Heritage plays an important role in the identity of a place, it reflects its image and reveals stories of its past giving it a sense of character. If understood and managed properly it has the power to effectively contribute to the overall quality of urban environment and serve as the starting point of sustainable urban development. Conservation of the historic assets is a crucial step in the development process aiming at improving the aesthetic and recreational qualities of Chinsurah as well as enhancement of the local identity and character of the town.
Funded by the Embassy of Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Delhi, this project is an initiative of Aishwarya Tipnis Architects (ATA) in collaboration with Presidency University Kolkata. The aim of this multi-disciplinary project is to identify and document this shared cultural heritage and develop a digital database for the shared cultural heritage of the erstwhile Dutch colony of Chinsurah in West Bengal, India. A one of its kind project in India, this project attempts to bridge the gap between architecture and social sciences by adopting the Digital Humanities approach. Developed by Presidency University, the digital archiving of the Dutch Cemetery in Chinsurah enabled the creation of an electronic resource in the form of a fully searchable database. ATA's cultural mapping project aimed at providing a spatial dimension to the multiple layers of history and narratives of the town brought out by the research. Interpretative data collected from archival research, oral history interviews, building inventories and photo documentation was mapped on to open source maps using GIS technology as different layers. This has been presented in the form of user friendly website to enable reach to a wider audience.
The larger purpose of this project is to form a base for the "integrated development" of Chinsurah where the goals of urban heritage conservation are intertwined into the economic social and cultural development of the town. The project methodology is guided by UNESCO Recommendations for the Historic Urban Landscape (2011), which is an approach to the management of heritage resources in dynamic and constantly changing environments. The project focuses on recognition of those values and attributes that define the meaning and sense of place of Chinsurah. It demystifies the various layers and interconnection of natural and cultural, tangible and intangible, international and local values that defines the town.
It is hoped that cultural mapping exercise would become a starting point for the integration of urban heritage conservation in the process of urban development of Chinsurah in a way that protects and enhances its sense of place, individual character and identity.Read More:Final Project Methodology