A Nation’s history is something we are constantly proud of and needs to pass along from generation to generation. A heritage building is also a history chapter educating people about aesthetics, architecture, archaeology, social, spiritual, and even political background. A person above the age of 100 must maintain their lifespan, or they will degrade both outwardly and inside. Similarly, because of its cultural identity and continuity, a structure emotionally attached to the community to have a sustainable approach or confront present fabrics dying one day.

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Present situation of Sun temple, Gujarat_©Anmol Billa

Due to the global environmental problem, sustainable development has become the objective while also being at the forefront. Reducing carbon emissions to a bare minimum and optimizing energy conservation and renewable energy sources aid in the preservation of regions such as heritage buildings suffering from Green Building inadequacies. Crag Langston, a professor, states “From a sustainability perspective, it is preferable to minimize new additions to the already built stock, but at the same time to remove those layers of poorer quality stock that absorb excessive operating resources.”

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Sustaining architectural heritage_©Icomos.org

But, Who is decaying me(heritage buildings)? 

1) Natural disasters, as manifested by their most destructive energies, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and landslides.

2) Radiation (particularly short-wave), temperature, moisture (rain, ice, clouds, groundwater, and snow), sunshine, and wind are examples of natural agents.

3) Humans, via their Industrial practices, ignorance, and incompetence, inflicts widespread devastation, vandalism, and fire.

Image 3_Deterioration of Kashmere Gate, Old Delhi_©Anmol Billa

When ’16 Articles’ introduced me(heritage buildings) in 1964 

In the “Second International Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments, Venice,” UNESCO and ICOMOS announced ’16 articles’ protecting and restoring monuments and sites, not less than an art, for historical evidence.

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Few Articles of 1964 meet_©Icomos.org

Encapsulating all the articles, they came up with:-

  1. i) An Architectural heritage shall be conserved while facilitating it for socially-useful purposes. Moreover, a small piece or the whole monument cannot be removed, demolished, or modified, altering its texture, color, and mass. Items of sculpture, painting, or decoration being an integral part of a monument can only preserve if taken from the place.
  2. ii) The restoration procedure, guided by a thorough study of archaeology and history, will focus on maintaining and revealing the monument’s aesthetical and historical values through original and authentic documents. If traditional approaches are insufficient for restoration, then modern techniques (backed by scientific evidence and experience) can take place. Integrating the new sections as a replacement should blend in with the structure gracefully, without disrupting the fascinating features, traditional location, balance, or the relationship with its surroundings.

iii) The Historical sites must be provided the special care to safeguard their integrity in a clear and presentable decorous manner. Excavations should be carried out by scientific standards, and ruins of the structure must be measured and maintained for permanent conservation and protection. All the works, from preservation to restoration or excavation, are to be documented for analytical and critical reports, illustrated with drawings and photographs.

It is 21st century, but I(heritage buildings) still suffer. Why? 

Vibrations: One of the most threatening challenges for the Archaeological buildings is the higher rates of traffic intensities, causing ‘Vibrations’. Different types of roads varying in shape, nature, and obstacles, with varied speed, weight, and load by vehicles, majorly impacts the nature of the soil and building conditions. Vibrations from vehicles (cars, buses, and metros) are eroding the foundations of ancient buildings in today’s world, and they may soon be destroyed.

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Transmitting of Vibration waves_©Conservation of Architectural Heritage

Technological evolutions: The period of the First and Second Industrial Revolution introduced new manufacturing processes and availability of new materials but abolished technical, dimensional, and aesthetical ways used in traditional buildings. Moreover, an escalation of contemporary architecture let the architectural heritage dissipate and enter into a smaller void away from the community. The evolution of technology and depletion of architectural heritage for the entire 20th century made us believe two factors: First, the cultured society only can understand the architectural heritage; Secondly, Hyper-specialising technical and architectural capabilities are required to design or administer it.

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Lost heritage of James Skinner’s mansion_©Anmol Billa

Support: It is impossible to save a place’s heritage until all three of these factors are in sync: governments, market forces, and the general public, who do not regard historical knowledge as modern. Till the time the efforts for it are in one corner, the Conservation Architects are missing the fine line between development and conservation on the other. For example, the Central Government of India’s recent revocation of Delhi’s designation as a “Heritage city” highlights many people’s worry of conservation becoming equated with a barrier to further growth. When will the public’s perception of Restorative theories shift to ‘Neo-Value’ Heritage conservation ideas?

Missing: The Interlocutor is missing at present, due to increasingly decreased interaction between our history and the community, through either preserving a monument on totally closed premises or at a museum or within public prevention zones, as a result, missing and losing the opportunity in the practices of the heritage.

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Conservation at closed premises_©Sunday Guardian

Embodied energy: Traditional buildings use less energy-intensive materials (Timber, Concrete, and Brick) than modern buildings (Steel, Glass, or Aluminium), resulting in less maintenance, repair, and embodied energy. However, the existing rating tools, such as Accurate, First Rate 5, NABERS, BERSPro, and so forth, focused on the operational energy performance of the heritage buildings rather than the importance of energy embodied in their materials. The physical lifespans of historical buildings (100-150 years) and modern structures (40-60 years) will also entice us to investigate where the gap lies.

How sustainability(my friend) and its degrees of Intervention and Conservation work.

Preserving a heritage building requires different levels of Intervention, and the higher its degree, the lower will be the sustainability. The seven ranked degrees are:

  1. Prevention of deterioration
  2. Preservation of the existing state
  3. Consolidation of fabric
  4. Restoration
  5. Rehabilitation
  6. Reproduction
  7. Reconstruction
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The Degrees of Intervention and Sustainability_©IJERT

On the other hand, the five sustainable measures for improvement in energy efficiency and achieving integration of sustainability and heritage conservation are:

  1. Embodied Energy Conservation (EEC)
  2. Optimizing Existing Traditional Building (OETBP)
  3. Reducing Energy Consumption in Existing Buildings (REC)
  4. Maximizing Energy and Water Efficiencies in New work to Existing Building (MEWE)
  5. Monitoring of Energy and Water Consumption (MEWC)


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Before and after Restoration, The Sinnary house_©IJERT
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Before and after Restoration, The Sinnary house_©IJERT
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Table of Sustainability Review of Heritage Building for The Sinnary House_©IJERT

What solutions can sustainability(my friend) provide me(heritage buildings)?

The Green Approach: A change of vision by clients and designers is required from rationalistic consumption to environmental protection. Adaptive reusability in heritage structures is one of the best ways to hike sustainability as it extends the useful life and drops costs relating to materials, energy, transportation, and pollution while relating to the erection of new buildings.

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Adaptive Reuse of an Industrial building_©vfw6250.org

Protection: Archaeological and historical structures require protection from heavy modes of transport causing vibrations. These vibrations can be declined or nullified by Lightweight slow-motions vehicles(25-50km/h at maximum) on nearby roads, developed tires of vehicles, using isolation layers reducing noise-causing vibrations, and Electric operated engines than gas ones.

Sustainable Tourism: The traditional urban fabric with modern purposes helps in the provision of Sustainable tourism. The advantages of incorporating historical heritages with tourism development include: preventing deterioration of natural; traditional and historical elements; helping residents with education, finances, and employment; the revival of sites through the play of artificial lights; and preserving their(buildings) identity.

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Heritage tourism_©Anmol Billa

Policies and practices: Through financial support by political commitments at the national level, it helps to protect built heritage. The integrated approach of municipal conservation activities with the private sector via partnership arrangements provides financial incentives, low-interest loans, grants, tax deductions, VAT, and more. These policies and practices are used widely in the European Union.

Question Yourself 

Why is the past losing its feeling of collective memory and belonging while becoming weak and unaccountable?

A collapsed heritage building_©Aljazeera America


  1. Hawkes, D., Bougdah, H., Rosso, F., Cavalagli, N., Yousef M. Ghoneem, M., Alalouch, C. and Mohareb, N., 2019. Conservation of Architectural Heritage. Cham: Springer.
  2. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262380295_Reinterpreting_the_value_of_built_heritage_for_sustainable_development> [Accessed 10 April 2022].
  3. Ehab M. Okba, Mohga E. Embaby, 2013, Sustainability and Heritage Buildings, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY (IJERT) Volume 02, Issue 08 (August 2013).
  4. Witpress.com. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.witpress.com/Secure/elibrary/papers/ST18/ST18020FU1.pdf> [Accessed 10 April 2022].
  5. Sigmund, Zvonko. (2016). Sustainability in architectural heritage: review of policies and practices. Organization, Technology and Management in Construction: an International Journal. 8. 10.1515/otmcj-2016-0007.
  6. 2022. [ebook] Available at: <http://file:///D:/Learning/Architecture/Architectural%20Journalism/RTF%20(14.03.2022-%2020.06.2022)/10.04.2022-%204th%20Article/Extras/hommedecin.pdf> [Accessed 10 April 2022].

Anmol Billa is an architect by profession, but he is also a student with a thirst for knowledge. He portrays architecture as a synthesis of art and technology, with a primary focus on the needs of the community. He enjoys upgrading himself regularly by carefully analyzing numerous parameters ranging from context to culture, origins to contemporary life, and accessibility to sustainability. "If my design fails to bring betterment and connectedness to society, I fail," he says.