-inaugurated on December 7, 2019. The restoration work has been accoladed with the award of merit at the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation 2020. The Malabari Hall sets out that heritage is not just frozen in time; it can become an engine to foster economic development.
Somaya and Kalappa Consultants
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