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We must maintain our institutions to better standard: Jain

The noted architect, CHIRAG JAIN, who in the past had worked as a consultant for Kala Academy, in an exclusive interview with ‘The Navhind Times’ speaks to RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR on the present condition of Kala Academy. Jain also speaks about the reasons for possible deterioration of the complex as well as the role of the Charles Correa Foundation in repairs of the complex.

Q:  Kala Academy is located near the Arabian Sea. Did the salty winds speed up its deterioration?

The weather conditions along the coast definitely have a significant impact on the life of a building. Unfortunately, the overall construction quality across India not being the best, only aggravates the situation further.

Q: Till 2004, water seeped in the Dinanath Mangueshkar auditorium from its floor. Did this happen as the Mandovi River was just across and the level of this auditorium was not maintained accordingly during its construction?

Prior to 2004, water seeped into the front section of the auditorium where incidentally the floor level was below the water-table level, particularly, during the monsoons and certain high tides. During the 2004 refurbishment, the floor level was raised to mitigate this problem. Effectively, as one looks towards the stage, there has been a reduction in the level difference between the lowest and highest sight lines across the auditorium.

Q: In 2004, just before the inaugural film festival in Goa, major repairs were carried out at Kala Academy. Now after 15 years, has another major repair work become necessary?

Yes, this is certainly required in parts of the complex. Kala Academy is one of India’s most respected and sought after cultural institutions. Given its extensive usage, the problems referred to above – amongst many others) – our limited ability and resources to maintain public institutions, this would be necessary from time to time. Take for example the auditoriums within the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore; irrespective of the event schedule they run the air-conditioning 24×7 to keep the humidity out. While we must maintain our institutions to better standards, equally as a developing nation we just cannot afford this kind of air-conditioning as our priories must lie elsewhere.

Q: Are you of the opinion that any kind of repairs at the Kala Academy can be taken up without demolishing the complex?

As an Architect, I think this may not be necessary. However, a structural engineer would be qualified to take this call.

Q: Is it necessary to maintain the facade and look/ appearance of Kala Academy intact while carrying out its repairs?

Absolutely! Just like we recognise the need to preserve and maintain our historical heritage – such as the Churches of Old Goa and Adil Shah Palace – we also need to preserve and maintain our modern architectural heritage. This need is already widely recognised and an accepted priority by several cities and governments across the world.

Q: Has the complex become risky due to its structural weakness?

Again as an architect, I’m not qualified to take that call, but perhaps this is not the case. A structural engineer would be qualified to take this call.

Q:  Finally, is the Charles Correa Foundation most competent body to take up repair works of Kala Academy?

As a Foundation, they should play an advisory role in retaining the original intent of Correa’s design.

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