Intern's View of Attending a Discussion on a Client-led Restoration Project, Empowered by "The Restoration Toolbox" Manuals by Anjali Yadav
Before the commencement of the meeting, the client arrived at our office, displaying no signs of worry but exuding tremendous enthusiasm. He was eager to delve deeper into the manuals that had been previously discussed with him during an online meeting by our esteemed principal architect, Dr. Aishwarya Tipnis. This meeting took place at Studio A.T.A in Delhi and had been scheduled to assess the progress and outcomes of numerous discussions and inquiries that had been addressed through chats, emails, videos, and photographs. The primary objective of this project was to utilize the restoration toolbox platform to educate and mentor students and young individuals in the art of repairing and restoring unlisted heritage buildings in India
Engaging in Collaborative Discussions- Sharing and Collecting Knowledge
“I am very happy and proud with the progress I have made in carrying out the project myself with your guidance, the only issue is the time, and as you can see it is not the right time for you to visit the site, because there are extreme rain showers going on, as you are familiar with it from the news. ‘The Restoration Toolbox Manuals’ were accessible to me without any issue, the toolbox delivered the right methods and technology available. I was afraid to carry out the project before, but now I am quite happy with the pace of the project.”- Owner
Major Repair Works
“When I got the property, roof was partially gone, the integrity of door and windows was compromised. Electricity was not running, and the retaining walls had fallen. However, with the guidance of the principal architect and several discussions, electricity has been tested.Circuits are working fine. A lot of work has been done significantly for reviving the power tools. There are six to eight power circuits, there would have been chance of short circuit if I had checked them all together at once, but I was careful and patient to carry out the process step by step. The power line to the kitchen was completely isolated, heating elements are now working fine, plumbing pipes are working fine, bathrooms are operational. However, the lime mortar that was used in the house was seen dull and had lost its integrity.”
The Traditional knowledge for Restoration
Lime mortar serves as a traditional and time-tested plastering method for heritage buildings. However, its availability in India has been limited, with only a few regions offering it at affordable prices. Lime plastering has been a prevalent technique used in homes and various structures for centuries. Its breathability allows moisture to escape through the surface instead of getting trapped within walls or ceilings. This quality makes lime mortar particularly suitable for older heritage buildings. Moreover, using lime mortar contributes to the longevity of buildings by keeping them dry and reducing maintenance costs.
One of the significant advantages of lime mortar lies in its sustainability and positive environmental impact. Derived from limestone, it is considered a renewable resource. The production of lime mortar is carbon neutral since it re-absorbs all the carbon dioxide it emits during the setting process, making it a net-zero construction material. The composition of lime mortar, primarily limestone and sand with added water for binding, closely resembles cement mortar. Nevertheless, it can be easily removed from bricks and blocks, facilitating reuse and recycling opportunities.
Compared to the stone or brick it bonds, lime mortar is softer and more flexible, accommodating slight movements caused by settlement or temperature changes without significant cracking. Additionally, its permeability allows for the evaporation of rising and penetrating dampness from within walls. This further contributes to its effectiveness in maintaining the structural integrity of heritage buildings.
I learned and taught the process of making lime mortar to the regular masons working on site.” From the early 1980’s, a certain experience of Lime being used and worked with has been there in my memory, but I know it to a certain extent. I got lime putty from Hyderabad, applied it and tested it with a wire brush. I tested whether it would hold or not, whether it would settle or not. The original lime plaster was so hard, took a lot of time for my masons to open the lime plaster. I ordered 10 tons of Lime, the process of working with it is a little slow, we are storing it properly and applying. Ordering it from Hyderabad and getting it delivered to Mussoorie was a huge challenge, ferry was used. Material availability was a huge challenge, but amongst all these problems, I am happy with the progress I have made, under your guidance”
The Moment of Antiquity and Happiness
The current woodwork in the house dates to 1963 and was skillfully crafted in the presence of my father and grandfather. The carpenter mentioned that the wood still retains its originality, and there are visible marks and mullions from the past. This aged woodwork held great sentimental value to him, as it represents a cherished piece of antiquity in the house.
While linseed oil is highly effective in safeguarding wood surfaces, it's important to note that it is not a paint. It excels in waterproofing capabilities, but it may not shield against dirt or intense sunlight, though certain formulations include added UV protection. Linseed oil is particularly well-suited for wood with a natural or rustic finish, as well as exotic woods, and it performs admirably on poorly maintained wood and those subjected to high levels of friction. It is the ideal choice for preserving natural wood that lacks varnish or has not been previously stripped of other coatings. The application process is straightforward, and the oil dries quickly, making it extremely user-friendly.
For optimal results, linseed oil should be applied to fresh wood, and maintenance can be performed periodically to ensure continued protection. Exterior wood surfaces exposed to weathering may require maintenance every two years. Fortunately, the maintenance process is easy and economical, as only a small amount of oil is needed to treat worn or damaged areas. Unlike other methods, complete sanding of the wood surface is unnecessary, saving time and expenses. Application can be done with a paintbrush, roller, or cotton cloth, depending on the surface area to cover. The oil leaves no splotches or lap marks, simplifying the application process. Excess oil can be wiped away, and within approximately 10 minutes, the wood grain will be completely saturated.
Key properties of linseed oil include sealing the wood grain, safeguarding against humidity and dirt while still allowing the wood to breathe, water repellence, enhancing the natural grain and patina of the wood, hydrating and nourishing the wood, repelling insects and fungi, and protecting against UV rays
“Now, I am going to also work on the essence and overall spirit of the house by using old furniture, one such is a dining table that I am going to transport from Calcutta to Mussoorie, in this table the hinges were made in Sweden. I am going to further explore some more and try to source desired furniture from the available auction houses.”
The Storehouse, our Kitchens
“I want to use my kitchen commercially, and I would like to maintain its raw look. You know how, old kitchens were, sturdy with jaali shutters, open shelves and the hob formed an integral part of the entire space. I want to experiment with the natural pigments, I like how in forts the floor shines for years, I will try working with red oxide, and further explore the possibilities of working with it”.
Ambience, Lighting and Finishing
“I am soon going to start with finishing of the place. The ambience is important for me, I am not going to change the lighting, dimly lit is my priority. I am going to use old switchboards and plugs to give back the desired look to the house”. –
Are we there yet, Have I done it myself?
As our principal architect guides him further, her methods ensure maximum output in terms of conservation and sustainability to the client, the process of doing it thyself, made the owner of the house (Luv Jain) practical in every approach, which also ensured overall feasibility, quality control and the true potential of carrying out the project.