Heritage

“A thing of beauty is joy for ever” said Keats. Every time I pass through a heritage building, I am struck with the beauty of the same. I cannot take my eyes off it and wonder why modern day architecture cannot do the same to me. Today design and architecture has evolved and technology has enabled the unimaginable to be imagined and created. In spite of all these developments, I am yet to come across any modern architecture which can be more stunning than a heritage building.

I sometimes wonder how our forefathers could design, develop and create something out of the world and make it last for centuries. Even today if you visit a building or monument around the world you will notice that the older the building is, the stronger it is in design and execution. I recently visited the state residence of the Governor of our state. It is a huge mansion built almost a century back. When I visited the campus I was amused to know that buildings built in the last fifty years need renovation but the ones built over a century back or intact and in great condition.

“Old is gold” is another common saying. I do not know if the earlier generations spent more time in planning then execution, which has created heritage buildings, monumental in design and beauty. Today we hear of buildings collapsing within a few years of construction. What has gone wrong ? I can understand that relationships have become more virtual than real due to the evolution of technology. But how can evolution of technology in the field of architecture and design create buildings that do not last for a century as in the past. How can material science with all its advancement not help us create structures of envy as our earlier generations did ?

Just like heritage buildings, I also love the antique furniture of the bygone era. I still love to go around town shopping for antique furniture or handicrafts, which represent our rich heritage and culture. I wonder why today we cannot design furniture or handicraft, which can be the envy of the generations to come. I do not know the reasons but the reality is that antique has more value than what is designed today. It has more art and more followers than modern day creations.

Another interesting insight is today’s film songs also do not stick to our hearts. I can sing a song of the generation gone by even today and they are termed classics. The wordings of the song are like pearls of wisdom and each word gives an insight into life and living. Today’s songs are rich in music but fade within years of their release and most people cannot remember their lines.

I sometimes wonder whether this is a generational issue. I have no answers but may be more questions. I have met young artists and architects, who agree with my views. Hence, it may not be an issue of my growing old and not appreciating the new. It is much more deeper than that. It could be that the generations of the past created art with limited resources and hence created more value out of limited inputs. Today, we have technology and resources at our command and may be long lasting value is no longer a goal in the minds of the creator.

The Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus ( Victoria Terminus – VT) (in the photo above) is the main railway station of Mumbai, built during the British era in India. It’s a world heritage site and I pause in front of it every time I pass by even today.

What is your view on heritage ?

S Ramesh Shankar

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