Configuring Historic Nodes: Case of Orchha
Configuring Historic Nodes: Case of Orchha

Configuring Historic Nodes: Case of Orchha

Design Dissertation: Devika Kale

Guide: Shilpa Chandawarkar

The fabric of any Indian city has multiple layers. Each layer speaks of a bygone era it witnessed. These layers are a crucial link between the past and the present and it plays an essential role in shaping future development.

Heritage is typically associated with built structures, but we fail to understand that it exists in coherence to the indigenous culture and the adjoining local community. There exists a symbiotic relationship between the built and the unbuilt which needs to be delicately managed during development.

In order to conserve structures of historic significance, a heritage ranking is given to these monuments with the intention to highlight their prominence and to protect them from encroachment or demolition in the future. This heritage status impacts the site at various levels. The rate of development of the town increases due to factors like tourism, commercialization, migration, etc. The monument is maintained in a better manner providing an identity to the site confirming its exceptional features but the intangible aspect of the site that comes along is often neglected in this process of development. There is always a conflict between conservation and development. While the government tries to promote tourism and multinational companies start investing, the locals strive to keep up with the changing economy and gentrification.

This thesis intends to recognize the threshold, after which the development of historic cities accelerates. It looks at identifying factors that act as catalysts in the homogenization of these historic settlements. Taking up the case of Orchha in Madhya Pradesh, which was recently added to the tentative list of UNESCO and is now on the verge of development, how can interventions benefit in the growth of the town, keeping its identity and character intact.

The idea is to create a platform for the integration of local and tourist activities helping the collateral growth of both. It also looks at providing a space for a community based resource centre that helps the locals in conserving, sustaining and promoting their heritage. It also aims to draw up policies to help maintain the original fabric of the town. The program proposes functions catering to 3 user groups of Orchha’s multidimensional heritage – the pilgrims, the tourist and the locals. The two cultural spheres of Orchha are integrated through the program proposed for the Heritage centre and the public riverfront.

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