Questions raised over KA renovation work

■ Charles Correa Foundation laments no access to structure ■ Worried finer aspects of its architecture may be changed

THE GOAN NETWORK | MAY 15, 2022, 12:30 AM IST

Citing a lack of transparency in the ongoing renovation work at the Kala Academy, architects and domain experts on Saturday expressed worry that the architecture layer, especially the interiors, could drastically change in character the iconic edifice and its space.

The Charles Correa Foundation, which organised a discussion on the issue at its Fontainhas venue, is worried that the consultants and contractor will not pay adequate attention to the finer nuances of preserving the architectural and other crucial aspects including acoustics, colour schemes and also retaining in their original form the Mario Miranda murals and work of other artists adorning the several walls.

The Foundation and its members lamented that physical access has been shut out and there is no way to know what’s going on at the site although it has officially written to the government authorities including the PWD and are awaiting a response.

Most of the structural renovation and reinforcement work is complete, according to Nandita Mehrortra who said what has been completed so far was satisfactory.

Mehrotra, who is a trustee of the Foundation, nonetheless expressed worry that the restoration of the architectural layer which will now be taken up could cause most of the damage in terms of retaining the originality of the iconic cultural space.

“Intervention to ensure it doesn’t go wrong is now. Once the work is done we don’t know when the next opportunity to do any corrections will come with the government already having spent so much on the current renovation project,” Mehrotra opined, while making a case for transparency and putting out the details in the public domain.

Renovation of the Kala Academy project triggered controversy a couple of years ago when there was similar fear expressed over the nature of the renovation and the lack of transparency. 

The matter landed in the courts and the Bombay High Court at Goa had directed that the renovation of Kala Academy must ensure ‘preservation’.

Designed by renowned architect of Goan origin Charles Correa and built in the early 1980s, the Kala Academy was also renovated once before in 2003-04 when it became the fulcrum of the venues for hosting the International Film Festival of India. 

A similar controversy had erupted during the 2003-04 renovation when the administration of then chief minister Manohar Parrikar completely ignored the convention of consulting the original architect and 

bypassed Correa.

In the current renovation, too, the State administration has cold-shouldered the Charles Correa Foundation’s offer to come on board and assist in the renovation pro-bono.

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