Designing Around Heritage

Cochin House, New Delhi


Located at 3, Jantar Mantar Road, in the Kerala House premises, the old palace of the erstwhile Raja of Cochin; now referred to as Cochin House accommodated the offices of the Resident Commissioner of the Kerala State government. The Bungalow, which is a typical example of early 20th century architecture in New Delhi, falls in the regulated Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone. It also has the distinction of being the residence of renowned Indian writer, late Khushwanth Singh during the 1920’s (named ‘Vykunt’ then) before being sold by his father to the Raja of Cochin. Owing to its poor state of repair and maintenance with regards to its historic value, the building was taken up for conservation and adaptive re-use as a VVIP guest house for the Honorable Governor, Chief Minister and other important political authorities of the State of Kerala. It is worthy of mention here that Cochin House building being in the Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone, is one of the very few buildings which has been taken up for repair and renovation in a sensitive manner.


Mahboob Chowk Market, Hyderabad

2018 - On Going

In the day and age when Mahboob Chowk Market Complex (Built 1930s) stood in its full glory, it served a specific purpose in the neighborhood to which people, in one way or another, were connected, apart from being the face of the contextual identity of the settlement. Older stretches and patches of settlements like these have the ability to permeate character to an area and create a ‘sense of place’ that people instantly associate with and essentially imbibe as a part of their being. This is by virtue of the building / settlement having a ‘lived-in’ feel to it, and such an identity is important in eliminating the feeling of uncanniness that most people associate with ‘modern’ developments today. Though the building itself may not be as individually significant to warrant a listing in the heritage structures of the town, it has more potential than its current predicament.

The project is in evolution under the classic debate of how to intervene in ‘unlisted’ built heritage. Since the existing built fabric can no longer sustain the original function of the place two adaptive re-use design options have been presented. First; retaining the historic footprint of the structure while adding a floor above and Second; gutting the old structure but building on its foundations to create a contemporary place using historic architectonics. Both proposals have the ability to transform the place in context of the larger historic Charminar precinct redevelopment plan adopted by the city.

Osmania General Hospital Campus Renewal, Hyderabad

2013 - On Going

Repeated attempts by the government to demolish the Grade A listed Osmania General Hospital building since 2013 were met with strong opposition from citizens, professionals and activists. While the general outrage was focused on nostalgia and history which surrounded the monumental building, Kshetra attempted to provide a an architectural and planning solution to the government in a bid to showcase how heritage is not an obstacle to contemporary development.

Travancore Palace, New Delhi

2015 - On Going

Located in the prestigious Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone, Travancore Palace was being used in bits and pieces by various government and semi-government organizations as their office. A concerted conservation effort in 2016-17 brought the integrity of the building back in its original shape. A proposal to use the building as an Art Gallery & Convention Centre is being considered now to open the palladian bungalow to general public showcasing the culture and heritage of Kerala.