“ We all are living histories,” often determined by our pasts & influenced by our future. Isn’t it our responsibility to protect our past to pave the way for our future? Well, our built heritage is one of the living examples of our past, representing a variety of values, traditions and cultures embodied in various buildings, structures & historic sites that surround us.

Winner | RTF Essay Writing Competition May 2021

Category: Essay: Complex Pasts – Diverse Futures
Participant: Anvitha Ravipati
Profession: Architect
City: Vijayawada

Heritage is not just confined to a location or a territory, it is beyond the boundaries and open to the world as a whole. “World heritage belongs to all the people of the world.” And it must be identified, protected, conserved and passed down to our future generations as a guide to build their diverse futures.

With quick growing population and rapid urbanisation, the cities, states and countries are getting busy, focusing on the future development of their respective nations, leaving their built heritage behind, to deteriorate and disappear over the period of time. Hence the lack of interpretation of our past leaves us with many unanswered questions and voids that cannot be filled.

World heritage is not only confined to buildings/ monuments, but also includes sites like battlefields, parks, gardens, public plazas, markets etc. And these monuments and sites stand with decades of history, culture and heritage, stating their importance of inclusion, for the diverse future, that our generation needs.

As we all know history speaks volumes and this shouldn’t be lost in translation, it is the responsibility of each and everyone of us to take up our roles and act as a bridge between the past and the future, of our endless history and culture of the built environment that enriches our experience and knowledge in understanding our roots, by conserving our complex pasts and building our diverse futures.

Addressing worlds heritage, that goes down to every corner of the world, displaying a variety of cultures and values of various indigenous people from different times, sharing their experiences, knowledge and philosophy behind their existence. This urges us to have open and complex conversations of the past, with no judgments, but understanding its diversity, to built our futures.

As architects we need to share stories from the past, for common people to understand the value they inherit in the form of various built monuments, structures and sites in and around their vicinity. As young designers and architects of future, it creates a wonderful opportunity to dig into our past, to under the reason behind the design of the particular space, in that particular time. It also helps us to broaden the horizon of our creative perspectives, in order to understand the people, we design for, with respect to their context and history, and its constantly evolving socio-economic trends. Starting from the renovation of our ancestral homes to public spaces like ( plazas, markets, monuments, structures, gardens, parks and ancient historical sites) that carry our stories from the past.

Shared Culture, Shared Heritage:

Tourism acts as one of the most important tools to promote, protect and restore the shared culture and heritage, all over the world. One of the worlds favourite holiday destinations Goa, is one such example, displaying its diverse and unique built heritage, that pulls the citizens of the world to explore its distinctive cultures. From its ancestral homes, that were renovated and used as cafes to ancient palaces, forts and churches that were restored and maintained by the government, displaying its wonderful evidence of the past. Supporting inclusive and diverse point of views.

Significant contribution to the Nations Economy and Job Creation:

The desire to protect, conserve and restore the worlds heritage, not also has its cultural benefits, but also has its economic benefits on nations, with a concept of “ Heritage Tourism.” International Organisations like UNESCO, International

Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property ( ICCROM), International Council of Monuments and Sites ( ICOMOS) , International Union of Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources ( IUCN) encourages the governments of the world to protect, restore  and conserve their natural and build heritage of their countries. In this process governments around the world with the help of local governing bodies and associations have identified and declared few properties as world heritage sites that needed to be protected, conserved, presented and transmitted to the future generations as natural and cultural heritage of outstanding universal value. This gave an idea for “Heritage Tourism”, an interesting way to put forward this idea of conservation. “ Heritage Tourism” not only promotes and conserves the world heritage but also generates livelihood for many people, making a meaningful impact in their lives. The boost of nations economy with “Heritage Tourism” is a positive side effect of this cause. Starting from Cape Floral region, South Africa to Great Barrier Reef, Australia to Yellow Stone National Park, USA to Great Wall of china to Taj Mahal, India marks the worlds heritage and its powerful impact on nations social and economic seam.

Making Conservation Meaningful :

What is a world without people? Our lives, stories and experiences add no value to the future generations if we do not teach them to live together, learn together and grow together as one diverse world. This involves, to move the heritage conservation from the world of architecture into the public sphere. Instead of simply focusing on the built glory, we need to identify the aspects of value and emotion it brings into the lives of people and their communities around them. This can be achieved by encouraging and engaging common people with the contemporary issues like spacial planning, restoration of the built heritage in and around them, to make them understand the dynamics of different spaces, between the past and the future. The involvement of different communities not only bestows pride and pleasure, but also adds a sense of social responsibility and oneness , that ensures the maintenance and protections of the built heritage. There are numerous examples of situations where people held rallies, political meetings and

and national movements in the venues of the built heritage that identified the value, embedded with the histories of human rights, justice and equality, of various communities in the society. We will be loosing our multilayered histories and its importance if we do not create possibilities for including these diverse groups which add value to our diverse futures.

Not only Heritage of the Past, but also Present: Heritage not only confines to the greatest creations in the history of human kind, but also includes the outstanding works and         contributions      of   our   architects      in   various    aspects     of architecture. Renowned architects like Walter Gropius, Adolf Meyer, Mies Van Der Ron, Le Corbusier, Louis I Khan, Charles Correa and many others have created a positive impact on the lives of people and nations as a whole. It is our equal duty and responsibility to protect these iconic and outstanding creators and their creations, that serve as an important built heritage for our future generations to witness.

Heritage Management :

Apart from indentifying and protecting our built heritage, we must also find ways to restore and maintain them in the years to come. The renovations and repairs of our built heritage needs to be done while staying within the limits, by not effecting the original characteristics of heritage. This can be achieved by amending strict heritage and conservation laws by the governments of the world. Both architects along with the common people should take initiative to promote the worlds built heritage, that has been a indirect part of our lives, values, traditions and customs. With this awareness and importance of the build heritage, many cities and communities around the world came up with their won heritage listings and have actively participated in various movements to save their heritage bridges the path between the past and the future.

As society we always focus on innovating new and sustainable ways/ ideas for the future of our world. We often neglect the volumes of built heritage that our ancestors left behind. Our heritage combines unique with universal and past with the future. It is important for us to know the history and built heritage, that we all are a part of. It is important for us to

create stories around the built heritage, that remain as a part of our lives. Heritage is a unique and irreplaceable property of the world. All attempts should be made at conserving our built heritage and monumental sites around the world. The role of our built heritage is more than just knowledge and education of the past, it is a solution for the diverse future that we all are and will be a part of, as an inclusive community.

“ Our future is directly connected to the past and to know the past we must conserve, restore and maintain it.” Vital part of our past is our built heritage, which communicates volumes of stories, experiences, knowledge, values, customs and traditions of mankind over different times in different places for different purposes.

What kind of built heritage will we leave behind us for our future generations ? Are we doing enough to bridge the gap between our complex pasts and diverse futures?


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